This Movement Wants White Women to Lead the Charge on Gun Control

woman holding up sign saying "stop the guns now"

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One group is taking unprecedented action to end an epidemic of violence.

Gun violence in the U.S. is an epidemic: There have been more mass shootings than days in 2023, and gun violence is the number-one killer of children and teens. Not cars, not diseases — guns. 

In fact, the number of children and teens killed by gunfire increased 50 percent between 2019 and 2021. From schools to outlet malls, from Texas to California, nowhere in the country is immune from this uniquely American problem. It’s been 24 years since Columbine, 11 years since Sandy Hook, one year since Uvalde, and we’re still asking, “What can we do to make this stop?” 

To help with answering that question, an organization spearheaded by Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color (BIWOC) leadership called Here 4 The Kids is hosting an in-person day of action to take a meaningful step towards ending gun violence — a step that goes beyond donating money and making phone calls to elected officials.

On June 5 in Denver, Colorado, Here 4 The Kids is inviting cisgender, non-disabled white women above the age of 18 (stay with us, we’ll explain) to peacefully protest on the lawn of the Colorado State Capitol. So far, 25,000 women are expected to attend. They’re demanding that Gov. Jared Polis sign an executive order to ban all guns (more on that below) and institute a buy-back program. That might sound impossible, but similar efforts have been done — in the United States, no less. New York City instituted a Cash For Guns program in April 2023, and the one-day event took more than 3,000 of guns off the street

We spoke with Here 4 The Kids co-founder Tina Strawn about how the movement got started and why they’re intentionally asking white women in particular to show up.

How did Here 4 The Kids come about?

It was a combination of the frustration Saira Rao [co-author of White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better] and I felt watching the gun violence problem increase, and not seeing any legislative changes that [would stop] how many kids are dying due to guns, along with white women saying, “We are here. We are understanding the messaging of how we want to do better, and we want to fight white supremacy.” Saira called me up at the end of March and was like, “I got it. Let’s ask these governors to sign an executive order to ban guns and buy them back. And let’s have white women be the ones to show up and make that happen and make that demand.”

Why white women?

As a movement, we are prioritizing the safety of marginalized groups and vulnerable groups, and cisgender, non-disabled white women are historically and statistically the least likely to be brutalized or harmed by the police. The action on June 5 in Denver is a peaceful sit-in and an act of civil disobedience. Despite the fact that these women are gathering in a nonviolent and peaceful way, we do know that there will be a police presence. And that’s why it is white women just because, again — historically and statistically — they are the least likely to be brutalized by the police. So this is an opportunity for white women who consider themselves to be antiracist, who consider themselves to be co-conspirators and accomplices in the fight for racial justice, to put their bodies and their privilege and their power on the line to fight white supremacy and anti-blackness in the form of the Second Amendment. 

Can you explain the importance of this movement being BIWOC-led?

We are using the blueprint that our Black civil rights leaders gave to us when we look at the march from Selma to Montgomery. Six hundred peaceful demonstrators came for that march, and when they showed up on that bridge in Selma, they were met with the Alabama state troopers and brutalized, beaten, and hospitalized, just so that they could exercise their right to vote. As a result of their sacrifice and their action inside of this civil disobedience, that is how we got the Voting Rights Act of 1965. So this is our honoring of Black history by using the blueprint that our leaders gave us back then and saying, “If we the people are going to come together to effect change, this is what it looks like because our ancestors have shown us.” So that is fueling hope throughout the entire movement.

Why Colorado? 

We want to go after the Democratic governors, as they are the ones that seem to be most likely to care about gun safety, gun control, and the fact that guns are the number one killer of kids. Additionally, Colorado is one of the states that has the highest number of mass shootings. 

You’re leading with white women, but can others get involved?

Yes! We have a robust remote campaign that we are inviting people to be a part of. Anyone that is a person of color, we invite them to be a part of the remote campaign. Folks in the LGBTQIA+ community, we invite them to come to the remote campaign. Folks with disabilities, chronic pain, chronic illness, caretakers of others who may have disabilities — we want everyone to be a part of it, but just through the remote campaign, because that’s the only way we can guarantee safety. 

What would you say to people who’d argue that banning guns and buying them back goes against the Second Amendment?

It absolutely goes against the Second Amendment. That’s why it’s necessary for a governor to sign an executive order to ban them, because then that forces us to look at the Second Amendment. Guns are the number one killer of kids in America, and the number of kids dying due to gun violence has increased by 50 percent over the past two years. There has been a lot of progress made in terms of changing the legal age [to buy guns] from 18 to 21. Some states have banned assault rifles, some states are requiring a certain process in terms of getting licensing. So we have a lot of gun control legislation, and yet we still have an out-of-control gun violence culture. So we are demanding that our governors take the Second Amendment on as something that we want changed.

How would you respond to people who’d say banning all guns is unrealistic or even unattainable?

We are a movement of imagination. As thousands of mothers, we emphatically reject the notion that getting rid of the thing that is killing our kids is unrealistic or unattainable. Banning guns is absolutely possible, and we are firm in our hope and belief that we can have a future as a nation where guns are not killing our kids. 

As parents, our jobs are to take care of and protect our kids. Guns are not protecting our kids. Guns are killing our kids. And because guns are what is killing our kids more than anything else, then we are committing ourselves to doing whatever it takes to get rid of the guns. We know getting rid of guns is possible because other countries have done it and have shown us the way. Other countries have responded to mass and school shootings by banning guns and instituting buy back programs. And because those countries have banned guns, they can begin to heal. 

What does racism have to do with the Second Amendment? 

We talk about the Second Amendment being a combination of white supremacy and anti-Blackness, because it was written for the purpose of allowing white slave owners to use guns to prevent militias or slave uprisings. Of course, the enslaved Africans were not even being considered people, so that’s the anti-blackness aspect of it. And the white supremacy aspect is granting power to the white slave-owning men to use guns and have guns to maintain their supremacy and their power.

What’s the mood going into June 5?

I feel more hope than I’ve ever had in the country. What that we’re doing is unexplored, and it’s unprecedented. For the first time I feel like we have a real opportunity to make significant changes, because we are the people and we’re going to show up and make this demand of the governors.