WASHINGTON: Each time there’s another mass shooting in the United States, Shannon Watts and Dana Loesch take to Twitter on opposite ends of the gun debate.
Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, makes the arguments for stricter gun control in a country with 33,000 gun-related deaths a year.
Loesch, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and a conservative radio host, lays out the case for why Americans need weapons for self-defense.
The two women have become among the most prominent public faces of the gun control debate with hundreds of thousands of followers across the United States.
Local elections can be won or lost on a word from either one of the well-connected activists.
They are masters of social media, even going so far as to “troll” each other, mostly on their Twitter feeds but also sometimes even in person.
In a video on YouTube, Loesch can be seen confronting Watts at a rally asking her “Do you claim to speak for all Moms or just Moms who are for gun control?”
Watts brushes her off and walks away, saying she does not want to engage with Loesch because she has been “so insulting to me online.”
Watts has dismissed Loesch on Twitter as a “paid NRA shill” and accused her of using “racist, bigoted and violent rhetoric.”
Loesch has repeatedly struck back at Watts on her own Twitter account, @DLoesch, which has more than 700,000 followers and where she touts her devotion to God, family and guns.
Tattoed on her forearm is “Ephesians,” a reference to the New Testament verse urging Christians to don the “armor of God” to fight evil.
‘Hands Off My Gun’
“I’m a Mom,” the 39-year-old Loesch says in an ad for the NRA. “And just like millions of other women that’s why I own guns.
“We’re responsible, we’re law-abiding and we’re everything that makes America strong,” she says.
The cover of her book “Hands Off My Gun: Defeating the Plot to Disarm America” features Loesch in a tight red dress and high heels holding a rifle.
Last month, Loesch interviewed Vice President Mike Pence for her nationally syndicated radio program, “The Dana Show.”
“I’m a fan,” Pence told her. “Thanks for your great voice all across America.”
Watts, who is in her mid 40s, was a public relations executive for Fortune 500 companies before putting her career aside to raise five children in Indiana.
Her life changed on December 14, 2012.
That was the day when 20 children aged six and seven years old were shot dead by a mentally unbalanced young man at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Spurred to take action, Watts started a Facebook page and her crusade against gun violence has snowballed since then, earning her the nickname the “NRA’s worst nightmare”
Five years later, her Moms Demand Action page on Facebook has more than 560,000 followers and her Twitter account @shannonrwatts more than 115,000.
“Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America” now claims to have chapters in all 50 states.
Its members, clad in trademark red T-shirts, are regularly seen at city hall and outside state legislatures putting pressure on lawmakers.
The group has significant funding from its association with “Everytown for Gun Safety,” the gun control group led by billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
For all their differences, the two women claim to have something in common.
Both have received numerous death threats.