Why did you join Moms Demand Action?
I went to see [Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder] Shannon Watts at the Clinton School in 2016, and that was right before my son started kindergarten. I was a nervous mom. Several of my friends were already involved with Moms, and I decided to do what I could to help. I really jumped in full force.
What does membership look like today?
I’d say we have 2,000 members in the state. In 2017, we had active groups in Little Rock and Conway, and Fayetteville was just starting. Now, we have groups in Arkadelphia, Bentonville, Batesville, Cabot, El Dorado, Hot Springs — it’s really grown. That’s what’s most important to me. It’s not just the growth in Little Rock, which has been significant. We’re trying to get volunteers all over the state so we can hold our lawmakers accountable when they’re filing these extreme gun bills.
You don’t have to be a mom or a woman to be in Moms Demand Action, right?
No, you don’t. We joke that it’s “mothers and others.” Moms Demand Action was sort of modeled after Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Fighting for your kids is a really strong motivator. But we welcome any and everyone to join us.
What’s the biggest misconception about the group’s mission?
We’re still fighting the misconception that we’re anti-gun or gun grabbers. A lot of our members are gun owners or married to gun owners. We have members who are hunters and members who have their concealed carry license. We just want better gun laws to keep guns away from people with dangerous histories and kids. For instance, we have our Be SMART program, which is all about gun safety and gun storage. So in a community like Cabot, where we’ve had our stuff set up, people were shocked to know, “Oh, you’re a gun owner and you’re giving away gun locks and you just want to talk to me about not having our guns stolen out of our cars or on a bedside table where a toddler can get it?”
Arkansas is among a minority of states in the country without a stand-your-ground law. Moms Demand Action focused much of its energy during the last legislative session ensuring a bill that would have changed that didn’t pass. How’d you pull it off?
One of our key successes was having members there at hearing after hearing. They ended up building relationships with lawmakers and becoming friendly with lots of them. Having our red shirts that showed we were all together helped, and we’d sit at the front where the cameras could see us and the lawmakers could see us. We also drove thousands of calls to lawmakers around the state, and we’d do targeted calls to volunteers asking if they knew community leaders, like their mayor or a pastor, who would be willing to make a call. That helped.
You’ve got young kids and a full-time job. How do you find time for what seems like a full-time volunteer gig?
It has been tough. I do a lot of conference calls from my car on my lunch break and conference calls after the kids are in bed. A lot of weekend work. I also have a great team of other volunteer leaders who help do all of this. We’ve got a pretty sophisticated leadership structure.
There were a number of political candidates in Arkansas who were affiliated with Moms Demand Action who won in 2018. Do you see that as an ongoing trend?
On the presidential trail already so many of the Democratic hopefuls are talking about gun sense all the time. That’s totally new. I really hope we’ll have some Republicans apply for the gun sense candidate distinction next election cycle in Arkansas.
When are you going to run for office?
People keep asking me that. I have really great representatives right now. So, I don’t know. We’ll see.
What’s next on your calendar?
Our big Wear Orange event is coming up June 7-9. A young woman named Hadiya Pendleton was shot in Chicago when she was 15, and her friends started this Wear Orange campaign to remind people about gun violence. We’re going to have 10 events across the state. You can find out more at wearorange.org or by going to facebook.com/MomsDemandActionAR.
— Lindsey Millar
Name: Eve Jorgensen
Job: GIS technician at Central Arkansas Water
Volunteer jobs: Chapter leader for Arkansas Moms Demand Action, MLK Reads volunteer tutor
Hobbies: Reading, tweeting and thrifting