A big crowd turned out on Valentine’s Night in Morristown to mark the two-month anniversary of the Newtown massacre and demand stricter gun controls.
Morristown Mayor Tim Dougherty came with a letter signed by 33 New Jersey mayors, asking Gov. Christie to take a harder line supporting federal legislation to require criminal background checks for all gun sales and curb access to assault weapons and large ammunition magazines.
“If you need an assault weapon to hunt a deer, maybe hunting isn’t your sport. Maybe you ought to take up golf,” said State Sen. Barbara Buono, Democratic candidate for Governor.
Laughter rippled across the Morristown Green, where people brandished signs and wore home-made paper hearts bearing the names of young shooting victims.
After Thursday’s rally, organizers chided the Governor to do more to prod lawmakers.
“I believe he’ll do what he needs to do to protect his kids,” said Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman, co-founder of the Morris Area Committee to Reduce Gun Violence, which organized the gathering.
“Gov. Chris Christie has four kids,” added Jamie Bedrin of the New Jersey chapter of One Million Moms for Gun Control. “And I know that they mean a lot to him. And I want to see him take action to protect his kids, and all of the children in the state.”
Photos by Bill Lescohier. Please click icon below for captions.
The Morristown committee formed last month in response to the killing of 26 pupils and staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, by a deranged 20-year-old last December.
“I’ve spent years in politics in one way or another, as an Independent, and now I look back when Newtown happened and think ‘what have I been doing for the last 10 years?’” said Rebecca Feldman. “The most important thing is that we put politics aside and come up with sensible ways to regulate guns so that fewer people are killed, and fewer children are at risk every day.”
From the podium, the Rev. Alison Miller of the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship recounted the terror of having a burglar aim a gun at her head when she was 4 years old.
The director of the pediatrics emergency room at Morristown Medical Center, Dr. Michael Gerardi, described treating gunshot wounds that he said should be seen only on battlefields.
“Say a prayer tonight, and in the morning, write a letter to your congressman,[and] your senator, and let’s do something about reducing gun violence,” said Pastor Sidney Williams Jr. of Morristown’s Bethel AME Church.
Members of the Bethel AME Youth Choir and the Harmonium Choral Society and Neighborhood House Combined Choirs sang, and the event concluded at dusk with a showing of lit candles.
The turnout thrilled Jamie Bedrin of One Million Moms, who vowed to keep fighting the powerful National Rifle Association.
“We are not going to back down,” Jamie said. “We will approach this in a peaceful and intelligent manner. But enough is enough. I don’t know how many times we have to say it: How many children have to die? Really. How many, before we take a stand?”
Photos by Scott Schlosser. Please click icon below for captions: