A localized vigil, part of a nationwide day of remembrance, urges a reevaluation of gun sense and safety on a national level
December 14th will mark the 7-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy. The mass shooting took place in Newton, CT in 2012, and resulted in 28 fatalities and two injuries. Since Sandy Hook, there have been a total of 2,314 mass shootings in the US, resulting in 2,615 fatalities and 9,640 injuries.
Over 700,000 Americans have been killed or injured as a result of gun violence since 2012.
In remembrance, a nationwide vigil will be held on Dec. 15 - and community members will gather at The Environmental Center to honor those who lost their lives to gun violence. The local vigil was organized by members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Sarah Douglass, the Events Lead for the Central Oregon Chapter, weighs in on the upcoming vigil and what gun safety means to her.
A: We are a nationwide, non-partisan, grassroots movement of Americans fighting for public safety. We support the Second Amendment and work to pass common sense gun measures such as background checks and closing dangerous loopholes. We encourage a culture of responsible gun ownership. The organization was founded by Shannon Watts, a mother of five, the day after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Q: Do you have personal experience with gun violence?
A: As the gun violence epidemic grows I think there are fewer and fewer people without some type of personal experience. My neighbor was shot and killed while walking her dog two doors down from my house last January. It’s beyond tragic and it’s happening every day. I’m a parent, and I got involved with Moms Demand Action after the Parkland shooting. At that point I had two kids in high school, and I just decided I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and watch any longer. I can’t look my kids in the eyes and tell them they are safe at school. You either decide to be part of the solution or you are part of the problem.
Q: In which ways do you believe existing gun laws should be changed?
A: The solution is multifactorial and involves measures like background checks on all gun sales, red flag laws, secure storage requirements as well public education. My husband is a gun owner. We own guns and keep them securely stored in our home. We believe there is no reason why any responsible gun owner should object to safety measures like background checks.
Q: Why do you believe the gun-related fatality rates are so high throughout the country?
A: There are so many guns, and such a lack of regulation. According to a recent study [conducted by the global Small Arms Survey], there are more than 393 million guns owned by civilians in the United States. That’s enough for every man woman and child to own one and still have 67 million guns left over. Under current federal law unlicensed sellers can sell guns at gun shows, on-line and person-to-person without conducting any background checks on the purchaser. Too many gun owners don’t securely store their firearms (in incidents of gun fire on school grounds, 78% of shooters under the age of 18 obtained the gun from their home or the home of a friend or family member). There’s a proliferation of ghost guns that bypass background checks or other regulations.
Q: What will the vigil entail, and how do localized efforts contribute to national awareness?
A: Our vigil will include music, speakers, survivor testimonies, a tribute video and a short candlelight march downtown. Since the Clackamas Town Center shooting also occurred in December 2012, we honor those victims as well as the hundreds of thousands of others at this event. These localized efforts are the foundations of a nationwide movement. Together, we shine a light on the devastating epidemic of gun violence in our nation and advocate for change until Congress takes meaningful action to reduce gun deaths and injuries in our nation.
The Bend Vigil to #EndGunViolence
Sun., Dec. 15, 4-6pm.
The Environmental Center
16 NW Kansas Ave., Bend.