Written by: Dan Gross
"We're looking for a few good moms!"
It's been 15 years since this cry rallied the original, epic Million Mom March on Mother's Day, May 14, 2000. On that historic day, 750,000 mothers and concerned individuals gathered on the National Mall while more than 150,000 rallied in satellite events in 70 cities across the country, and a new movement in our nation was born.
Our goal was simple: to create a safer future for our children. And over the last 15 years, through the efforts of millions of moms who were inspired by that original march, I am pleased to report that we have made some truly extraordinary progress.
At the original Million Mom March, we launched what has proven to be, and continues to be, one of the most successful efforts to prevent gun deaths and injuries that our nation has ever seen--the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign. Developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics, Brady's ASK Campaign is a nationwide effort to educate parents about the significant risks of children having access to guns in the home. It provides every parent, whether they own a gun or not, with something real they can do to make children safer by simply asking if there are unlocked guns in the homes where their children play.
The ASK Campaign began at the original Million Mom March and thousands of children are alive today because of it. Surveys show that more than 20 million parents have started asking life-saving questions about unsafe access to guns, and millions more have been educated about the dangers of guns in the home.
Most significantly, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since we launched the ASK Campaign in 2000, there are now 900 fewer children and teenagers killed with guns each year. The same report also shows that unintentional gun deaths among children ages 19 and younger have decreased by more than a third--down 42 percent since 1999.
But we still have a long way to go. A recent report by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, The Truth About Kids & Guns, shows that 1.7 million kids live in households with unlocked guns, and that every day, nine are shot unintentionally. Hundreds of young people take their own lives every year, and there have been at least 52 school shootings since the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook. The one thing that most of these tragedies have in common is that they happen because young people have unsafe access to a parent's, relative's, or friend's gun in the home.
Brady, the Million Mom March, and the ASK Campaign may have begun this important fight, but we are no longer in it alone. We take great inspiration from all the important voices that have joined this conversation and in our efforts to educate America about the health and safety risks of youth access to guns in the home. Brady has proudly joined forces with the American Public Health Association to co-sponsor a major national summit in Washington, DC, on October 26-28, that will bring together dozens of organizations from an inspiringly diverse range of fields around the theme of addressing gun deaths and injuries as a public health issue.
We are also energized by all our allies from the gun violence prevention movement who have broadened their focus from primarily political agendas to promoting the life-saving ASK message. Women Against Violence has incorporated ASK messaging in its TALK Project to encourage parents to talk about safer gun storage, and Everytown for Gun Safety's new Be SMART Campaign, launched on May 4, 2015, now encourages parents to "ask about the presence of unsecured guns in other homes."
Thanks to the Million Mom March and the ASK Campaign, we have made real, measurable progress. But thousands of children are still killed every year with guns that are brought into homes, not with any bad intention, but with bad information about the risks and dangers.
When it comes to creating a safer future for our children, I am more confident than ever that we are up to the challenge. The march on May 14, 2000, in Washington, DC, and in communities across the country was extraordinary and historic, but it was only the beginning. Over the last 15 years, it has grown into a powerful movement, one that continues to grow to this day and, in fact, has never had more momentum than it has right now. What started as a call for a "few good moms" has turned into an unstoppable national force--one that has already created great change and will only continue to grow stronger as long as there is an opportunity to make our children safer.
National ASK Day is coming up on June 21, when we will hold "The World's Largest Playdate" in communities across the country to bring attention to the dangers of youth access to guns in the home. If you would like to be part of that effort or to join Brady, the Million Mom March, and the growing list of organizations committed to making our children safer, pledge to add your voice at AskingSavesKids.org.