Why It's Hard to Argue With the Gun Moms

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After decades defined by roses and sappy cards, the feel-good holiday we call Mother's Day is getting a makeover: This year, the Hallmark favorite will serve as a pointed backdrop for a political clash in the nation's capital as two groups of women face off — one in favor of stricter gun control laws, the other opposed. As organizers of Sunday's Million Mom March gear up for their demonstration in support of "common sense" gun control laws, pro-gun women are organizing various countermeasures ranging from lobbying efforts to an opposition march. When Sunday rolls around, the 100,000 women who are expected to participate in the Million Mom March will be greeted with protests by a pro-gun group (largely mothers themselves) who call themselves the Second Amendment Sisters.

With only a few days before the big event, accusations are already flying thick and fast: "The Million Mom March is playing on emotions," a pro-gun mom told the Washington Post. Some might agree; the MMM web site is sprinkled with strong anti-gun language and personal vignettes that are undeniably powerful. "We, as mothers, know... that our children's lives far outweigh anyone's right to carry a semi-automatic assault weapon or a Saturday Night Special," reads one entry. One thing is certain: Whichever side you choose to support, it's tough to fault either group for its strategy: As any political analyst knows, it's very hard to argue with mothers on points of policy — either because we all harbor some deep-seated urge to obey maternal figures, or because moms are (perhaps subconsciously) milking the last vestiges of the anti-feminist assumption that motherhood makes women unassailably pure, and therefore morally infallible.

While no one knows what effect a group of moms could have on gun policy, the National Rifle Association isn't taking any chances. The NRA, from which the Second Amendment Sisters have taken pains to separate themselves, has attacked the Million Mom March in a series of television and print ads, denouncing their pleas for gun control laws as pointless, and calling instead for gun safety classes in every elementary school, so that "kids will know what to do if they find a gun." Upping the ante, the group has pledged $1 million toward those classes, and challenges members of the Million Mom March, as well as the general public, to contribute to their "safe kids" campaign. Whether he knows it or not, NRA executive vice president Wayne La Pierre may have played right into the hands of the proudly grassroots Million Mom March with his pledge drive and national advertising campaign; anti-NRA discourse on the MMM site urges participation in Sunday's march to counter "the powerful, heavily financed political juggernaut" of pro-gun lobbyists.