RELEASE: Advocates for Stronger Gun Laws Hail Historic Advance of Gun Bill
In First 22 Hours 5,572 Names of People Killed with Guns Read By Families of Victims and Survivors of Gun Violence, Advocates to Continue Reading Through Friday
Washington, D.C.— In an effort to demand congressional action on gun legislation, families of victims and survivors of gun violence gathered at 1:00 p.m. yesterday, April 10, 2013, to begin reading the names of the more than 3,300 men, women, and children who have been killed by guns since the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last December. They continued to read the names overnight and will persist until the Senate begins recess on Friday.
The action began as a response to Republican senators who were threatening to not even allow debate or a vote on background checks, despite the fact that over 90 percent of Americans support a universal-background-check measure. After the first 22 hours of action by advocates, the Senate voted 68 to 31 to allow debate on legislation to address gun violence to proceed.
“How many more brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, teachers and students, and friends and neighbors will our nation’s leaders allow to be senselessly murdered before taking action?” said Arkadi Gerney, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and one of the organizers behind the event. “Enacting common-sense measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals is not a Democratic priority or a Republican priority. It’s an American priority. And Americans cannot afford to wait another day. The time to demand action is now. And, today’s Senate vote confirms that the American voices who demand action now have a chance to be heard.”
Thirty-five individuals, most of whom were victims or family members of victims, took turns reading the names of those killed throughout the night. Among the readers were Jillian Soto, whose sister Vicki Soto died shielding her students at Sandy Hook Elementary School; Emily Nottingham, the mother of former Rep. Gabby Giffords’ (D-AZ) staffer Gabe Zimmerman who was shot and killed in Tucson, Arizona, in the attack on Rep. Giffords life; Steve Barton, survivor of the Aurora, Colorado shooting; and Lori Haas, whose daughter survived the Virginia Tech shooting. Chief Jim Johnson, police chief of Baltimore County, Maryland, and Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), who represents Newtown, also participated in the reading of names.
It took over 12 hours to read the names of the more than 3,300 individuals who have been killed by guns since the Newtown shooting. After 12 hours the family members of victims and survivors continued their demonstration and began reading the names again. It would take 109 hours—or four and a half days—of continuous reading to read the names of each of the 30,000 Americans killed by guns in one year.
The demonstration was organized by gun-violence-prevention advocates from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Coalition To Stop Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, chapters of Million Mom March, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Newtown Action Alliance, Project to End Gun Violence, and Protest Easy Guns.
For more information, please contact Katie Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sojourners and PICO National Network have organized clergy to continue the vigil—and continue reading the names—today in a field of more than 3,300 grave makers, including crosses, stars of David, and other religious symbols, on the National Mall.
24-hour vigil commemorating the 3,300 lives lost to gun violence since Newtown and repeating the call on Congress to act
Rev. Matt Crebbin, Senior Pastor, Newtown Congregational Church
Rabbi Shaul Praver, Congregation Adath Israel, Newtown, CT
Rev. Michael McBride, Director, Lifelines to Healing, PICO National Network
Rev. Jim Wallis, President and CEO, Sojourners
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Founder and Chairman, Sikh Council on Religion & Education
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism Bishop Noel Jones, City of Refuge Church, Los Angeles
The National Mall
Between 13th and 14th Street NW
Vigil begins at 11:30am
For more information about the vigil, please contact Shannon Craig Straw at email@example.com.