- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2000

Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams standing yesterday among officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District proclaimed Mother's Day Million Mom March Day and has directed city payroll offices to include a reminder with all D.C. employees' paychecks or pay stubs on May 2.

Hundreds of thousands of mothers "and others," as organizers say, are expected to converge on the Mall May 14 to highlight a call for tougher gun-control measures across the nation, including mandatory gun locks, and licensing and registration of all handguns.

"Like every mayor in this country, I am proud to support this march," Mr. Williams said.

Although Mr. Williams' claim of support may be political hyperbole, that so many of the region's elected leaders joined him on Capitol Hill to endorse the march is a testament that the gun-control banner is becoming a rallying point this election year.

"We welcome the way the region is closing in around this march," said Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District's nonvoting representative in Congress. "We are at the epicenter of gun running and because we ban them, we particularly resent the gun violence in this city."

Backed by a multitude of national and local organizations, including the National Parent Teacher Association, announcements for the Million Mom March have been showing up in local PTA newsletters.

For some parents, such announcements are an example that political correctness and politicizing in schools has gone too far. When Phil Sessoms spotted a Million Mom March reminder in the Flower Hill Elementary Falcon, a publication of the school's PTA, he said was displeased, although he conceded he was probably in the minority.

"Had it been [a plug for a gun-rights group], I'd like to think I would have objected equally as much," Mr. Sessoms, a Gaithersburg, Md. Republican, said.

Others are determined not to be overwhelmed by the wave of support for gun control. A national gun-rights group called the Second Amendment Sisters has secured a permit that will allow 10,000 supporters to march at the same place on the same day to present a dissenting view.

The region's largely Democratic political establishment denounced the National Rifle Association yesterday, but did not mention the "Sisters," a grass-roots group that has regional coordinators in Maryland and Virginia.

During the ceremony, officials praised Maryland for groundbreaking steps it has taken toward some of the strongest gun control in the country mandating built-in locks on all new handguns sold in the state after 2002 and external locks to accompany all handguns sold beginning Oct. 1.

And they chastised Virginia lawmakers for turning down gun-control measures.

"To Virginia, which enacted a one-gun-a-month law, we're going to ask why so many?" said Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley, Democrat.

But it's the personal stories not politicians' rhetoric that are expected to move hearts and change votes. Carole Price, of Carroll County, Md., yesterday talked about her 13 year-old son, who died after he was accidentally shot by a 9-year-old playing with a handgun.

There was the tragedy Madilia Marsh suffered after her daughter Natasha Marsh and Natasha's boyfriend, Andre Wallace, both 17, were gunned down in front of her home in the District's Brookland neighborhood Feb. 8.

"I have a 7-year-old, and I have to put some protection on my child's life," Mrs. Marsh said. "We need registration and licensing… . If we have irresponsible people, they are going to think twice because they know that gun can be traced back."

The Second Amendment Sisters contend that more gun-control measures will not prevent any deaths.

"[I]t will negatively affect our ability to defend ourselves," said Debra Collins, Colorado coordinator for Second Amendment Sisters.

Ms. Collins has her own tale to tell. She said her boyfriend's gun was what kept her from being beaten once more by her ex-husband while waiting for police.

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