Following the tragic event at the Highland Park parade on July 4 that killed 7 people and wounded more than 30 others, Kitty Brandtner, a Winnetka mom of three, took to social media to vent her frustrations.
“When will enough be enough?”
“Why would a human NEED an AR-15?”
“What is stopping the President from drafting an executive order to ban these weapons?”
As she continued to ask questions like these, hundreds of likes and comments poured in. Energized by that support, she decided, on a whim, to turn her anger into action and organize a peaceful protect at The Capitol the following week.
The movement, called March Fourth, is now a non-profit organization with one mission in mind — to federally ban assault weapons.
According to Everytown, firearms are the leading cause of death for American children and teens. Currently, only 7 states and D.C. have laws banning assault rifles.
“These weapons were created to kill as many people as possible in seconds, as effectively as possible. They simply shouldn’t be accessed by civilians,” Brandtner says. “Highland Park should be the last community to be devastated by assault weapons.”
Word about March Fourth spread far and wide very quickly thanks to a group of North Shore moms who stepped up to volunteer by lending their expertise to manage social media, contact legislators, create itineraries, book travel and more.
Brandtner and more than 500 other angry and motivated moms traveled to DC on July 13 to make their voices heard. Tens of thousands of virtual supporters were behind them. Travel expenses for any survivor or victim of gun violence in Highland Park or Uvalde, Texas (approximately 100 additional in attendance) were paid for through a GoFundMe that raised more than $250,000 just five days after the shooting. Additional funds raised were split between victims of Uvalde and Highland Park.
While at The Capitol, the March Fourth committee, joined by other mass shooting victims and survivors, had two straight days of meetings with 15 high-level White House officials, including the Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff. These meetings usually take months to set up.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in any of these meetings,” says Brandtner, who took a leave of absence from her company to lead March Fourth. “We have the full support of the President and Vice President.”
Gun Control: What’s Been Done
On June 25, following the tragedy in Uvalde, TX, and a week before the Highland Park shooting, the House and Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which combines gun safety legislation with funding for mental health and school security resources.
On July 29, H.R. 1808, a federal ban on assault weapons passed in the House and will go to the Senate for a vote. The March Fourth organization is credited with helping to pass this ban, which was sitting in the House since March, 2021.
Gun Control: What’s Left To Do
H.R. 1808, now in the Senate is called S.736, requires the support of at all 50 Democrats and at least 10 Republicans to defeat a guaranteed filibuster.
Currently, getting Senator support for this bill remains a top priority for March Fourth.
“Our voices grow louder with each day assault weapons are on the streets and we will not stop until they are gone,” says Brandtner. “Our feelings don’t change just because time has passed. This is only the beginning.”
How to Help
Those who want to help the March Fourth cause can donate, or sign up to volunteer in various capacities by filling out a volunteer interest form. The organization has also made it as easy as possible to take action by contacting senators with social media click to call links and asking for their support on S.736.
“We are at a boiling point in American history,” says Brandtner. “It is our duty, as parents and citizens to protect our children. I refuse to believe that mass shootings are simply a part of American life. We need to take advantage of this momentum and continue to make our voices heard.”
Looking for more resources on the impact of gun violence on children? Visit our A Concerned Parent’s Guide to Gun Violence and Gun Safety.
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