Jr NAA Hosts ‘Roundtable Discussion’ And Vigil For Pittsburgh Victims
A week after the Junior Newtown Action Alliance (Jr NAA) hosted a “Roundtable Discussion on Gun Violence” at C.H. Booth Library on October 23, it worked with the Newtown Action Alliance (NAA) to organize an October 30 vigil for gun violence victims of a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh three days earlier.
For the Roundtable Discussion, Congressman Mike Thompson (Calif.-5) and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (Conn.-5), the chair and vice chair of the US House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, spoke with students about gun violence prevention efforts, according to Jr NAA Co-Chair Tommy Murray after the event.
Tommy explained the Roundtable Discussion was held in support of the March For Our Lives #TurnOutTuesday effort, which encourages electing “morally just leaders who will help us end gun violence in the US,” according to marchforourlives.com.
“We’ve traveled to [Washington, DC] for the last six years, and congressional members who take money from the NRA refuse to pass any commonsense gun laws to keep us safe,” Tommy said in an e-mail on October 29. “Since Congress won’t listen, we have to change Congress, and we can only do that if we get out and vote. Many of us can’t vote yet, but we can participate in actions such as #TurnoutTuesday to encourage others to vote on November 6. This election is very consequential.”
Tommy said he hopes students and other community members will be engaged and encouraged to vote “to make gun violence a priority by getting out to vote on Election Day.” The event at C.H. Booth Library, Tommy said, was a success because there was a decent crowd of students, teachers, and parents present to discuss gun violence prevention. Also at the event, Jr NAA member Jordan Gomes shared a recently drafted Students’ Bill of Rights for Safer Communities, created by students from across the country at an October 20 to 21 Student Gun Violence Summit in Washington, DC.
“Here in Newtown, we know all too well the pain that gun violence causes a community,” Rep Esty said in a statement following the event. “We are raising a generation of students who have never known a world where they didn’t have to fear gun violence finding its way into their schools. The students I met with in Newtown are front and center, changing the conversation about guns in America. They have said ‘enough’ to the idea that we are powerless to stop the gun violence epidemic. I am inspired by the students from across the United States who are speaking out and [talking], and I think about them every day when I work with my colleagues in Congress for a safer nation for all our children. I am so proud to stand with these extraordinary young people to help make sure that this is the last mass shooting generation.”
Following the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn., where 11 people were shot on October 27, the NAA and Jr NAA announced the Newtown Vigil to #StandwithPittsburgh in front of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) on Mile Hill Road.
An announcement for the vigil from the NAA read in part, “The Tree of Life synagogue shooting was an act of domestic terrorism. This hate crime was the second mass shooting incident in a house of worship since the Las Vegas shooting and the 295th mass shooting incident in America since January 1, 2018. Easy access to weapons of war made it easy for an anti-Semitic, racist gunman filled with rage and hate to kill 11 innocent people and wound six others in a short period of time. Four police officers were shot trying to stop one gunman armed with an AR-15.”
About two dozen supporters, many holding signs, drew the attention of motorists driving past — some tooting their horns or shouting support from open windows as they passed.
Several of the participants used huge pieces of chalk to sketch out a message on the roadway between Queen Street and the NSSF facility entrance that read “Vote Gun Sense.”
Organizers told The Newtown Bee they expected to be on site for about an hour. The group was visited briefly by a local police officer who reminded the group to stay safely off the roadway while remaining in the lawful right of way to carry out their peaceful gathering.
Following the vigil, NSSF shared a statement about the Pittsburgh shooting: “We are truly saddened by and our hearts go out to victims and their families, all the congregants of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, as well as the brave and dedicated law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who responded to the scene of this heinous and unspeakably cruel hate crime. On behalf of the members of our industry, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has long advocated for effective solutions to prevent unauthorized access to firearms by criminals, the dangerously mentally ill, children, and others who cannot be trusted to handle firearms in a safe and responsible manner. The firearms industry welcomes participation in the national conversation to make our communities and our schools safer. We will continue to lead and participate in finding and enhancing practical solutions that protect lives and preserve the rights of law-abiding Americans.”
Other recent and upcoming efforts by the Jr NAA include supporting a Trick or Vote initiative on Halloween to encourage Americans to vote on November 6 and co-sponsoring the Sixth Annual National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence on December 5, from 7 pm to 9 pm, at St Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC. More information about the December 5 vigil is available on the Newtown Foundation’s website, newtownfoundation.org/national-vigil-for-all-victims-of-gun-violence.