Captain Marvel got in the middle of an intergalactic battle once again, scoring some points for women with courage. The female superhero this time is our own Brie Larson, originally from Santa Clarita, which is exciting enough, but the movie also exceeded expectations, ranking sixth in highest grossing global film debuts, with $455 million.
As wonderful as it is to see another female-driven movie show its strength, the unfortunate part of the trend is that it’s taken so long. “Captain Marvel” is the 21st film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which means the studio took 10 years to place a woman front-and-center, while DC Comics only took four years to bring us “Wonder Woman.”
Captain Marvel and her cadre reminded us how much can be accomplished when we band together, and Larson isn’t the only woman in the Santa Clarita universe who is flying “higher, further, faster” for the good of others.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting safety and reducing the number of deaths and injuries from gun violence. It was established by a band of women following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and now there are chapters in all 50 United States.
The Santa Clarita chapter is one year old this month, growing from just three moms last year to monthly meetings with dozens of locals plus a Facebook community of more than 350.
Before you make assumptions about the group, you need to know it’s bipartisan and the focus is educational.
“We are not anti-guns,” said Stacee Wilhite, deputy chapter leader for Moms Demand Action at the state level. “We are not anti-Second Amendment. We are for common-sense gun laws. We want to see people be smart. And we want to see kids be safe.”
Wilhite and her family had only lived in Santa Clarita for about six months when the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, occurred. She heard about the nonprofit organization and attended the first meeting. From there, she joined the others in the March for our Lives and went to Sacramento for Advocacy Day, where she will return next week.
“Moms Demand Action is going to the Capitol next month to advocate for increased funding for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Program,” she said. “The ‘ask’ this year of the legislative season is to fund CalVIP. It currently has $9 million set aside for it, but it’s only 23 cents per capita – not enough to provide to youth what’s needed. We want them to set aside $39 million.”
The programs they want funded by CalVIP are those that give children somewhere to go after school, to help them with their education and provide activities, which contributes to the safety of kids.
More than 90 people per day are killed by gun violence, according to the Moms Demand Action website. “Every 36 hours a child unintentionally fires a gun and kills or injures him/herself or someone else,” the site says.
That doesn’t count suicides and some of the homicides that occur, and those unintentional firings are preventable. There are safety practices not being put into place, which is why the organization has the Be SMART campaign, an educational program that provides steps to secure guns and prevent tragedies. All you need to do is ask and they will present the program to your group or workplace.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is linked to several other organizations such as Everytown for Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
These groups work to correct misinformation and take action, not just talk about possibilities. When a mass shooting occurs, I hear many people dismiss it as just another act by a mentally ill shooter, which keeps the public from any sort of discussion about our conduct where guns are concerned.
“There are many issues that intersect with gun violence, but our primary focus is guns and evidence-based solutions that will save the most lives,” Wilhite said. “People with mental illness commit less than 5 percent of violent crimes. They are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators.”
It’s a non-partisan, grassroots organization that aims to make sure children are not in the presence of unsecured guns.
“With all these shootings they said, ‘We thought this couldn’t happen here, we’re such a safe community,’” Wilhite said. “Like Santa Clarita – we feel small, we’re safe, we have that great community.”
Reducing the possibility of a tragedy close to home is what Moms Demand Action is advocating through such events as Wear Orange, June 7-9, which is a gun violence prevention weekend.
More safety and less tragedy seems to be eons in the making. But like we’ve seen over time, it takes a group of like-minded women to harness their superpowers and put a stop to destructive forces. And it’s nice to know Santa Clarita is a source of that energy.
The Santa Clarita chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America meets once a month. To contact the group, email [email protected] You can also find them on Facebook. Find more about CalVIP on their website here: http://www.bscc.ca.gov/s_cpgpcalvipgrant.php
Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal.