Maryville High School English teacher Jessica Piper has started a local chapter of Moms Demand Action, a national organization that aims to prevent gun violence.

Shannon Watts originally founded the group after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting; now it has taken root in communities across America, especially in areas with high crime like Chicago and St. Louis. Piper was already active in the North Kansas City chapter, but after the school shooting in Parkland, FL, she decided it was time to begin a chapter closer to home.

Northwest Missouri State University Police Chief Clarence Green addressed the crowd at the charter meeting of the local Moms Demand Action chapter.

The goal of Moms Demand Action is to help pass gun reform and gun safety measures by working with legislation and local action groups. Piper stressed the goal of the organization is not gun control, nor is it to interfere with second amendment protections.

Instead, Moms Demand Action focuses on keeping people safe with common sense gun laws. The group contends that some people, such as those with a history of domestic violence, should not have access to weapons.

In Missouri, Piper says people with a history of violent crime can still gain access to firearms.

Moms Demand Action is also involved with the Be SMART campaign, an educational program that teaches adults how to keep kids safe around firearms. SMART stands for:

• Secure guns in homes and vehicles

• Model responsible behavior

• Ask about unsecured guns in other homes

• Recognize the risk of teen suicide

• Tell your peers to be smart

The Moms Demand Action group has a Be SMART table at the Maryville Farmers Market each month and attended the Kids’ Block Party in May. Dr. Feuerbacher, SSM Health, Maryville, also has Be SMART information cards in his office. Piper says she has received positive feedback from parents eager to have the Be SMART information.

Currently, Eugene Field Elementary uses gun safety curriculum through the NRA called Eddie Eagle, which Piper says puts the responsibility of safety on children. The program uses songs to teach children how to behave around loaded guns. Piper believes we should instead worry about what adults are doing with guns and put the responsibility of safety back on adults. The chapter is working with the Eugene Field PTA to make Be SMART information available to parents.

Getting involved with Moms Demand Action requires no commitment. Anyone is invited to attend the monthly meetings, which will resume in August. Piper stressed because the group does not advocate for gun control or abolishing the second amendment, gun owners are more than welcome to attend. Piper, along with several other members, are proud gun owners.

Prior to the August meeting, which has not been set yet, anyone can be trained to work at the Be SMART booth at the Hopkins Picnic, July 12, 13 and 14. Volunteers should contact for more information.

Piper stresses the group will never advocate to take away rights. Instead, Moms Demand Action is determined to protect everyone’s right to safety by using a common sense approach to the second amendment and gun legislation. As Piper stated, “Not everyone needs to have access to loaded guns at all times.”