Wichita mother Katy Tyndell pulled on a bright red Mom's Demand Action shirt Thursday decorated with colorful buttons expressing opposition to gun violence.
Tyndell's fashion choice reflected her role as a volunteer with the Kansas chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. About 100 of her colleagues marked the first anniversary of the assault at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which left 17 students and staff members dead, by lobbying at the Capitol in Topeka for reform legislation.
Her personal commitment to the debate was tied to the future of her three young children and her black spouse, who she said was 14 times more likely to be shot and killed than a white adult male.
"We're not going to stop every mass shooting," said Tyndell, who is a gun owner. "We're not going to stop every criminal from getting a gun. But if we can save one life that would have been lost to gun violence, then our work will have been worth it."
During the 2019 legislative session, the organization wants to build on passage of a bipartisan bill in 2018 prohibiting most domestic abusers from possessing firearms. Moms Demand Action volunteers want to take the state law one step further by providing law enforcement with the tools to fully enforce a legal standard requiring domestic abusers to relinquish firearms.
The 100 volunteers with the Kansas chapter also expressed interest in adoption by Kansas lawmakers of a "red-flag law," which would empower family members or police to petition a state court for an order allowing temporary seizure of weapons from a person at risk of self-harm or violence against others.
Lt. Gov. Lynn Rogers told members of the group the administration of Gov. Laura Kelly wouldn't shy away from reform proposals making Kansans safer without undermining the constitutional right to bear arms. He said the administration had interest in strengthening background checks on firearm purchases.
He said the state's strongest gun-rights supporters and people scattered along the political spectrum needed to work together.
"We don't sleep as well as we used to," said Rogers, a former Wichita state senator and school board member. "We must move beyond partisan divides on this issue."
Tyndell said the anniversary of the Florida high school massacre was a time to pay tribute to those victims and to remind Kansas lawmakers Moms Demand Action would stand with all Republicans and Democrats who embraced legislation protecting communities.
"This isn't an us versus them," she said. "It has to be all sides coming together to make our communities safer. That's the only way this is going to work."