After Sandy Hook, we'll never be silent on guns again

Story highlights

  • Shannon Watts: Moms are banding together to change our country's culture of gun violence, and it's working
  • Moms Demand Action have contributed to the defeat of dozens of gun lobby bills in Congress

Shannon Watts is the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a part of Everytown for Gun Safety. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Three years ago today, I was sitting at my kitchen counter, devastated and outraged by the tragedy that had played out on my television: 20 first-graders and six educators were gunned down by a heavily armed gunman in the sanctity of an American elementary school -- Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Shannon Watts
As the day went on, my sadness and anger turned into resolve. I didn't know quite what to do, but I knew I had to do something to prevent this from happening to my children or to anyone's children.
At the time, I was a stay-at-home mom of five living in Indianapolis. Because I had no experience in politics or activism, my first instinct was to look for an existing organization of women taking on the issue of gun violence in America, but my search turned up empty. Where was the Mothers Against Drunk Driving of gun violence prevention?
    I decided to try and reach out to other American moms who I knew in my gut were feeling the same way as I was. I opened my laptop in my kitchen and started a Facebook page. That day, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was born.
    Fast forward to 2015: Joined now with Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action is part of the largest grassroots gun violence prevention organization in the country Our movement includes nearly 3.5 million volunteers and supporters more than 85,000 donors and a chapter in every state.
    Despite our amazing success, after mass shootings such as the one in San Bernardino (the deadliest since Sandy Hook), people often ask why I volunteer my time to the issue of gun safety given that "nothing has changed since the Sandy Hook shooting." To this I say, something DID happen: Moms happened. And what we've managed to accomplish in just three years is nothing short of remarkable.
    Moms are changing our country's culture of gun violence by pushing back against the gun lobby's dangerous "guns for anyone, anytime, anywhere" agenda.
    We're educating Americans -- gun owners and nongun owners alike -- about responsible gun storage through our Be SMART campaign.
    Because more than 2 million American children live in homes with unsecured guns, according to Everytown's analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we have an opportunity to reduce unintentional shootings by children who get their hands on guns because of adult negligence. Since launching Be SMART last year, we've already partnered with the PTA and held more than 450 Be SMART educational events across the country.