Remembrance Inspires A Call To Action

Family members of those killed 12/14, along with elected officials, faith leaders, and other community members, will join together in a day of remembrance and a call to action on Friday, June 14. They will gather at Edmond Town Hall to read the names of victims of gun violence and urge their representatives in Congress to support legislation that would require comprehensive background checks.

After a moment of silence at 9:30 am, there will be a rally and press conference to include Newtown survivors, Governor Dannel P. Malloy, and First Selectman Pat Llodra.

In addition, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) will officially launch its “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence” tour from Newtown. The bus tour will go to 25 states over a period of 100 days. At each stop, gun violence survivors, their families, and concerned community members will rally in support of gun violence prevention efforts and urge their representatives in Washington to support background checks that will reduce gun violence.

Hartford Major Pedro E. Segarra, a member of the coalition, will be part of the remembrance event at Edmond Town Hall. He is expected to be joined by Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, Southbury First Selectman Ed Edelson, and Weston First Selectman Gayle Weinstein.

A number of gun violence survivors, in addition to the elected officials and invited guests already mentioned, will read the names of gun violence victims following Friday’s moment of silence and press conference, said a representative from MAIG. The names will represent a sampling of individual Americans killed with guns, derived from public news reports and the community of gun violence survivors that work with MAIG. Every state in the United States will be represented during the reading of names.


“No More Names”

Every day, points out MAIG, 33 Americans are murdered with guns in this country. In April, a minority of US senators voted to block bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey that would have helped keep guns out of the hands of criminals by requiring background checks for commercial gun sales. Recent independent polls have found that more than 90 percent of Americans support background checks for all gun sales.

These are key points being focused on by MAIG and the 100-day bus tour that will launch on Friday.

Mark Glaze, the executive director of MAIG; John Feinblatt, the chief policy advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (who is also the co-chair of MAIG); and Erica Lafferty, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook School Principal Dawn Hochsprung, participated in a press call on June 12 to talk about the upcoming tour. Mr Feinblatt at one point said he and others preparing to go on the road will “absolutely” continue to make progress and change minds about the necessity of background checks for those purchasing guns.

“Progress works at different speeds on different tracks,” he said. “Senate allies ... continue to talk with their colleagues. We understand that their ears are open. We know for a fact that senators hear about this when they go home on weekends, and on their breaks. I don’t think that’s going to let up any time soon. That’s part of what this tour is about. We think we’ll get there eventually.”

When challenged about the “90 percent” figure the coalition continues to work with, Mr Glaze explained that the 90 percent figure was an answer to a polling question “basically on the strongest possible legislation we might have passed: Do you believe every gun buyer should have a background check, regardless of where they bought a gun?’

“Manchin-Toomey [an amendment to the gun-control package, which would have required background checks on sales at gun shows] would have lowered that, to guns only at a commercial setting,” said Mr Glaze. The amendment was defeated 54-46, six votes short of the required 60-vote threshold.

Ms Lafferty, like the others, is not ready to give up on gun control including background checks.

“I definitely have been trying to contact senators, primarily when I was still in DC back in April,” she said Wednesday morning. “Since I returned from the NRA convention in May, I haven’t been doing much.” Ms Lafferty will be married in three and a half weeks, and has taken time to focus, temporarily, on those plans. She does expect, she said, “to jump back into the game after the wedding. I will put pressure back on the senators.”

Ms Lafferty spoke of her feelings of the past eight weeks, the time since the gun control background check amendment was voted down.

“I feel, every single morning when I wake up, just as disgusted with the April 17 vote as I did sitting in the gallery that day,” she said. “That feeling is not going to go away until a common sense legislation is passed.”

Ms Lafferty will be happy when background checks are required for commercial gun sales, but will be even happier when every sale of a gun follows a background check.

“I’m not going to give up until that number — 33, the number of people a day killed by guns — 33 families a day should not have to live with the feeling that I live with every single day,” she said.

A few minutes later, Mr Glaze offered a look at the purpose of the upcoming tour.

“If you look at the questions that really matter – background check, should suspects be allowed to walk into licensed dealer and buy a gun, should the attorney general have the power to stop that sale, high capacity magazines — support for those proposals remains very high,” Mr Glaze said in response to a later question during the call. “Universal background checks remain in the high 80s. You’ll see fluctuations depending on the polls, and events … but the country reached a tipping point — Tucson, Aurora, Oak Creek, and then Newtown. The fact that people’s support and attention remains so high is extraordinary.

“Part of the purpose of the tour is to channel the outrage that people have right now in a way that is useful.”

There will be a running ticker at the town hall on Friday, which will tick each time another gun violence victim is reported.

The remembrance event will take place outdoors, weather permitting. Plans call for the event to be in the rear parking lot of the historic building at 45 Main Street. Organizers have the building’s gymnasium reserved as a backup location if needed.

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