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“Moms Demand Action” National Gun Safety Group Founder Shannon Watts to Headline Arlington Dems’ Oct. 19 Golden Gala

Sheila Bynum-Coleman, Surging Democratic Challenger to the Virginia House Speaker, Will Also Fire Up Activists Heading into Pivotal November Election

ARLINGTON, VA., Monday, Sept. 23, 2019Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action Against Gun Violence in America (Moms Demand Action) will rally progressive activists at the Arlington County Democratic Committee’s (Arlington Dems) annual Golden Gala on Oct. 19.

Joining Watts will be activist Sheila Bynum-Coleman, whose campaign to unseat right-wing Republican Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox in this year’s pivotal election, has attracted national attention.

The event will be from 6-9 p.m. at Lyon Village Community House, 1920 N. Highland St., in Arlington.

The commonwealth is the only state in the country in which Democrats are regarded as having a serious shot at flipping both houses of its legislature blue this year. Virginia Republicans now have only a two-seat majority in both the House of Delegates and the Senate. The state’s Democratic Party has mounted formidable #FightFor51 and #Fightfor21 campaigns to flip both houses blue, but success will require significant financial and organizing support.

Watts was a stay-at-home mother of five and former communications executive at the time of the Dec. 14, 2012, Sandy Hook Elementary School gun massacre. A day later, she created a Facebook group imploring Americans to do more to reduce gun violence. The resulting online conversation transformed into a grassroots movement that led to the creation of Moms Demand Action, one of the most powerful gun safety organizations in the United States.

Moms Demand Action now has a chapter in every U.S. state, and is part of the 6-million-strong, Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country.

“Because Congress is unwilling to tackle common sense gun-safety legislation, we are fighting and winning this battle one state at a time,” Watts said. “We’ve shown that we can make a difference in the voting booth, including in several important past elections in Virginia. Moms Demand Action is excited to support Arlington Democrats and its work to flip both houses of the Virginia Legislature so that the commonwealth’s citizens can be safer through passage of common sense gun safety legislation.”

Watts said Moms Demand Action was particularly interested in supporting Virginia gun-safety candidates, like Bynum-Coleman, after the indifferent reaction of the commonwealth’s Republicans to the May 31 Virginia Beach gun massacre that killed 12 and injured four. After only two hours, Republicans, under Cox’s House leadership, adjourned a July 9 special state legislative session called by Gov. Ralph Northam to consider new gun-safety measures. Although Cox labeled the special session an “election-year stunt,” Democratic challenger Bynum-Coleman has made strengthening gun-safety laws a campaign priority.

“We’re particularly grateful for the support of Moms Demand Action after the total failure in leadership by Virginia Republicans following the Virginia Beach tragedy,” Arlington Democrats Chair Jill Caiazzo said. “Arlington Dems are laser-focused on common-sense gun safety reform, and we’re working incredibly hard to elect gun-safety advocates throughout the state. We invite everyone in the community committed to ending the horrors of gun violence to join us Oct. 19 to be inspired by Shannon Watts.”

Individual tickets to the Golden Gala are available online for $150, but for only $100 more, supporters also gain admission to Arlington Dems’ “Honoring a Senior Dem Celebration” Sunday, Sept. 22, and Arlington Young Democrats’ Knok-Toberfest, Saturday, Oct. 5. Seniors, Young Democrats, and members of Arlington Dems’ Roosevelt-Obama Society receive discounts on individual event and Gold Card prices.

“Much is at stake for the everyday lives of Virginians in the Nov. 5 election,” Caiazzo said. “The Arlington Dems’ Gold Card gives you access to great events leading up to the election and directly funds our efforts to organize victorious campaigns for Democratic candidates seeking office this year, and to build a Democratic powerhouse for 2020. You can make a difference by supporting -- and joining! -- our efforts to spread the positive Democratic message in our community and to get out the vote in November.”

The Arlington County Democratic Committee (Arlington Dems) is the official county organization for the Democratic Party of Virginia. Arlington Dems is open to anyone interested in advancing Democratic candidates, policy priorities and values in Arlington and beyond. Learn more at the Arlington Democrats website, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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