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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Mother of All Marches

Moms to Trade Pampering for Protest Against Gun Violence

May 10, 2000|KATIE COOPER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

For some Ventura County moms, this Mother's Day will not feature the holiday's customary pampering, like sleeping late and breakfast in bed.

Instead, politically active mothers will be hustling their families out the door and down to Los Angeles on Sunday to add their voices to what organizers say will be the largest one-day demonstration in U.S. history for stronger gun control laws.

Galvanized into action by a spate of high-profile shootings, mothers across the country are joining Sunday's Million Mom March--actually a series of rallies in Washington, D.C. and dozens of cities--to push for new restrictions on firearms.

Thousand Oaks resident Claire Fratello said she signed up for one of the two Los Angeles marches planned on Mother's Day because she is tired of seeing news reports of gun violence.

"I don't understand why there can't be some kind of reasonable gun control," said Fratello, a mother of two. "We needed some kind of political movement. Now we have this rather diverse group with one voice to fight the NRA."

A gun-rights group not affiliated with the National Rifle Assn., the Second Amendment Sisters, has planned counter demonstrations at the nation's capital as well as in other cities that are hosting rallies.

"Simply banning guns is not going to stop criminals from getting guns," said Joe Laria, California coordinator of the countermarches. "Laws are for law-abiding people."

But Nicole Sutton, a Simi Valley mother of five, said she is not seeking a ban on guns.

"I'm not against guns--my husband has owned them," said Sutton, 28, who was inspired to sign up for the Los Angeles march by comedian Rosie O'Donnell, who will serve as emcee of the Washington rally. "They're just way too accessible to the wrong people."

Event organizers--including men and women without children--support a variety of restrictions on firearms, including registration of weapons, background checks, safety locks and a limit of one handgun purchase a month.

March leaders and participants say they will hold politicians accountable if tougher restrictions are not enacted.

Fillmore resident Donna Edwards, a registered Republican, said she is prepared to vote against the candidates of her party if they do not demonstrate support for additional gun control.

"You can't even sit in your house and feel safe," said Edwards, a single mother with four boys. "They can drive by and shoot your kid in the head."

Edwards, 35, said she knows how to fire guns and is comfortable around them because her father was an avid hunter.

"But he would say as I would say, 'You ought to pay for your right to own them' " by agreeing to gun safety laws, said Edwards, who plans to join marchers in West Los Angeles on Sunday morning. A second march will be held in downtown Los Angeles beginning at 1:30 p.m. at Union Station.

There will be similar demonstrations in San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Houston, Salt Lake City and 31 other major cities.

Laura Kelly, the local coordinator for Ventura County residents preparing to participate in the demonstrations, said the Second Amendment Sisters and the NRA should be scared.

"All these women are coming together, and we vote," Kelly said. "We have a voice and you better pay attention."

Kelly, a single mother who works for an Internet company, is recovering from her own encounter with gun violence.

Her 4-year-old son, Hunter, attended day camp at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills where alleged gunman Buford O. Furrow Jr. opened fire on preschoolers, teachers and staff.

Hunter was photographed holding a policeman's hand as a daisy chain of children was led from the center after the shooting last August. She and her son relocated to Thousand Oaks after the shooting, in which one child was seriously injured. Furrow is also accused of killing a Filipino American postal carrier the same day.

"These incidents are just getting too close to home," said Maggie Hood, a Ventura resident who plans to join a caravan to the West Los Angeles march that will depart from Thousand Oaks City Hall at 8:30 a.m. Sunday. "You read about these parents standing outside the ER praying their kids will be all right. And it brings tears to my eyes."

Hood, a mother of two, said she is inspired by the large numbers of county residents who say they will attend the rallies in Los Angeles.

"Just think how many people are going to give up going to brunch or on a hike or just lying in bed for all hours," she said. "It's worth it."

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