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What these local moms are doing to tighten 'loopholes in our laws' regarding guns

Mount Nittany Middle School teacher Kizzy Nicholas speaks during a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meeting Sunday, May 20, 2018 at Foxdale Village.
Mount Nittany Middle School teacher Kizzy Nicholas speaks during a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meeting Sunday, May 20, 2018 at Foxdale Village. psheehan@centredaily.com

After the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February, several local moms wanted to find a way to help facilitate a community dialogue about gun violence in America.

Eventually, through word of mouth and a Facebook group, the Centre Region chapter of Moms Demand Action was formed.

"We support the Second Amendment, but we recognize that there are some ways that we can tighten up some loopholes in our laws to make things safer for Pennsylvania families," group member Lori Wieder said.

Moms Demand Action is a national, nonpartisan organization with one goal: establish common-sense gun reform. The group isn't anti-gun, it's pro gun safety, Wieder said.

The Centre Region chapter has already amassed more than 700 likes on its Facebook page and has about 25 members on its steering committee. Being a mom is not a prerequisite to join, though — all are welcome.

"We really want to be a place where people can come together and talk about what we have in common, and use that as a starting point and move from there," Wieder said.

Group leader Maggie Ellis said their focus right now is pushing for a domestic violence prevention bill (Senate Bill 501) to be passed. Under current state law, weapons can be confiscated if a protection-from-abuse order is put in place. However, the alleged abuser has 60 days to give them up. One problem Ellis said is that those weapons can be given to friends or family members.

SB 501 seeks to require firearms to be turned into law enforcement or a federally licensed firearms dealer within 48 hours of a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction or 24 hours of a protection-from-abuse order.

The group met with local legislators, and at their monthly meetings they hold discussions and informational presentations about how the legislative process works.

In addition to growing their own group, the Centre Region chapter of Moms Demand Action wants to help start a local chapter of Students Demand Action. Ellis said State High students have been "fantastic" in their response to the school shootings around the country, but she wants students from all over the region to join forces to promote their issues.

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The next Moms Demand Action event will be from 5-8 p.m. June 1 in front of Schlow Centre Region Library. Members will be participating in the Wear Orange campaign, which commemorates the lives lost from gun violence.

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