North Shore chapter of Moms Demand Action welcomes 800 new members since Highland Park shooting

Hundreds expected to attend Tuesday night meeting

ByLeah Hope and Liz Nagy via WLS logo
Wednesday, July 27, 2022
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The Highland Park-Deerfield "Moms Demand Action" group has welcomed 800 new members since the 4th of July parade shooting.

DEERFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of people turned out for a meeting of the Highland Park-Deerfield Moms Demand Action group Tuesday night.

The local chapter of the organization has seen a large influx of new members since the July 4th parade shooting. Speakers at Tuesday night's meeting will include survivors of that mass shooting.

"I am here because you can put a silencer on a gun but you will not put a silencer on me," said Jennifer Hulsh, new member of Moms Demand Action. "I brought myself out and thought, 'I have to do more. I'm done with these thoughts and prayers. I cannot sit here and say I want change and not do something.'"

"I will do anything. I'm a good writer. I can speak. I will help out in any way I can," said Lenore Bernstein, new member of Moms Demand Action.

Lauren Brown, the group's co-lead and a North Shore working mother of three, said she has no free time but had to make time for anti-violence activism.

"This is more important than anything my life, my children's lives," Brown said. "We've been affected now by this. It will just continue to happen unless people make the time."

Brown is a former teacher and got involved after the Uvalde school shooting. She said 800 more people have joined the local organization after the Fourth of July shooting in Highland Park.

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Hundreds of people filled a synagogue Tuesday night and more watched via livestream to learn what they can do right here ot change gun safety laws.

"The hard work and the real work that promotes change is at the ground level," said Alexi Vahlkamp, co-leader of Moms Demand Action. "We need to make sure constituents know how their legislators are voting and we need to make sure those legislators are voting for legislation that promotes public safety."

With a hotly contested statewide election months away, they're looking to seize the moment.

The national organization Moms Demand Action were part of the rally and march in Washington, D.C., earlier this month and its members were among those who met with Congressional leaders to advocate for tighter gun control.

The Deerfield/Highland Park chapter is welcoming new volunteers and planning their next steps.

"I'm hoping that this movement we are seeing here locally is a reflection of a greater movement nationwide," Brown said.

"There's been a groundswell of support of mothers and others saying enough is enough," said Debra Baum, a new volunteer with the group. "We cannot live like this, we need our elected officials to hear us and to make change."

Baum was with her children and grandchild at the Highland Park parade. They were not injured, but many around them were.

"I think people want to do something to create change and make their lives better," Baum said, "and to make sure other communities don't suffer from the same devastation that we have."

The local leads of Moms Demand Action hope to harness the energy of new volunteers to create policy and legislation to restrict assault weapons, starting with a House bill currently before the Illinois State legislature.

While not everyone in attendance shared that specific agenda, they are pushing with a collective and inclusive consciousness.

"We do support the second amendment because there are responsible firearm owners out there," said one attendee. "And we encourage them strongly to join us and many are sitting amongst us today."