Moms, gun violence survivors, law enforcement, gun safety advocates and community leaders marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, as Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDA) – a part of Everytown for Gun Safety – hosted the third annual Brooklyn Bridge March and Rally on Saturday, May 9.
MDA also promoted its recently launched “Be SMART” campaign – which asks gun owners and non-gun owners alike to come together to reduce the unintentional shootings, suicides and homicides that occur when an unsupervised child gets a gun.
According to stats released on May 4 by Everytown and MDA, since January 1 this year, there’ve been at least 80 unintentional shootings involving children resulting in 24 deaths and 57 injuries, an average of one shooting every 36 hours.
The march concluded at City Hall with a press conference involving several speakers, including Shannon Watts – MDA Founder, Abbey Clements – a Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher and the Brooklyn mother/son duo of Natasha Christopher and Christopher Underwood.
During her speech, Watts mentioned the shooting death of NYPD Officer Brian Moore and chalked it up to “first-hand negative consequences of our nation’s lax gun laws,” noting that he was killed with an illegal gun from Georgia, only fueling MDA’s motivations to stop the violence more.
“We’re the most organized and passionate counterweight the gun lobby has ever seen,” said Watts. “We will not sit idly by and allow special interest groups to put more guns in more places, no questions asked, because that puts our loved ones’ lives at risk.”
Christopher’s speech focused on losing her son, Akeal – age 14 – three years ago when he was shot by gang members after a graduation party in Bushwick.
“[Akeal] was a smart, loving child and I miss him every single day,” said Christopher, fighting back tears at the podium. “His story is sadly a common one for so many kids in America. I’m honoring the memory of my son by standing up for the laws that will keep guns away from criminals and other dangerous people.”
Underwood – Akeal’s younger eight-year-old brother who now serves as a MDA Junior Ambassador — mentioned how he used to look up to Akeal.
“Gun violence killed him and took him away from me forever,” said Underwood. “I was angry about losing him, so I took my pain and anger and turned it into action. I know my brother would be proud of me and I will never forget him. I also fight hard every day because I want people to understand that all lives matter.”
Christopher commented on the day’s message of positivity and said she was proud her youngest son had become an advocate against gun violence.
“This was an amazing event,” said Christopher. “You know, we’re not living in a world anymore where gun violence doesn’t exist. It does exist and we need to bring more attention to it.”