Mill Creek moms demand action to end gun violence

Local group joins growing number of protesters to make schools safe
By Dan Aznoff | Apr 05, 2018
Courtesy of: Marisa Moreno Marisa Moreno holds her young son in an effort to reassure him that she will protect him from the mounting incidents of gun violence that has killed students and teachers. The Mill Creek mother of two made the decision to start a chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to support parents and grandparents in Bothell and Mill Creek who want to take action to stop the senseless bloodshed.

Compassion became action for one Mill Creek mother when she watched her young son’s reaction to the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Marisa Moreno was stunned while she watched reports on the school shooting that left 17 people dead on Valentine’s Day. Her 8-year-old son began to cry as he walked into the room and was confronted by images from the school.

“My son has a language deficit and does not understand everything,” Moreno told The Beacon. “But he understood what was going on in Parkland. He burst into tears and begged me to keep him safe.”

The young mother did not want to promise something that was beyond her control, so she told her son that she would, “do everything in my power to keep him and his sister safe.”

Her first thought was that if her pre-teen could grasp the need to end gun violence, why can’t elected officials take action to protect their youngest constituents?

Her son’s reaction reminded Moreno of the emotions she felt when she was in her daughter’s classroom during a lockdown drill.

“The drill only lasted for 10 minutes, but it seemed like hours,” she remembered. “I was scared, but my daughter said she was numb after sitting through repeated lockdown drills.

“And that was when she was in first grade.”

That first grader is now a 13-year-old who attends Heatherwood Middle School. Moreno was her daughter’s age when two students gunned down 12 students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado before killing themselves in April of 1999.

“It’s been almost 20 years since Columbine,” Moreno said in a quiet voice. “It’s hard to believe that, as a people and as a society, we have not overcome the need to walk into a school to kill children.”

The mother of two did her own research into gun violence and made the decision to join Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Her decision to start a new chapter of the national organization was made when she realized the closest group to her home was in Shoreline.

“My thought was that we needed a Moms Demand Action group to serve parents and grandparents in Snohomish County,” she explained. “Apparently I was not alone. The organization had already received applications for chapters in Lynnwood, Edmonds and Lake Stevens.”

Mothers Demand Action was founded in 2012 after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 where a gunman with an automatic weapon massacred 20 youngsters and six adults just 11 days before Christmas.

Moreno hopes to intensify the campaign to end gun violence in the Bothell-Mill Creek community by confronting the pro-gun stance of 44th District State Rep. Mark Harmsworth (R-Mill Creek).

She argued that, “He (Harmsworth) needs to understand that our schools are vulnerable, especially schools in the middle of construction projects.

“Our children are not safe as long as we do not have stronger background checks and better screening for people who should—and should not—own a gun.”

Moreno added that schools represent just a small fraction of deadly shootings that take place across the country every day. She emphasized the need for parents to be more vigilant about the homes they allow their children to visit.

“I always ask a parent if they have a gun in the house,” she said forcefully. “If they do, I ask about where it is locked up and what precautions have been taken to be sure children in the house cannot accidently have access to a deadly weapon.”

She is always amazed when other mothers do not ask her the same questions before dropping their children off for a play date.

The Bothell-Mill Creek chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America staged a kickoff event on Saturday, March 31. More than three dozen members divided chapter responsibilities into separate committees and set plans for community action.

Moreno has already established a Facebook page for the group, and hopes to hold events throughout the community over the next few months to train members to apply pressure to lawmakers and to participate in marches.

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