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Brady Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the Million Mom March, a Watershed Moment in the Gun Violence Prevention Movement

Washington D.C., May 14, 2020 - Today, Brady celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Million Mom March and the two decades of activism it inspired that has helped to make our communities and children safer. The Million Mom March was the largest non-violent protest to take place on the National Mall in United States history at the time, with over 750,000 people on the National Mall and thousands more across the country gathering to call for an end to gun violence. It was truly a Million Mom March with a call to action that didn’t end when the crowds dispersed.

In the 20 years since, Million Mom Marchers across the country have carried the torch of activism and civic engagement lit by the March with them, helping to pass gun safety laws in their local communities, states, and in the halls of Congress. These Marchers are the leaders of today, with over fifteen former Marchers currently serving in Congress, all of whom have made gun violence prevention a priority. Other Marchers have gone on to champion gun safety in their states, such as Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the first woman Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, who this year helped to pass the most meaningful gun violence prevention laws that Virginia has seen in a generation.

Million Mom March Founder Donna Dees-Thomases shared:

“The success of the Million Mom March is directly attributable to thousands of selfless heroes, many of whom went unsung, but without whom we would not have succeeded. From the Rev. James Atwood of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, who organized the faith-based community for the march, to the activists of the NAACP, who taught us novices how to fill a bus, the most valuable lesson I learned during the nine months of organizing the Million Mom March was that nothing succeeds in any movement without a diverse, broad coalition of committed citizens. In the years since, we’ve seen that the same intense and unrelenting commitment to coalition building is required to reach the March's ultimate goal: ensuring that our children’s lives are never extinguished by gun violence. Since May 2000, those Marchers have built those coalitions and continued to agitate for that goal. I’m proud to stand witness to their work and to share in this movement with them.”

For the past two decades, Marchers have carried the March’s call forward, even in the face of determined efforts to advance the profits within the gun industry at the expense of our children and communities. For example, in 2001 a death threat against Million Mom Marchers forced the cancellation of a rally to celebrate the bipartisan passage of gun laws by the state of New York. The undeterred organizers sought and secured the arrest of the individual behind the death threat, and then relocated the celebration to White Plains from Albany to honor newly-elected U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton and New York Governor George Pataki, who championed and signed these gun reform laws three months after the Million Mom March.

But the work catalyzed by the Million Mom March and carried forward by its participants is not finished. In 2001, the Million Mom March merged with Brady. Marchers and Brady members across the country are dedicated to treating gun violence as a public health epidemic and work tirelessly to reduce the number of children and teens who are shot every day in America from 21 to zero.

Brady President Kris Brown shared:

“In the summer of 1999, Donna Dees-Thomases applied for a permit to march on Washington, D.C., after seeing a sight now too familiar for all Americans: images of our children and teens fleeing from gun violence on their TV screens. I was on the National Mall with my own mother marching with all of the other mothers and children who came to Washington, D.C., on Mother’s Day 2000, and today, as a mother, I continue to fight for all Americans to live free from the threat of gun violence. The spark that the Million Mom March lit in millions of activists nationwide, including myself, burns strong today, with Marchers working to make our communities safer across the country and their children taking up the mantle to demand an end to daily gun violence. I am proud to have passed that torch of activism to my two daughters, who joined in-school walkouts in the last year to protest gun violence. Twenty years later, the Million Mom March has shown that when we band together and work across generations and communities, we are a strong, unstoppable force that not only demands action, but also achieves it.”

Prominent Activities from Former Marchers Over the Last 20 Years Include:

2001: In just one year, the 236 chapters of the Million Mom March helped to pass multiple gun violence prevention laws across the country, including SB 199 in Texas, which made it illegal for those under final protective order for family violence and those convicted of family violence crimes to possess guns.

2002: Marchers across the country worked with partners to defeat concealed carry bills in fourteen states. In April that same year, Marchers across the country partnered with the Alliance for Justice to protest H&R Block’s promotion with the NRA by threatening to boycott tax preparers' offices on April 15. H&R Block ended that promotion.

2003: Million Mom March volunteers Griffin Dix and State Sen. Jack Scott both advocated for a California law requiring new models of semi-automatic handguns to have a safety device in honor of their sons, both of whom were fatally shot in unintentional shootings.

2004: Million Mom March chapters across the country recruited a coalition of more than 275 consumer, children’s, civil rights, domestic violence, faith-based, law enforcement, and gun violence prevention organizations, to send letters to all 535 members of Congress demanding the renewal of the federal assault weapons ban. Marchers held a rally on Capitol Hill on Mother’s Day 2004, May 9, sponsored by Essence Magazine, and then lobbied representatives alongside their children the next day, delivering more than 200,000 cards in wagons from constituents to congressional offices. Despite support from President George W. Bush, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert refused to bring the renewal up for a vote.

2005: Marchers partnered with the Illinois Council for Gun Violence Prevention to pass legislation in the Illinois legislature to close the state’s gun show loophole.

2006: California’s Gun Design Safety law, which Marchers helped pass in 2003, went into effect, requiring new semi-automatic handgun models sold in the state to have either a clear loaded chamber indicator or a magazine disconnect.

2007: Marchers partnered with Protest Easy Guns to hold nationwide lie-ins to call for stricter gun laws following the tragic mass shooting at Virginia Tech. Public reaction to the shooting led to a new federal law "ensur[ing] that disqualifying mental health records be uploaded into the National Background Check System to bar persons who had been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility from legally purchasing firearms."

2009: Marchers and Ceasefire New Jersey successfully helped pass a law limiting handgun sales to one a month. Limiting handgun sales to one a month reduces incidents of gun trafficking and has remained a priority for Marchers and the gun violence prevention movement.

2010: Marchers launched the ‘Starbucks Campaign’ in response to the threat of a movement to openly carry firearms in places such as Starbucks. The campaign collected more than 30,000 signatures calling for the ban of open carry and convinced Peet’s Coffee, California Pizza, and others to ban open carry in their stores nationwide.

2011: California Marchers and other local gun violence prevention allies helped to pass a law banning the open carry of handguns in the state.

2012: Following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Marchers in Michigan pressured Governor Rick Snyder to veto a bill that would have nullified prohibitions on carrying firearms in specific locations, such as schools and churches.

2013: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE Act following pressure from Marchers in New York and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

2014: Following the mass shooting at the University of Southern California, Santa Barbara, Brady and Marchers in California successfully pressured Governor Jerry Brown to sign AB 1014, the “gun violence restraining order,” which gives families and law enforcement a needed tool to reduce gun violence.

2015: Marchers and Brady recommitted to promoting the ASK Campaign, which was launched on the National Mall at the Million Mom March. The Government Accounting Organization validated the work of mothers and others everywhere in 2017, citing the ASK Campaign as the most effective national safe storage awareness program.

2018: Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the March for Our Lives protest in March 2018 surpassed the Million Mom March as the largest gun violence protest in American history. That November, Marchers Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean were elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

2019: Following pressure from a broad coalition of advocates led by Marcher Donna Finkelstein, the mother of Mindy Finkelstein, who was shot at a Jewish community center in 1999 when she was 16, the Los Angeles School Board unanimously endorsed a safe storage resolution asking parents to attest that any firearms they own are safely stored.

2020: Million Mom Marcher Eileen Filler-Corn became the first woman to serve as the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. Former Marchers Brady North Virginia President Martina Leinz, Brady President Kris Brown, and Virginia Delegate Kathleen Murphy were united in pushing for this legislation.

Dees-Thomases added:

“Although I never spoke on stage at the Million Mom March, I frequently credit Sarah Brady with the most important line of the day: ‘If we can’t get the lawmakers to change the laws, then come November we must change the lawmakers.’ Never has a battle cry been more relevant and critical than it is today, as we see continued recalcitrance on Capitol Hill and in State Houses across the country, despite the fact that real solutions exist that can stop the epidemic of gun violence in communities everywhere. We carry Sarah Brady’s message forward today just as we did 20 years ago, and we can expect it to continue to compel action until gun violence is no more.”

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Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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