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In Texas, Moms Demand Action got more than 20,000 new supporters after Uvalde

A sign reading "Protect Kids Not Guns" sits on a chair at a vigil for victims of recent mass shootings in Sunrise, Fla. The vigil was held by Moms Demand Action, to mourn victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas.
SUNRISE, FLORIDA - MAY 28: A sign rests on a chair during a vigil for victims of recent mass shootings at the Sunrise Amphitheater on May 28, 2022 in Sunrise, Florida. Moms Demand Action, a national organization that works to prevent gun violence, held the vigil to mourn the victims of the mass shootings in Buffalo, NY, and Uvalde, TX. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, has revived interest in preventing such senseless violence — and in Texas, that impulse is translating into a rush of new supporters and volunteers for the state's Moms Demand Action chapter.

"Since Uvalde, we've had well over 20,000 people become supporters of our movement and at least a dozen people wanting to start local chapters of their own in areas that don't already have one," Liz Hanks who leads the Texas chapter, told NPR in an email.

Interest in reducing gun violence is peaking, and it extends far beyond Texas. People are flocking to support March for Our Lives, the movement founded by survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in 2018.

And on Sunday, a bipartisan group of senators said they had reached a deal on a package of safety and gun-related measuresin response to the Uvalde shooting.

Gun control backers see a 'cycle of outrage'

Advocates have seen similar spikes before, driven by public horror at how easy it is for a shooter to obtain powerful guns and use them to kill children and other innocents. But in past years, calls for even marginal gun controls have failed to materialize into new federal laws.

Daud Mumin, co-chair of March For Our Lives' board of directors, told NPR that the group is seeing a surge in interest, donations, and volunteers.

"We're grateful that people are mobilizing, but we are also hopeful that we can move past this cycle of outrage and quickly pass common sense gun safety regulation that the vast majority of Americans want," Mumin said.

In Texas, Hanks says she's people are joining the Moms Demand Action chapter from across the political spectrum, including moderates, conservatives, and people who own guns.

"This massacre of children has been the straw that broke their back to reach out and seek change," she said. "Several women have walked up to me after events in Houston and Austin and have just started crying and saying they want to help through their tears."

Will this time be different?

After other mass shootings, the most tangible effects on the U.S. gun industry have been overwhelmingly positive: consumers rush to buy rifles, large-capacity magazines and ammunition, partly out of concern that such products might become illegal. Since Uvalde, for instance, gun companies' stocks have soared, and gun stores say they're doing brisk business.

But for advocates like Hanks who fight gun violence, this time feels different.

"My own historically Republican mother told me she looked up her senators and called them for the first time in her life," Hanks said. "My father, who is very conservative, thinks we need more background checks, to raise the age to buy a gun, and to pass a red flag law. If they reach out to their leaders, it makes me hopeful that they can drown out the extremist voices dominating this conversation."

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