Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America brings float to Fourth of July parade to increase visibility


Brian Meller/The Daily Northwestern

Members of Evanston’s Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and young children hold signs as they take part in the city’s Fourth of July parade. This is the first year the group brought a float to accompany participants as they marched the parade route.

Natachi Onwuamaegbu

Evanston’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a gun control activist group, marched with a float in Evanston’s Fourth of July parade for the first time this year.

Kim Romain, one of the leaders of the Evanston chapter of the group, said the group has been participating in the Evanston parade for four years but this year they decided to accompany their more-than-50 marchers with a float.

“The problem in this country led to so many people wanting to take part, so we decided to make a float to keep us more visible,” she said.

The organization started as a grassroots Facebook page when stay-at-home mom, Shannon Watts, created the group after the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. It soon gained massive popularity — there are now chapters in all 50 states.

Romain is one of more than 100,000 mothers nationwide who support the organization’s cause.

“I have a six year old, and I have to think of great things for her future,” she said. “Great things don’t involve gun violence.”

One of her colleagues, Sharon Seliga, the Illinois chapter leader and a retired grandmother of 11, said she joined because she was scared for her children and grandchildren.

“As I’ve seen my children grow and now my grandkids growing, if anything were to happen to anyone of them, I just, I don’t know,” Seliga said. “I choke up. I do.”

Seliga said she hadn’t been politically active in 41 years before the shootings at Sandy Hook. However, eight months after the shooting, she discovered the Moms Demand Action Facebook page and became an active member of the organization. She said she has been marching in this parade for all four years Moms Demand Action has been present.

Betsy Storm, founder of the North Shore chapter of Moms Demand Action who attended the parade, said the movement is about more than moms.

“What’s behind our organization is safe, sensible gun laws protecting people,” Storm, a writer, said. “It’s Mom’s Demand Action, but dads also demand it, and so do kids.”

As the parade began, Moms Demand Action members walked alongside their float waving to anyone who looked their way. Seliga, who marched with other members during the parade, said she often thinks about the parents who have lost their children as a result of shootings.

She said those parents are her motivation.

“If they can get out of bed, and they can fight to make sure that this doesn’t happen to another kid, then I have to do all I can to support them and support this cause,” she said.

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Natachi Onwuamaegbu and Brian Meller are rising high school seniors participating this summer in the Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute.