A meeting May 25 of the LaGrange Area chapter of the gun control group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was supposed to be a chance for people to get to know each other at a nice social hour at Imperial Oak Brewing in Brookfield.
But, when an 18-year-old gunman shot and killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, the day before, the social hour turned into something much more serious.
Approximately 60 people, mostly women, showed up outraged by the most recent mass shooting in the United States.
“I was just happy to see the large turnout of moms who want to do something to make this stop,” said Tanja Murray of LaGrange Park, the local lead volunteer for the LaGrange Area chapter of Moms Demand Action.
Most of those in attendance May 25 were new to the group, Murray said. The attendance was about three times greater than a typical meeting.
One of those first-time attendees was Kristin Hassett, of Brookfield. Hassett said the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Texas prompted her to go to the meeting. She said she was overwhelmed with emotion that morning after dropping her 5-year-old at preschool and decided that she had to do something after the Texas shooting and the mass shooting at a grocery store in Buffalo a week earlier.
“I’m just tired of hearing about these things happening,” Hassett said. “There’s no reason that this should be happening. Schools should be a safe place for our kids. … I’m an ICU nurse, I’ve seen horrible things. I get that bad things happen in the world. But I’m just so tired of people not being able to just go grocery shopping or just being able to go to school.”
Those new to Moms Demand Action were asked to fill out a new member volunteer form on which they could specify how they wanted to be more involved.
Moms Demand Action was founded in the wake of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a 20-year-old shooter killed 26 people. The group advocates for a variety of gun control measures.
Murray said Moms Demand Action advocates for stronger background checks for gun buyers, red-flag laws to try to prevent those with mental health problems from possessing firearms, raising the age to be eligible to buy a gun and a host of other measures.
Murray said anyone can join Moms Demand Action.
“Men and women can join,” Murray said. “One does not need to be a parent. Many people are frustrated about what’s happening. Anyone can help fight to save lives.”
Moms Demand Action and the Congregation of St. Joseph will host a vigil in memory of victims and survivors of the Uvalde and Buffalo shootings on June 3 at 4 p.m. at the Congregation of St. Joseph Chapel, 1515 W. Ogden Ave. in LaGrange Park.