By Shelby Mullis
PHILADELPHIA — When Terrell Bryant lost two of his best friends to gun violence, he stepped in to make a change.
“My first friend, when I first entered kindergarten—he died to gun violence,” he said. “My teammate on the basketball team my senior year, I lost him to gun violence. You have a great deal of gun violence in the city of Philadelphia. This is a good place to make awareness.”
Bryant, of Pittsville, Pennsylvania, joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, an organization known for their work in demanding action from legislators, businesses and educational institutions to introduce gun reforms.
Created by former Indianapolis resident Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action started and quickly spread across the nation as a network of people joined to prevent gun violence in America following the mass shooting of 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
“I’ve been pretty active trying to do something about gun violence,” Bryant said.
When Bryant walked in the Wear Orange march to promote gun responsibility, he saw the Moms Demand Action booth and immediately joined.
Bryant and a number of members traveled to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention for the week to promote Moms Demand Action. Deb Marteslo came from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to support the organization.
“I joined the day after Sandy Hook and I vowed that day that I would never sit back and not take action again because we lost 20 children,” Marteslo said. “It was just heartbreaking and I realized that day that my pain and my anger didn’t mean anything if I didn’t act on it.”
Since day one, Moms Demand Action has gained over 3.5 million members and continues to grow.
“It’s really impacting and I want to try to make a difference,” Bryant said. “I’m trying to bring more awareness about it and the things you can do to make a change—make the phone call to your legislator, email or join in with groups like this. The more people you inform, you have greater chance of making a difference.”
Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.