"Sisters" take on mothers

Gun-toting advocates aim message at Million Mom marchers.

Published May 12, 2000 5:51PM (EDT)

Some more "we're not going to take it anymore" women plan to march through the protest-magnet center of Washington this weekend and fight for their rights -- to own guns. And, they'd add, that includes big ol' guns as well as guns without safety locks, registration requirements or the tyranny of other government restrictions.

Consider it a version of a "Take Back the Night" march minus the mourning candles, beat-up Birkenstocks and NOW buttons.

This protest is called, a bit clunkily, the Armed Informed Mothers March (AIMM -- get it?) and the leading ladies are the Second Amendment Sisters, an anti-gun-control group that, all parties insist, has no official affiliation with the National Rifle Association. ("They're their own grass-roots movement," an NRA spokesman says.)

The Dallas-based SAS -- that's "sass" to you -- is just a few months old. The group was formed solely in reaction to Sunday's Million Mom March, the warm-and-fuzzy, superearnest Mother's Day rally on the National Mall in support of "common-sense gun control legislation."

Ironically, the two sets of marchers are playing a sort of sociopolitical role reversal. To stir support, the Moms are working the typically Republican cookie-baking, stroller-pushing thing, framing their position in mild terms only a bully could argue with -- calls for handgun licensing, background checks and more enforcement of current laws because "our children's lives are far too precious." The group's Web site is colored in pinks and lavenders and decorated with flowers, hearts and even a little apple pie. It's more Liddy Dole than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The Sisters, meanwhile, are trying to push a semifeminist empowerment message. These women are all about self-defense and fighting the Man -- or, in this case, the Mom.

"A million moms are coming for your rights," warns their Web site, where visitors are greeted by a photo of a young woman gripping a gun with two hands. Caption: "As seen by a would-be rapist (for about 0.2 second)."

The site also helpfully links to some suggested reading from Amazon.com, including "Armed and Female" and "Dial 911 and Die," and asks the potent question: "Does the American Dream include begging some violent criminal for your children's lives when you could instead have an immediate response to a threat?"

Read: Shoot the bastard cold.

The Sisters aren't planning a direct counterprotest to the Moms' rally on the Mall, to be emceed by Rosie O'Donnell. They'll hold forth just north of the Washington Monument, and will be addressed by keynote speaker Suzanna Gratia-Hupp, a Texas state representative whose parents, along with other unarmed innocents, were killed by a gun-wielding wacko 10 years ago. Larry Klayman, chairman of Judicial Watch, will also speak, as will "women from across the country who represent the 2.5 million people whose lives are saved by guns every year."

Jennifer Mogford, a 23-year-old administrative assistant for a trade association in the Washington suburbs, will stand with the Sisters. She has "been shooting for fun for eight years now," since her husband took her "out to the range and gave me a .22. It was exciting."

One time, though, when she wasn't holding the gun tightly enough, it snapped back and knocked a lens from her glasses.

"But a gun is an inanimate object," she insists. "It's not scary."

Mogford, who's childless and admits, "I've never been a very feminine person," calls the Moms "well-meaning" but "misguided."

Gun laws are ineffective, she explains, because "people intent on breaking laws are not going to register their guns, and as for the trigger-lock legislation, it wouldn't deter the kid in the Kayla Rolland incident," referring to the 6-year-old in Michigan who was shot dead, allegedly by a classmate, a more or less abandoned little boy who was living in a suspected crack house.

"The crackheads," she points out, "wouldn't have set the lock."

Of course, what he really needed, both groups might agree, was a mom.

By Christina Ianzito

Christina Ianzito is a writer who lives in Washington, D.C.

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