At home in an Indianapolis suburb the morning following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, Shannon Watts, a 41-year-old former public relations executive and mother of five, created a Facebook page calling for a march on the nation’s capital: “Change will require action by angry Americans outside of Washington, D. Join us—we will need strength in numbers against a resourceful, powerful and intransigent gun lobby.” The seed for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America—today a national organization backed by nearly 200,000 members and millions of dollars—had been planted.
It was “a public relations disaster” for the open-carry activists, says veteran Republican strategist and gun owner Mark Mc Kinnon. Moms trump guns.” Social media had helped set off a tectonic shift.
Momentum toward reform could have vanished after the background check bill went nowhere, he notes, “as often happens when you sort of lose with your big moment and your advocates in the field fade away. Moms also called out Target’s new strategic partner The Honest Company (the baby products line from young mom Jessica Alba), staged “stroller jams” at Target stores in Texas and Virginia, and protested outside the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
We were determined not to let that happen.” There seemed a snowball’s chance that Congress would take on guns again, but Moms had other plans. Just before July Fourth, the nation’s fourth-largest retailer announced that firearms were no longer welcome in its 1,789 stores.
In summer 2013, Watts met with Mark Glaze, head of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in Montana.
They talked at length as they rode a mountain gondola beneath the expansive vistas near Big Sky, forging a plan to build the furthest-reaching operation yet to go toe-to-toe with the NRA.
Watts and Kate Beck, a Moms leader in Starbucks’ hometown of Seattle, published a scathing op-ed on calling out the company’s inaction and citing an accidental shooting at a Starbucks in Florida and a rally at another in South Dakota that drew 60 armed activists.