Marian Harris ’62: Advocates for Gun Control

photo of Marian Harris in Turkey

Marian Harris

The slew of mass shootings from Aurora to Newtown has Marian Harris ’62 angry. She works for the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about and encouraging legislation to reduce gun violence.

At Mount Holyoke, a career in political activism wasn’t on Harris’ radar. She majored in physiology and went into education. In 1974, she was teaching pre-school when a student’s mother asked her to help with a political campaign. Harris gave it a try and was soon hooked on the campaign game. She had never wanted to run for office herself; “behind the scenes was what I liked,” she says. But in 2006, she wound up on the ballot as a “placeholder” when no other Democrat volunteered to run in the heavily Republican district. Soon the party chairman stopped looking for a replacement and Harris was the candidate, running to represent the nineteenth district in the Ohio House of Representatives. She was defeated, but ran again in 2008 and won.

In 2010, Harris lost her seat. Now, she does “what needs to be done” at the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. Harris initially joined the organization because they were hiring, but after she learned the facts about gun violence, talked to survivors, and watched the gun death count rise, gun control has become her issue.

On the job, she supervises a campaign to hand out “No Guns Allowed” placards to businesses, updates the organization’s Facebook page, and partnered with Moms Demand Action to organize a statewide rally. She educates legislators and the public, speaking about gun violence to community organizations, religious groups, and anyone else who will listen.

Harris describes her work as frustrating as well as exciting, but doesn’t let the setbacks stop her. “When you read about another child shot or you think about Newtown…well, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”

—By Olivia Lammel ’14

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5 responses to “Marian Harris ’62: Advocates for Gun Control”

  1. Mary says:

    Growing up we lived in a house without guns. In fact we never locked our house or car. Several years later my mother’s house was broken into twice. Without a gun in the house she was completely vulnerable. Criminals ALWAYS have or can get guns. The answer is not taking away gun rights from the general population but protecting the right to own a gun. In schools principals and teachers should be trained, if they so desire, to use a firearm if necessary so that they can protect the children. Schools are often targets for shootings precisely because they are gun-free zones.

  2. Tiffany says:

    More people are killed by hammers than guns. Inanimate objects are not dangerous, people are dangerous. The most dangerous people are the sixties radicals like Ms. Harris who use children as their excuse to chip away at our Bill of Rights.

    • Jane Wheeler says:

      Lady, you are a nut case! I hope that none of your children or grandchildren is ever hurt by the guns you apparently believe should be ubiquitous. Our Bill of Rights is not endangered but our population certainly is.

      • Tiffany says:

        Jane Wheeler:

        If you insist upon name calling, nutcase is one word, not two.

        Your hypothetical about harm coming to my children or grandchildren is in poor taste. They are at a far greater risk of being hurt by the political and historical ignorance of people like you who believe our Bill of Rights is not under attack.

        Do you really think our population is endangered by guns? Let me enlighten you with some facts. According to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm), the leading causes and numbers of American death are as follows:
        Heart disease: 597,689
        Cancer: 574,743
        Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 138,080
        Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 129,476
        Accidents (unintentional injuries): 120,859
        Alzheimer’s disease: 83,494
        Diabetes: 69,071
        Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,476
        Influenza and Pneumonia: 50,097
        Intentional self-harm (suicide): 38,364

  3. Linda Sturtevant says:

    We need more women like Marian Harris! Keep up the good work!

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