Sandy Hook cyclists, year three, in Morristown: ‘Second Amendment does not trump right to live’

Team 26 cyclists approach Morristown town hall. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Team 26 cyclists approach Morristown town hall. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Team 26 rolls into Morristown. Photo by Bill Lescohier
Team 26 rolls into Morristown. Photo by Bill Lescohier

In what is becoming a chilly rite of spring, cyclists from Newtown, CT, stopped in Morristown on Sunday en route to the nation’s capital, where for the third straight year they will implore Congress to pass gun safety laws to prevent a repeat of the 2012 Sandy Hook School massacre.

Team 26 leader Monte Frank speaks in Morristown, on the way to Washington. Photo by Bill Lescohier
Team 26 leader Monte Frank speaks in Morristown, on the way to Washington. Photo by Bill Lescohier

“All lives matter. And the Second Amendment does not trump the right to live. Enough is enough,” Monte Frank said on the steps of Morristown town hall.

Frank leads Team 26, cyclists representing each of the first-graders and educators shot dead by a deranged 20-year-old gunman on Dec. 14, 2012.

Two riders have children who attended Sandy Hook; two more lost loved ones in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. The group left Newtown on Saturday, and is scheduled to complete its 400-mile journey on Tuesday.

“We ride to make sure the shootings of 12/14 at the Sandy Hook School don’t fade into the national memory,” Frank told a sparse crowd, on a blustery Palm Sunday with biting winds that wrought havoc with printed speeches.

The rally was sponsored by Moms Demand Action, the New Jersey chapter of the Million Moms March, Blue Wave NJ, and the town of Morristown. The organizations are urging citizens to prod legislators to enact several measures:

State Bills

S2785 – Requires criminal history record background check for rifle and shotgun purchases. Introduced in the Senate and referred to the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee on March 9, 2015.  No action has been taken by that Committee.

A4218/  S2786 — Revises certain laws concerning domestic violence and firearms. These bills were introduced on Feb. 23, 2015, (Assembly) and March 9, 2015, (Senate) and referred to their respective Law and Public Safety committees.  This bill is in its early stages.  Rally organizers say New Jersey has good laws regarding domestic violence and guns; this bill would close some loopholes.

Federal Bills

H.R. 1217 — On March 3, 2015, Reps. Peter King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) re-introduced this bill to expand background checks to all online and gun show sales. The bill was introduced with four Republican and four Democratic co-sponsors.  The chief sponsors intend to add co-sponsors on a one- Republican-for-one-Democrat basis for now. Rally organizers are asking citizens to encourage their congressional representatives to co-sponsor the measure.

Rally organizers also are promoting a petition called FINISH THE JOB, to urge Congress to require background checks for all gun sales.

Every three hours, someone dies from gun violence in America, said Mayor Tim Dougherty, who received an autographed Team 26 jersey from Frank as thanks for his support.

“We hope that one day, our elected officials from all across this country will wake up, and understand that they represent something that should never have happened in these United States,” the Mayor told listeners.

Maura Sherlach Schwartz speaks in Morristown for the second year. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Maura Sherlach Schwartz speaks in Morristown for the second year. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Maura Sherlach Schwartz, a New Jersey resident who lost her mother, Sandy Hook school psychologist Mary Scherlach, thanked the cyclists and public for helping her heal from the tragedy. She also has established Mary’s Fund in her mother’s honor, to aid children with mental and physical disabilities.

Without such efforts, Schwartz said, there would be despair.

“It is so easy to get angry, and frustrated in both the events of that day, and what has happened since,” she said.

“We have seen so much happen in our country, and yet still, no national laws for gun safety. It is so easy to get discouraged, to wallow in that disappointments, to give up hope that our country will ever enact proper legislation to protect its innocent citizens.”

But change takes time, and the cyclists epitomize perseverance, Schwartz said. “There is no quitting, there is no abandoning their teammates. There is only the goal of seeing this journey through to its completion.”

Please click icon below for captions.

Mayor Tim Dougherty with jersey presented by Team 26 leader Monte Frank. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor Tim Dougherty with jersey presented by Team 26 leader Monte Frank. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Ninety-one percent of Americans, including families that own guns, want a background check conducted for every gun sale, according to Frank.

“And yet, Congress has failed to act. We ride to press Congress to put politics aside, and finish the job started by James Brady, a Republican, and White House press secretary under Ronald Reagan,” he said, urging passage of the bi-partisan Thompson-King bill introduced this month.

Gun trafficking should be a federal crime, he added, and high-capacity magazines should be banned.

Team 26 also wants New Jersey and Connecticut to pass pending bills to restrict firearms when temporary restraining orders are issued in domestic violence cases. The presence of firearms in domestic violence situations increases the risk of homicide by 500 percent for women, while only 7 percent have successfully used a gun for self-defense, Frank said.

Morristown Council President Rebecca Feldman introduces Team 26 leader Monte Frank for the third year. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Morristown Council President Rebecca Feldman introduces Team 26 leader Monte Frank for the third year. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

None of these changes, he said, would affect hunters or sportsmen.

“Let’s be silent no more. Let’s tell Washington that 30,000 gun deaths a year is unacceptable. That every life matters, and every single gun death is one too many,” Frank said.

“Let’s make sure that Congress understands that if we really care about our children, that over 100 school shootings since Sandy Hook is unacceptable. Enough is enough. Let’s all ride together for a safer America.”

Praising the cyclists as “noble patriots, standing up to the gun violence in America,” Morristown Council President Rebecca Feldman quoted Thomas Paine, whose statue stands in Morristown: “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Frank chose an icon of more recent vintage.

“Nelson Mandela said it always seems impossible, until it’s done,” he said. “And if we keep persevering, keep pedaling, and keep working together, it will get done.”

PRIOR COVERAGE:

Video: Daughter of Newtown victim calls for gun reforms as Team 26 stops in Morristown

Video: Team 26 rolls through Morristown, en route from Newtown to DC, with gun control message

Video: Newtown comes to Morristown for the ‘Sandy Hook Promise’

Video: ‘My Beautiful Town’ sung in Morristown to honor Newtown victims

Team 26 poses with Maura Sherlach Schwartz, Mayor Tim Dougherty and Council President Rebecca Feldman. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Team 26 poses with Maura Sherlach Schwartz, Mayor Tim Dougherty and Council President Rebecca Feldman. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Team 26 cyclists approach Morristown town hall. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Team 26 cyclists approach Morristown town hall. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Spectators welcome Team 26 to Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Spectators welcome Team 26 to Morristown. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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12 COMMENTS

  1. interesting that he used thomas paine during his fiction filled speech in an attempt to gain gun control followers…”Arms discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property…Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” (Thomas Paine, Thoughts On Defensive War, 1775)”…i wonder if he knew that thomas paine was in no uncertain terms, FOR gun ownership. second, why in the world would you stop in NJ to promote gun control. we have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the country already…and we don’t like it.

  2. These people are useless. They Bike protest is useless. All the constitutional scholars on this website are complete ignorant and don’t know what they are talking about. America wants less gun laws, not more. There have been less gun control since Newtown, not more. In Baltimore Crime is out of control and they now have the most restrictive gun laws. Chicago has more restrictive gun laws. Yet in NH, we have almost no gun laws and the lowest murder rate in the country. More Guns equals less crime. Gun laws never affect criminals. Criminals don’t abide by gun laws. The newtown bike morons need to get a life

  3. jeffy, I hate to tell you this “WELL REGULATED” MEANT trained and drilled in the proper use of THEIR own weapons of the day. THEY being any able-bodied male 16 to 45 years of age. THE MILITIAS of the day. The Forefathers really did not want a standing Army as we have today. the right to arm oneself is the right of any LAWABIDING CITIZEN of THE REPUBLIC as stated in the debates of our forefathers. And The SECOND AMENDMENT.

  4. I don’t think Bloomberg is running for anything, Sp60. He’s way too old. He is also back to running his company.

    Jeffrey: Militias had to be raised every time England went to war. They were the only tool for national defense, from the days of the crown through the Revolutionary War, when we employed the same tradition. The whole point was to deprive a king of a standing army. The militias also never took their arms home. They kept them in an arms stand.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1995/sep/21/to-keep-and-bear-arms/

  5. Another sparsely attended publicity event put on by Little Napoleon and his minions. Apparently the writer hasn’t learned that most of the numbers spouted by these anti-rights activists have been exposed as blatant lies even by liberal fact checkers.

    The Second Amendment has never trumped the right to live, in fact, the 2A is the reason many people are still alive. By conservative estimates, firearms are used to prevent 800,000 crimes annually. How many would have been killed? We will never know, but as the demanding moms like to say, ‘if it saves just one life’.

  6. The language of the time used a mechanism called the preamble, which is what the first two phrases of the 2nd Amendment actually are. “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” That’s the preamble. Its purpose is to place what follows into the proper context, but we have to examine the words before we can establish their proper context.

    Observance of the rules of war and accountability were heavily valued in the colonial era. Renegade bands of armed men who answered to no leader of conscience were not to be encouraged or allowed. The right to form a militia depended upon having leaders of conscience who would impose strict rules of behavior and warfare on its members. Hence the term “well-regulated.” The lawful right to form militias is an admonition to the federal government that it is not the only body that is capable of standing an army, but with that right comes the responsibility to act lawfully. The right was conferred for the sole purpose of resisting tyranny and discouraging our national government from becoming despotic — no other entity but our national government could threaten the freedom of the nation. External threats would be met by the standing army of the nation. Let me say that again — militias were never intended to be used for national defense. Our government passed laws enabling it to create a standing army and navy BEFORE it declared its own independence form England. Militias were intended to empower citizens to rise up against its own government should it ever be required. There is your explanation of the preamble. Let’s forge ahead…

    “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It would be impossible for a disarmed populace to stand as an army against the federal government. The lawful right to assemble a militia can only exist if the people who will constitute that militia are armed. That means the public — the people — of this country, when called upon to unseat a despotic government, can immediately take up arms and spring into action. The immediate requirement is demonstrated by the “keep and bear” phrase. It doesn’t say “have access to arms.” It says “keep and bear.” That means in your home (keep) and carry (bear) on your person. There shouldn’t be too much confusion about that language.

    One last consideration — the 3rd Amendment was written in response to the Quartering Act of 1774 which required colonists to house British troops on demand. How could a citizen possibly refuse to allow soldiers to take up residence in his home if he were not equally armed as the soldier himself? Simply, he could not. The 2nd Amendment guaranteed that our government could never be guilty of the transgressions perpetrated by a despot king.

    In summary — the militia is a force to be convened in response to a tyrannical government, not in defense of the nation. Laws were passed for national defense before the 2nd Amendment was ever written and it was written in spite of those laws, denoting its uniqueness in purpose. Such a militia could not possibly exist if the people who were to fill its ranks were not properly armed. The further implication there is that the people are to be armed in similar fashion to the standing army, so as to be able to overthrow the despotic government. There is no requirement for service, but willing service is an implied responsibility to ensure the balance of power remains enough to discourage federal despotism.

    So, the very notion of governments (local, state, or federal) “regulating” a militia is absolute lunacy on its face. Who would be doing the regulating? The very government the right was intend to hold in check? No. That stands in contravention to the very purpose of being able to assemble a militia of the people to stand in defense of their freedoms against their own government. This is how it was done, why it still applies today. and why it will always apply — our freedoms were not granted by our government. Our government was tasked with protecting freedoms and should it fail, our people are to be so equipped that governmental protection of those freedoms is not necessary. Anyone who tells you any different is an enemy of freedom.
    None of our children would have been susceptible to these attacks like sandy hook if the power that rightly rests with the individual and his or her community had not been usurped by an inept and often corrupt federal government.

  7. As usual those who are not willing to accept that the only reason our children are at risk is a government that legislated away the ability to properly protect them, want us to compound the errors of that legislation with more feel safe legislation.
    The truth is our children are in danger because of apathy on our part. When our grandparents and parents let the federal government violate the constitution and we allowed that same federal government to further overstep it’s authority by disarming those they legally have no authority over in areas they legally have authority to control.
    You can say that this is what people wanted but, then I will say that the constitution does not allow infringement of our essential rights by even a majority for the very simple reason that it would allow a malignant majority to overwhelm an innocent minority. Next I would point out the number of times that armed people at the right place at the time, have stopped sleazebags like lanza from harming innocent unarmed POTENTIAL VICTIMS.
    Finally I would treat you to a simple explanation of what the second amendment means and why nearly every child that has been killed is on the heads of those who legislated away their safeguards and all who allowed them to.
    I will in fact post that third Item separately so wait and respond to that.

  8. Typical reframing of reality to suit the agenda.

    The right guaranteed by the Second Amendment ISSUES from the right to life. They are inseparable.

    Ipso facto, my right to self-defense equals your right to life.

    Get used to it.

  9. What a ridiculous waste of time and effort.

    If they were riding to support arming school administrators, or provide armed security, that would be different. Those things could actually prevent another Sandy Hook from happening.

    Instead they are simply generating a little bit of news hype for a billionaire (Mssr. Bloomberg) who is using gun control to fuel his political ambitions.

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