Tuesday, April 25, 2000

Gift idea: Insist on gun safety

By Laura Pulfer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It's not too early to start thinking about what you are going to get your mother for Mother's Day. Remember when you were a kid and you asked her what kind of present she wanted for Mother's Day? Or Christmas or her birthday, for that matter.

        My mother always started out by insisting she didn't need anything. Followed by, “I'm sure I would like anything you picked out.” This year, I'm trying to decide if she'd like me to pick a fight.

        It is called the Million Mom March, a Mother's Day demand for sensible gun laws. Their plan is to “send a strong message to Congress” by gathering May 14 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

        They are not planning to march into the homes of all NRA members and demand that they surrender their guns or tromp all over anybody's constitutional rights.

"Felt ashamed'
        “We're not talking about banning guns,” Chasilee Crawford, the Ohio coordinator, says. “We are concerned with safety. This not political. We are in this for one reason only: to keep our kids safe.”

        It began about nine months ago with a New Jersey mother named Donna Dees-Thomases. “I was watching news about the Granada Hills day camp shooting.” She was haunted by the images of terrified children being led in a line after a gunman had wounded three children and a counselor and shot to death a postal worker that day in Los Angeles.

        “I felt ashamed. Ashamed because I've sat back while others battle the gun lobby to protect our children.”

Spreading the word
        More than 300 organizations have joined her with endorsements, manpower and, sometimes, money. The list includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United States Conference of Mayors, the National PTA, the NAACP and the YWCA.

        “It changes every day,” says Rene Thompson of Covington, the Kentucky organizer, “but I think we have about 100,000 people signed up.” So, right now, they're 900,000 short. But you never know. There's still time. And they expect a lot of people to show up who haven't registered on the Web site.

        Rosie O'Donnell, who will emcee the event, gave out the Web site address — www.millionmommarch.com — and phone number — (888) 891-MOMS — on her show in March. “The response was huge,” Ms. Thompson said.

        Before Rosie, the word was spread through book clubs, play groups, churches and synagogues. The moms have reached out to one another through phone trees. Sensible. Practical.

        The moms will be asking for background checks and cooling-off periods, handgun licensing and registration, requiring manufacturers to child-proof guns, limiting purchases to one handgun per month and “no-nonsense enforcement” of gun laws.

        Special travel and hotel rates are available at the Web site or by e-mailing chazzypoo@aol.com in Ohio or MMMSafekids.@aol.com for Kentucky.

        You can never pay your mom back for all the worrying she has done about you — from the time she felt you kick inside the womb to the time she paced when you were two minutes late for your curfew.

        At least that has been my experience. My own personal mother is terrific — one in a million. Kind, gentle but very fierce when children are threatened — hers or somebody else's. This year as my gift, I'm going to try to be just like her.

        One in a million.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call 768-8393.

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