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Last weekend, my husband Kevin and I took the el to the Loop to stand in the cold with a candle to support a beleaguered community of Chicago families standing strong for their children, who had fallen to gun violence on Chicago's mean streets.
This past weekend, millions of moms, dads and siblings across America were called to do the same thing, especially in Washington D.C. where thousands of marchers rallied in support of more effective gun control, including residents of Newtown, Conn., which many say catalyzed a revival of the U.S. gun violence debate.
The day after I attended the Chicago Rally for Sensible Gun Laws at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple, I feel terminally numb.
But it has nothing to do with the previous night's frigid temps. Rather, it's the lingering soft glow of a well-attended candlelight vigil, searing itself into my being and the imagery of the groupings of long-grieving families near a makeshift stage at Daley Plaza, patiently waiting to take home one of the dozens of large, wooden crosses that memorialize a child who has fallen victim to the pandemic that is gun violence in Chicago.
But it started as I sat in a back pew in a packed church. That was where I bore witness to a growing movement of gun-concerned Americans who are finding the courage to break their so-called "code of silence" and discuss their personal tragedy out loud to heal themselves and ignite a movement they hoped would launch and grow with people like me, an individual who came out to support them.
So far in my life, I do not own, nor have ever fired a gun. I don't know anyone who owns a gun, and if they do, they haven't told me. I support the Second Amendment rights but am befuddled as to why any normal citizen needs to carry an automatic weapon or possess clips with rounds and rounds to fire.
Neither did I know any victims of gun violence. Now I do. I met them at this vigil for sensible gun laws, and any of them could be me.
Without words, their stories were told by the images of dead children and young adults. The beautiful faces of these victims of gun violence leapt from photo frames and were affixed to the placards their grief-stricken parents clutched.
Still in my head also are the words of activist Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor emeritus of Saint Sabina Church:
"We are not here about gun control or the Second Amendment," he said. "This is about stopping easy access of guns from flowing into our communities. But most importantly, it's about stopping the killing of our babies across this country, not just in Connecticut, but in Chicago, in New York, in Baltimore, in Philly, in San Francisco, all over this country."
In the last five years, he said, in the city of Chicago alone, over 1,200 children and young adults 26 years old and younger, the youngest being only one month old, have died in gun violence.
"Conservatively, 12 times that number, or 14,000 were wounded in gunfire violence, and many have been left with severe disabilities. Tonight, we will read the names of 89 children who have been killed in gun violence in Cook County since the beginning of just this school year," he said.
Gun massacres in Newtown, Aurora, Wisconsin, Arizona … when will it stop? And, where do we start?
How about here, with us as one of the millions of moms and dads who want some NRA: New Reasonable Answers.
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