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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

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A year after its formation, Moms Demand Action continues gun violence prevention efforts in Evanston

Photo Courtesy of Sara Hines
Moms Demand Action members tabling at a First Friday in Evanston this summer.

Content warning: this story contains mentions of gun violence.

After the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead, Sara Hines said she started “doom scrolling” — reading news headlines in horror — the same way she had 10 years prior following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  

But, unlike ten years ago, Hines is a parent now. She said she felt like she “just couldn’t stand on the sidelines.”

Hines connected with others on Facebook to ask about starting an Evanston chapter of Moms Demand Action, a nationwide volunteer organization advocating for gun control measures. Though there had previously been a group focused on Evanston, Skokie and Wilmette, the new group Hines co-leads focuses specifically on Evanston. 

The chapter began in the summer of 2022. Hines, the group’s co-leader, said the chapter now has around 2,000 volunteers. 

Erin Fowler said she moved to Evanston around a year ago and got involved with the chapter after realizing that gun violence “affects every community, including this community.” She now serves as the BeSMART lead of the Evanston Moms Demand Action chapter, a role that leads the group’s advocacy efforts for the safe storage of firearms.

“Our priorities are handing out gun locks so that people have, you know, sort of the bare minimum in their home to secure their gun if they have one, and normalizing the conversation around asking people if they have guns and how they store them,” Fowler said.

As part of these efforts, Moms Demand Action advocated for the passage of a safe storage ordinance in Evanston, which City Council unanimously approved this summer. 

Under this ordinance, Evanston gun owners must follow safe storage requirements, such as making sure guns are locked in a container or gun room.   

“This is a really big step, and an important step, to identifying Evanston as a place that takes gun violence prevention and firearm safety really seriously as a community,” Hines said.

Over the summer, the group collaborated with the city to table at the First Friday events and distribute gun locks in an effort to promote safe firearm storage.

Hines said Moms Demand Action is also focused on understanding how gun violence impacts racial minorities in particular. 

“Our Black and Brown communities in Evanston, just like most of the United States, are disproportionately impacted by gun violence,” Hines said. “That’s where there’s the most need and where we can make the biggest difference.”

Last November, the group held a panel about the state of gun violence in Evanston. Speakers included Mayor Daniel Biss, city parks and recreation director Audrey Thompson, and  representatives from YWCA Evanston/North Shore and the Life Without My Child group.

Last November, Moms Demand Action participated in a town hall and panel discussion on gun violence in Evanston. (Photo Courtesy of Sara Hines)

Moving forward, Hines said the chapter is centering conversations on school safety and looks to hold a roundtable discussion in late November regarding firearm incidents at schools. 

Jenette Sturges, the marketing and communications director at Evanston Public Library, said that Moms Demand Action members had attended and spoke at EPL’s board meetings after a January incident where a library security monitor, who was an off-duty police officer, drew a firearm on an individual. Moms Demand Action encouraged EPL to “think deeply about what safety really means” during its search for a new safety manager. 

Sturges said the Moms Demand Action chapter plays a critical role in leading the fight against gun violence in Evanston.  

“I would sum up their role as being sort of the conscience of the community that is just exceptionally vocal about what we’re all thinking, which is that the level of gun violence that we’re seeing in the community is not acceptable,” Sturges said. 

Clarification: A previous version of this story did not note that Moms Demand Action members had attended EPL meetings following January’s incident.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @katewalter03

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