The local chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (MDA) has shown growth in the area and will be endorsing candidates that support the wants of the organization.

MDA stands firmly on a platform centered around gun sense legislation. The non-partisan group has elected to endorse any candidate they award the gun sense distinction award. In the upcoming congressional race between incumbent Republican Representative Sam Graves and Democrat challenger Henry Martin, the organization has elected to endorse Martin as he is the only one out of the two to receive the gun sense distinction award. The organization will be campaigning on behalf of Martin at public events.

Chapter Founder and Maryville High School English Teacher Jessica Piper said the organization does not support a particular political party. MDA only endorses candidates that feature gun sense legislation in their platform. Piper said candidates can apply for the distinction.

“It is three pages that gets (the candidates) stance on gun issues,” Piper said. “Anyone can apply for it. In general, we don’t get a lot of Republicans to sign up for it, but we would love it if they did. Henry did right away and was accepted right away. His opponent, Sam Graves, has not applied for the gun sense distinction.”

Piper said she understands the topic the organization stands for is one that is particularly politically charged. However, she said she feels a majority of the political anger carried in this topic is due to a miscommunication of goals.

“We want universal background checks and we want it to go through state legislation,” Piper said. “We push for safe storage with our Be Smart program pushing for parents to keep their firearms secured.”

Not only has the organization grown in the realm of political influence, it has also helped to foster the growth of sister organizations in the area, including a group in Atchison. It also helped kick off an organization on the Northwest Missouri State University campus called Students Demand Action.

“We have two professors on staff at the university who are working with students on Students Demand,” Piper said. “We try to guide (the students), but we really wanted to give the organization over to them because we believe they are going to be the ones who make a difference and go against the NRA and the NRA money. So we want to empower them to let them do it.”

Going forward, not only would Piper like to continue to see the organization’s political influence and call to activism grow, she said she also wants to see the group connect with those whose political party does not typically support gun legislation.

“We would love to work within other political parties,” Piper said. “I have republican friends who would never leave their gun unsupervised. It’s just common sense. I’m a gun owner. We have several rifles, my kids hunt. So we’re not anti-second amendment. We just don’t think everyone should have a gun.”

Those looking to get involved with the organization can contact Piper via Facebook or go to the organization’s Facebook page. The group meets roughly every month and attendance at all meetings is not required for membership.