Demanding Action in Boise


Photo Credit: Jess Westoff

“These are Idaho volunteers at the (Moms Demand Action) national conference this summer,” Jess Westhoff, pictured back row, first from the left, explains.

McKenna Johnson, Editor-In-Chief

“So far in 2019 there have been 22 shootings at U.S. schools in which someone was hurt or killed.”

This was the first line written by Michelle Lou and Christina Walker earlier this summer in an article for CNN called, There have been 22 school shootings in the U.S. so far this year.

22 school shootings between January and July of 2019 averages about three shootings a month, not counting school shootings past July until now. 

This is the tragic reality we live in; school shootings happen. They get reported. Then we forget about them. We are becoming desensitized to shootings in general. 

One non-profit group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is trying to change this. 

MDA was founded by a woman named Shannon Watts, a mother of five, who started a Facebook group the day after the Sandy Hook shooting. Since then, the grassroots movement has spread to all 50 states with a mission to promote – you guessed it – gun sense in America.

You don’t have to travel far to support the group or partake in volunteer activities – we have our very own Moms Demand Action group right here in Boise, one of the four groups across the state that make up the Idaho chapter. 

The group’s activism would not be possible without dedicated leaders and volunteers. Jess Westhoff is a Boise Group Co-lead for the Idaho Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She got involved with the group about two years ago. “Two years ago, a friend of mine told me about a local organization that is working to end gun violence,” she says. “I attended a meeting of Boise’s newly organized Moms Demand Action chapter and felt incredibly inspired by the hard-working and passionate moms, dads, grandparents, students, and others who are committed to advocating for sensible solutions to end gun violence.” 

In order to promote gun sense in America, MDA advocates for a variety of things, such as universal background checks and the closing of dangerous loopholes “Our mission is to advocate for evidence-based public safety policies that protect people from gun violence. We also work directly with families to educate about responsible gun storage. Through advocacy and education, we are committed to creating a culture of gun safety and ending gun violence,” Westhoff tells me. 

It is important to note that Moms Demand Action is not anti-second amendment. They advocate for safer regulations to protect not only children and non-gun owning citizens, but also gun owners and carriers themselves. 

While Westhoff admits the work can be emotionally draining, it is absolutely worth it. “We must keep going…If all concerned individuals do what they can – whether it’s calling their senators to demand background checks on all gun sales, hosting a presentation on responsible gun storage, or attending a monthly volunteer meeting – we will do more than stay afloat; we will dramatically reduce gun violence.”

“We would love to have students attend our monthly volunteer meeting,” Westhoff continues to tell me. “This is an opportunity to learn about state and federal policies, participate in trainings to become a stronger advocate, and join a small team to take action.” If interested, you can check out the Moms Demand Action Facebook page, website, or text READY to 644-33 for more information. They would love to have interested and passionate students join their cause.