June 1, 2022 By Czarinna Andres
As many as 100 people turned out at Lou Lodati Park Tuesday evening for a candlelight vigil to pay respect to the victims of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and to call on federal legislators to pass gun laws that would make it safer for children and adults alike.
The rally and vigil–organized by Councilmember Julie Won and the Sunnyside Woodside Action Group—drew parents, teachers and students who spoke about the unnecessary deaths that have taken place at schools across the country in recent decades.
Some parents discussed their fears of dropping off their children at school each day, anxious that their children are at risk of gun violence. They called on the federal government to take action in the face of school tragedies and called on federal legislators to pass H.R. 8.
The bill, which aims to strengthen background check requirements, has passed the House of Representatives and is on its way to the floor of the U.S. senate.
The legislation specifically prohibits firearm transfers between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer or importer first takes possession of the firearm in order to conduct a background check.
Parents were advised to write to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer to advocate for the bill, while children were encouraged to decorate postcards and call on voters they know to mail it to their federal representatives.
A table was set up outside the park along Skillman Avenue with a candle dedicated to each of the victims of last week’s shooting. Signs read: “No more hate! No More Guns!” and “Kids are not your Targets.”
Won, who gave birth to a boy earlier this year, told the crowd that kids should not have to live in fear of gun violence. She also praised the Canadian government for the steps it’s taking in ending gun violence—such as legislation to end the sale of handguns and requiring its residents to turn in their military-style assault weapons.
“Our children should not be made responsible for their own safety by being told to make their bodies small to fit in cubbies, or to hide in closets and under desks to avoid bullets,” Won said. “Parents should not hold fear in their hearts when they drop their children off at school wondering if every drop off may be their last.”
“The work to end gun violence is all of ours,” Won said, “but the power to end it lies in the federal government…and every day our representatives refuse to take action they have blood on their hands.”