About the Coalition
The MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence was conceived shortly after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in December 2012 as a way to bring together stakeholders from across the Commonwealth to work to address all forms of gun violence. The original founding members (Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action; Stop Handgun Violence; and GVP activist Angus McQuilken) quickly gathered approximately 15 additional organizations, including Cindy Diggs of Peace Boston, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Jewish Community Relations Council, League of Women Voters of MA, Moms Demand Action, Lipstick, Louis D Brown Peace Institute, the Episcopal Diocese of MA and many diverse faith-based institutions.
The volunteer Coalition members worked together to build a groundswell of organized grassroots energy that galvanized the State Legislature to pass the 2014 Omnibus gun safety bill, a law which among other things expanded background checks to all private gun sales and required for the first time that all crime guns be traced and the trace data aggregated. The Coalition then organized to pass the Extreme Risk Protection Order law in 2018, a critical suicide prevention and mass shooting intervention tool which creates a pathway for family members to temporarily remove guns from those at serious risk of harming themselves or others. Beyond advocating for the passage of this important legislation, the Coalition worked with legislators and public health experts to hold those in power accountable to implement these laws and to push for funding of important programs that support youth opportunity, including Summer Youth jobs programs and the Safe and Secure Youth Initiative that supports violence intervention work across the Commonwealth. The Coalition members also worked to educate the public about gun violence from a public health perspective and to support member organizations working to reduce violence in their communities.
In 2019 the Coalition received a grant from a private foundation to hire its first full-time staff member, Ruth Zakarin, our current and inaugural Executive Director. Our team has since grown and we now have 3 full-time staff members and over 120 member organizations from across the Commonwealth. In this time, the Coalition has also gotten its own 501(c)3 status, created a new vision and mission statement, restructured our leadership team to be more representative of the communities we serve, and gone through a full rebranding and created a new website. The Coalition’s current work is divided into four areas: Education, Legislative Advocacy, Community Organizing and Member Support. Gun violence is a complex problem requiring multi-faceted solutions, so the Coalition is continually growing and evolving to better serve the Commonwealth.