On the tenth anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting, Shannon Watts spoke about the progress made since founding her organization Moms Demand Action to combat gun violence in America. And, she said she “absolutely” sees a light at the end of the tunnel, even admit America’s continuing gun violence epidemic.
Panel moderator and TheWrap founder Sharon Waxman noted that the NRA is getting “weaker and weaker and more exposed for being kind of a corrupt organization,” and asked Watts directly if despite “all the shootings that keep happening,” if she sees that light.”
“I absolutely do,” Watts said. “When I started doing this work a decade ago, about a quarter of all Democrats in Congress had an A rating from the NRA. Today none do and in fact, 15 Republicans signed on to the bipartisan Safer Communities Act as I mentioned that passed this summer,” she said. “So we are slowly but surely loosening the grip that the gun lobby has had on our lawmakers and even getting Republicans to be on the right side of this issue. And that’s how you win in this country.”
“It isn’t just having Democrats on your side. You really need every lawmaker to feel like if they do the right thing, you’ll have their back but if they do the wrong thing, you’ll have their job,” Watts continued. “That’s the secret to any social issue, and so I think that is what we’ve done right? This army of angry — and we’re not just moms anymore — we’re mothers and others, students and survivors, but they need to fear these people in red shirts who show up — by the way we owned red before Donald Trump — that show up and show that we have our eyes on them, and that we will thank them for doing the right thing and we will shame them for doing the wrong thing.”
Waxman noted that nearly 150 people who have volunteered for Moms Demand were elected to political offices in the 2022 midterms, noting that it’s been a long journey there from the group’s humble beginnings. Watts noted that the whole thing started after her shock and horror seeing the news reports in real time about the Sandy Hook massacre and that what became Moms Demand started from something she wrote on her Facebook page.
“If you know anything about type A women, you know that they began calling me and direct messaging me and emailing me and saying, I want to do this where I live. And none of us really knew what ‘this’ was. We just knew we had to start organizing and that’s what we did,” she said. “I have spent the last 10 years as a full time volunteer, working to change this issue legislatively, electorally, culturally. And here we are. 10 years later, we have 10 million supporters. We’re twice as large as the NRA,” she said.
Watts also noted that she drew inspiration from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and noted some of the amazing achievements her group has helped contribute to since 2012. “Not only have we passed hundreds of good gun laws in this country in state houses, and the first federal piece of legislation passed this summer, the first in 30 years in this country, but we also stopped the NRA’s agenda 90% of the time, a year, for the last 7 years in state houses in this country,” Watts said.
Watts spoke at the TheWrap’s 2022 Power Women Summit for a Conversation featuring four of the 32 women who made TheWrap’s 2022 Changemakers — Women Who Saved Entertainment — list. Watts was joined by Sara Hess, executive producer and writer on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” prequel series “House of the Dragon,” Tia Lessin, co-director of HBO’s “The Janes” Tia Lessin and Founder of Future Generations Now Skyler Griswold. The panel was presented by Johnnie Walker.
The Power Women Summit (PWS) is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides two days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “A Time to Unite.” Learn more here: thewrap.com/pws.