Grassroots concerned citizens are organizing a March on Washington for Gun Control, Saturday, Jan. 26, at the National Mall.
Marchers will gather at 10 a.m. at the Capitol Reflecting Pool on 3rd St. NW - across from the Museum of the American Indian. At 11 a.m., they will walk in silence along Constitution Avenue to a rally at the Washington Monument carrying hundreds of white signs, each bearing the name of a gun-violence victim. They will be joined by families from Newtown, Conn., and the District of Columbia mayor and council members. Speakers will include Reps. Eleanor Holmes-Norton, D-D.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; Senior Pastor Dean Snyder of Foundry United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.; Virginia Tech massacre survivor Colin Goddard; Shannon Watts, founder of One Million Moms for Gun Control; and actress Kathleen Turner
One Million Moms for Gun Control is a co-sponsor of the march. Watts, a Zionsville, Ind., stay-at-home mother of five, told USA Today she was so angry and frustrated by the Dec. 14 Newtown, Conn., shootings that she formed the group that day via a Facebook page and website. In just five days, her group jumped to 8,000 members and 50 chapters across the country. "We are going to do for gun control what Mothers Against Drunk Driving did for drunk drivers," she said.
March organizers have put out a flyer (which can be downloaded at their website) that calls for the following gun control actions:
* Reinstate the assault weapons ban.
* Ban high-capacity ammunition magazines.
* Enforce a 28-day waiting period and required background checks.
* Require gun-safety training.
* Outlaw bullets that shatter in the body.
President Obama included most of these in his plan announced Wednesday. The president also pointed to the difficulty of getting these steps enacted because of the entrenched gun lobby. "It will not happen unless the American people demand it," he said.
This march appears to be in that spirit.
One of the lead organizers is Suzanne Blue Star Boy, from the Yankton, S.D., Sioux Tribe, also known as Ihanktonwan Dakota Oyate, part of the original Great Sioux Nation. She is a policy advocate for the Indian Land Tenure Foundation in Washington. Previously she was director of the V-Day Indian Country Project, working with Native American and First Nations women to end violence against women. In 2003, the National Women's Political Caucus honored her with a "Women of Courage" award for that work.
Her co-organizer Molly Smith, who describes herself as a "citizen activist," is a theater director.
Another organizer, Paul Oakley Stovall, was a victim of gun violence in the early 1990s, just a month after being awarded a bachelor's in fine arts. Now 43 he is an actor and playwright, he also a staff member for First Lady Michelle Obama and serves on the planning committee for President Obama's second inauguration.
"I was shot in both my legs," he says on the march website. "I have the scars and deal with infrequent but debilitating shooting pains (nerve damage) to this day. At 21 years old, I found myself to be a gay, crippled African American ... but never defeated."
People can sign up for the Jan. 26 march and get more information on its website and its Facebook page.
Photo: Gun Control March