The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Moms Demand Action rally against gun violence

Be SMART meets for their first meeting at the Coralville Public Library on February 25, 2016. Be SMART’s goal is not to take away 2nd Amendment gun rights, but to send a message about the importance of responsible gun storage. 1.7 million American children live in homes with guns that are both loaded and unlocked. (The Daily Iowan/McCall Radavich)


With accidental gun-death rates increasing from 1,603 in 2014 to 1,956 in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, one group of mothers in Iowa City is taking action to raise awareness.

On Thursday night, the Iowa City chapter of Moms Demand Action, which has 150 members, hosted a presentation at the Coralville Public Library. The title was “Be SMART” — a movement designed to increase safety measures when it comes to having guns around kids, ultimately creating a safer community.

The presentation comes in the wake of the increasing number of accidental gun deaths. It also comes just after the mass shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Feb. 20 in which six were killed and two critically wounded.

According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, there were 22 accidental shooting incidents resulting in two deaths and 18 injuries in Iowa last year. Already this year, there have been seven incidents resulting in two deaths and six injuries.

“I remember when my daughter was a toddler, and I saw the Columbine shooting on TV,” said Rebecca Truszkowski, the local leader of Moms Demand Action and a mother of two. “I thought it was terrible, I couldn’t stand it. I started noticing all these different incidents started popping up after that. When my daughter went off to college at Oregon, that’s when I started to really get involved. They started having guns on college campuses — I thought, this is ridiculous.”

Truszkowski founded the Iowa City chapter less than a year ago because of concern for her own kids.

“Our priority is to get background checks on all gun sales,” she said. “We’re not against guns, we just don’t want them to fall in the wrong hands. Not too many people can argue with that. Maybe people don’t want to change gun laws, but most people are happy to keep guns out of kids’ hands.

Moms Demand Action is a nationwide organization that was created to demand action from state and federal lawmakers, companies, and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms.

Giving the presentation was Karen Nichols, the leader for gun-violence prevention in the organization. She said she was inspired to get involved with gun-safety activism by the Sandy Hook shootings.

“It was one of the most difficult conversations I’ve ever had,” Nichols said. “I promised my son that I would do something about it, and that’s why I joined Moms.”

The group, which operates in all 50 states, was founded by Shannon Watts, a stay-at-home mother, the day after the Sandy Hook Elementary School Shooting on Dec. 14, 2012.

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With more than 3.5 million members, it is the largest movement pushing gun-violence prevention in the country, partnered with Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group operates educational, legislative, and corporate campaigns. Although Moms Demand Action crusades for gun safety, it also supports the Second Amendment.

Among those in attendance was Kate Rose, a retired grandmother and member of Moms Demand Action. She said she wants to make change in the community.

“We’re building walls in this country to keep people out,” Rose said. “If change doesn’t happen soon, people are going to want to get out. This was not a topic of conversation when I was raising kids. I never once asked if someone had guns in their home and if they were secure.”

At the end of the presentation, the handful of attendees wrote letters to Iowa state senators in an effort to promote gun-safety legislation.

Sgt. Scott Gaarde, the Iowa City police public-information officer, said unintentional shootings have not been a problem in Iowa City.

“I can’t recall the last time an accidental shooting happened in Iowa City,” he said.

When it comes to the politics of gun laws, the Iowa City police choose to remain neutral.

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