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Norwalk vigil seeks to inspire change at national level

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) leads the Vigil for Lives Lost, Thursday outside City Hall. There would have been double or triple the number of people during another time of year, Duff said.

Suddenly windy weather prompted organizers to suggest that participants raise lit up cell phones instead of candles.

NORWALK, Conn. — More than 120 people gathered Thursday evening at City Hall to honor lives lost last weekend and inspire energy for change.

“We have had shooting after shooting and we have not had action. We need people to come together to demand that we have action,” said State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), who worked with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to organize the Vigil for Lives Lost. “…I appreciate all of you coming out here tonight and saying enough is enough, that we don’t have to live like this.”

“It looked like the clouds were going to dampen our spirits. Then got as it got windy, I said to our Congressman, those are the winds of change…. we have the winds of change at our back,” State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) said at the close of Thursday’s Vigil for Lives Lost outside Norwalk City Hall.

The vigil came four days after the nation was shocked by back-to-back mass shootings, one in El Paso, Texas, that took 22 lives and another in Dayton, Ohio, that took nine lives. References were made Thursday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a House-passed bills that would toughen background check processes for gun purchases, although some analysts say that neither bill would have prevented either massacre.

President Donald Trump tweeted Monday that “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks,” suggesting that the legislation be paired with immigration revisions.

The Dayton killer was “neutralized” by police just 30 seconds into his rampage, news reports say. Duff noted that it only took 30 seconds for the shooter to kill nine people and injure 27 because he used a high capacity rifle.

“I was stunned and saddened… I had a feeling of really just shaken to my core and feeling like we shouldn’t have to live like this,” Duff said. “… We can do better than that in this country and we must do better than that in this country.”

Neddy Smith performs an original composition Thursday outside Norwalk City Hall in the Vigil for Lost Lives.

The vigil featured Neddy Smith, whose lost a cousin to gun violence a year and a half ago, singing “Children are the future, will the children be protected?” and prayers from Rabbi Ita Paskind. Ethan Smith read the names of the victims and Abbey Clements, a teacher who survived the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, calling the violence “a public health crisis that demands urgent action.”

Abbey Clements speaks Thursday outside Norwalk City Hall.

Clements was just referring to mass shootings but killings in Bridgeport and other cities. There are 100 people killed daily, she said.

“This is not about mental health. It’s not about video games. It’s not about movies. Those are all NRA talking points. This is about easy access to guns,” she said, urging that McConnell call the Senate back into session and take up background checks and a red flag law to allow authorities to temporarily take away the guns of a person considered suicidal or an imminent threat to others.

Her comments were echoed by U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).

“Every other country on this planet has the Internet, has video games, has violence, has mental health issues but no other country dedicates itself to putting firearms into the hands of everyone,” Himes said, congratulating the crowd for making McConnell’s life difficult with “the noise you are making.”

Thursday evening news reports quote McConnell as planning to have gun control measures on the table when Congress reconvenes in September, and specifically mentioning background checks.

Himes referred to other action.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) speaks Thursday outside Norwalk City Hall. Some passing drivers honked in support of the Vigil for Lives Lost.

“Your presence here tonight, it is a spark…. it matters, for the first time in decades, the Congress approved a budget that gave money to the government to study gun violence as a public health problem. That is progress,” Himes said.

“We honor those who have died by demanding action. That’s what we want to do tonight,” Duff said. “There is absolutely no right out there that is absolute. Our courts have always put parameters on every right that we have, and that is true for the second amendment. In CT We have passed some very strict laws and the courts have upheld those laws. If only our congress and other states would follow the lead that Connecticut has paved them, we would then see the same type of reduction of violence and crime that we see in Connecticut.”

The crowd listens Thursday during the Vigil for Lives Lost.

24 comments

Scott Vetare August 9, 2019 at 7:44 am

It’s sad that politicians won’t look at the real issue. Mental health is the problem! Not guns! People kill with cars, knives, bombs and many other weapons. Wake up democratic politician’s and face the real issues! For the record I do believe in stronger background checks but more gun laws only hurt the law abiding citizens. Remember that law breakers don’t follow the law! Just take a look at Chicago, where’s the outage for them!?

April G. August 9, 2019 at 8:36 am

Scott-and the toddler who shoots himself in the face because he got his hands on mom and dad’s gun? How do you explain that? He’s got a mental health problem? Nope. To try to simply blame mental health issues on the gun violence in this county is short-sighted and uninformed. However, our country sure is going to need more mental health funding as more and more people witness these horrific events and need supports in place to help deal with them. So, yeah, your mental health issue is at the wrong end of this problem.

Bryan Meek August 9, 2019 at 9:07 am

I guess inner city violence in Hartford, New Haven, Waterbury, and Bridgeport is ok.

I have to assume this since it happens every day and we never hear a peep from the Senator.

I wonder how well these cities will fare with continued cuts in state aid due to the fact the state is pretty much bankrupt.

It’s August 9th and we still don’t have the Comptrollers monthly report to close out the fiscal year. I’m sure the exudes will be that they are on vacation or something. As if it’s ok to take vacation in place of year end reporting……that’s how most Finance departments in the real world work after all…..

https://www.osc.ct.gov/reports/index.html

From the May report posted July 1 you can clearly see that we needed to collect $3 billion in taxes in the month of June, when the state only collects about 1.5 billion a month. This report that is late is supposed to explain how a $3bn gap turns into a $700 million surplus.

Does the Senator care to do his job of Executive branch.oversight, or is he too busy being worried about El Paso for his own political benefit?

Kevin Kane August 9, 2019 at 9:17 am

Interesting source of gun incidents in the USA especially the last 72 hours’ worth of incidents, complete with source for their numbers which cut to the facts. I noted the Meriden link was not quite right and the Bridgeport was a scooter-jacking at gun point so that is likely why there are zeros. Crazy. https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/last-72-hours?page=1&sort=asc&order=State

Very interesting research on 4 commonalities in mass shootings https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-08-06/heres-what-criminology-professor-learned-studying-every-mass-shooting-1966

(There are many issues at hand but disagree that that this is not about mental illness. I believe it is partially about mental illness. Has anyone found a mass shooter that was 100% mentally clear. Lanza was not mentally stable and in many cases, not all, the shooter is not all there mentally)

Was there any more discussion at the rally about this spike in gun violence in CT? Crazy what’s going on in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven. https://www.wtnh.com/news/connecticut/lamont-sending-resources-to-new-haven-hartford-bridgeport-to-stem-spike-in-gun-violence/

Ricky Bobby Jr August 9, 2019 at 10:51 am

Wake up, people….regardless of how you feel about the issue, local politicians use this to fundraise and make you vote for them, even as they loot and pillage. These are not nice people.

John Levin August 9, 2019 at 10:53 am

Scott – I agree, mental health is a serious problem. But a reasonable response would be to ban guns, or at least the most dangerous weapons, so that a sick individual is not able to kill and injure so many people so quickly. Bombs already are illegal, in part for exactly this reason. Banning assault weapons, for example, as many nations do and our nation did successfully for 10 years starting in the 1980s, should be a no-brainer. You claim “more gun laws only hurt the law abiding citizens”, but how many gun owners are actually harmed if they can’t possess a weapon which fires 41 rounds in half a minutes? That currently legal weapon was used by the very ill 19-year-old shooter in Dayton, where he shot 23 people, killing 9, IN LESS THAN A MINUTE! Who actually needs that kind of firepower? Soldiers fighting in war, that’s who. If there are folks that love their guns so much that they can’t live without them, fine, let them join a well-regulated militia and face the same kind of gun regulations as our military does (every weapon is locked up when not in use and carefully tracked at all times). We had (some) common sense 30 years ago. What happened?

Eleanor Lx. August 9, 2019 at 12:57 pm

A crazed person is a crazed person and will find any means to inflict harm. The opportunists anti-gun mob will find every chance to further their agenda during a period of national mourning and ignore the homicide rates of our inner cities (all under Democrat control). Shameful and pathetic to say the least. In the words of Charlton Heston, “You do not define the First Amendment. It defines you. And it is bigger than you. That’s how freedom works . . . For too long, you have swallowed manufactured statistics and fabricated technical support from anti-gun organizations that wouldn’t know a semi-auto from a sharp stick. And it shows. You fall for it every time.”

Steve Mann August 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm

People kill people. Not guns. Any infringement on Second Amendment rights opens the door for a ban on all guns. Should we ban cars because irresponsible people drive intoxicated and kill others? A call to ban all guns is like putting a band aid on skin six inches away from the wound. It’s a feel-good idea with unproven results. Australia banned assault weapons. Gun crimes rose 6%. A responsible gun owner’s toddler will not be in danger because there’s a gun in the house.

Paul Cantor August 9, 2019 at 3:49 pm

As Dr. Richard A Friedman, a psychiatrist pointed out in an Op. Ed in the New York Times yesterday, “One of the largest studies of mass killers, conducted by Dr. Michael Stone and involving 350 people, found that only 20 percent had a psychotic illness; the other 80 percent had no diagnosable mental illness — just the everyday stress, anger, jealousy and unhappiness the rest of us have.” The second amendment was ratified in 1891, eight years after the end of the Revolutionary War and more than two centuries ago. It says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Today, the security of the state does not depend on people keeping automatic weapons in their homes.

Bryan Meek August 9, 2019 at 8:54 pm

500,000 Syrians, dead at the hands of their own government were not available for comment on whether or not they would like to have a 2nd amendment there..

Venezuela, which used to be the third wealthiest country in the Western Hemisphere after diving full into socialism that some want here, confiscated all citizen weapons, and now enjoys the highest murder rate in the entire world.

That said, nothing wrong with a week or two for a background check. There can be a reasonable middle ground, but not as long as shameless politicians like the one above use the deceased for their own personal political gain.

Peter Franz August 10, 2019 at 10:55 am

“People kill people not guns” is a fools understanding of the American murder story.

When measured (like all sociological comparisons) against all other developed nations, America is the murder and mass murder capital of the world. Nobody comes even close. Our rate of homicide is not 30% or 70% greater than other nations, it’s many, many multiples.

Do gun zealots think mental illness does not exist in other parts of the world? Seriously, that MUST be their rationale, because otherwise how could these nations remain so safe?

The misinformation, the ignorance, the deflection and straw-man arguments that pollute an intelligent realization that ridiculously lax gun laws have made American society ultra-violent, is the biggest threat to the average American.

Is that a hysterical claim? Hardly. Since 1968 more Americans have died by guns than in ALL our wars put together. That number does include suicides, but it does illustrate just how violent we’ve let our society become. It doesn’t matter what political ideology you follow, the primary task for any government is to keep citizens safe. That’s why we have a legal system, a police system, a military. Yet by this definition, the US government has totally failed to keep its citizens safe.

Let’s have an honest realization about guns. Let’s stop saying it’s a mental health issue because that’s provably false.

Let’s stop saying it’s movies, or video games, or music. All those things are experience around the world and have not created the violence, or anything like it that America suffers. That’s another excuse provably false.

It’s guns.

Jo August 11, 2019 at 9:50 am

Methinks Mr. Meek protests perhaps too much about Kevin Lembo (who should have run for gov, in my opinion). What was the question???
As for Eric Nelson’s question, I’m looking at this amazing lady’s thoughtful and pragmatic ideas on addressing a complex challenge. http://lizwar.ren/3l/5pub8w

Steve Mann August 11, 2019 at 11:40 am

I wasn’t sure, so I checked. The murder rate in the USA is not “many, many multiples” greater than 70% of other countries. In fact, the US ranks 111th in homicide with any weapon with 4.7 per 100,000 people. That’s a recent number. While handguns are the most prevalent weapon, around 30% of homicide crimes occur through other means.

It is utterly simplistic to believe that banning guns will stop murders. The bad guys will always get a gun from other bad guys when they need it. Want to know what’s a critical issue? Political Correctness. How many killings could be prevented, i.e, Santa Barbara, if someone says something when they see something?

This society is constantly looking for a one-size-fits-all solution. It does not exist. Thorough background checks are valuable, but if the past was a sure way to predict the future, I know I’d be buying lottery tickets more often.

Ed Camacho August 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Steve Mann – No one is saying that banning assault weapons will stop murders. It is simplistic of you to suggest that.

Peter Franz August 11, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Steve Mann — check again. I clearly stated against all modern western nations. The same ones everyone uses to compare other societal outcomes: educational outcomes, healthcare outcomes, etc. Nobody serious about any topic compares the USA to Somalia, Yemen, etc.

And, also to be factually correct — banning certain kinds of weapons is proven to reduce mass murders. See Australia. Comparable rate of mass murders to the US in the lead-up to their worst mass murder: Port Arthur where a man with an assault rifle killed 35. After the semi-automatic weapon ban, gun collection, and gun licensing programs, Australia had 1 mass murders while the US, which was growing in gun ownershop, has had over 100. That’s when you measure 5 or more murders at once. When you measure 3 or more the number is in the hundreds.

There is massive evidence that strict licensing and run control reduce mass murder, and murder in general.

There is overwhelming evidence that doing nothing (the long-established Republican solution) costs dearly in American lives.

Steve Mann August 11, 2019 at 1:46 pm

Ed, I suggested what? Your convenient reference to my “assault weapons” statistic, while seemingly giving you a platform to refute me, was a statement of fact, not a suggestion. But to your point, MANY say that a ban of assault weapons will stop murders.

Steve Mann August 11, 2019 at 1:58 pm

“When measured (like all sociological comparisons) against all other developed nations”

Your words, Peter. The word “Western” isn’t there. In fact, Russia, Philippines, Brazil, and Thailand, where it’s even illegal to own ammunition for any gun but your own, all come in higher than the US on the list of murders per 100k people.

Concerned August 11, 2019 at 1:58 pm

The weakness of many arguments you hear on both sides of political discourse is extremely concerning.

“Why try to regulate guns, criminals will get them anyway” is a strikingly similar argument to “why try to limit immigration, people will get in anyway” but you’ll find conservatives making one argument and liberals making the other.

The issue is intellectual laziness. People want to hear, and tend to agree with, arguments that support their biases – and the media has gotten really good at providing those arguments through biased coverage, through manipulation of stats, etc.

You see it all over this page, where you have one guy saying we’re 111th in murder rate and the other one saying we’re first. That’s because people are listening to coverage that is cherry picking stats that match and confirm the bias of their viewers.

While this is a debate about gun violence and I think any intellectually honest person would agree that regulating weapons would likely reduce violence because guns are really easy to kill with compared to alternatives, I also think it’s important to recognize that this disease impacts both sides of the aisle – there are just as many liberals quoting twisted/misleading stats about liberal issues as there are conservatives.

The thing that has changed is the media – it’s gotten so much better at confirming our biases and targeting the things that will rile everyone up that we need to do better about trying to be objective and honest about our beliefs, and skeptical of convenient arguments and biased stats that support the narrative we prefer.

There are a host of other problems with how we consume information – focusing on specific events that resonate with us instead of broad trends, preferring black and white answers to the gray reality, etc. – but to me this is the big one. Most of the people on this site are well educated and should be capable of doing better. As long as everyone retreats to their confirmation bias filled safe spaces every time there’s a conflict, we’re going to have a hard time actually figuring things out.

Bryan Meek August 11, 2019 at 6:27 pm

150 years later, if you think no one can do what Sam Colt did in a shed, maybe you should go back to school. 40 years later after closing down institutions, here we are. And we have lunatics trying to tell us that only 20% of mass murderers are insane and people actually buying that. Yes, Concerned, it’s amazing how educated people can be brainwashed into thinking anything Common sense is what is severely lacking and a fear of God.

Peter Franz August 11, 2019 at 6:57 pm

Steve Mann — Again, for clarity, it IS correct to compare US data to modern western developed nations. That’s not cherry picking by the way. It is the opposite of cherry picking. It is comparing the US with ALL like nations that have fully a fully developed society and functioning government.

None of the other countries you list are modern western developed nations. We don’t say Third World any more, it’s “developing”. Russia is not developed of course, but besides, really is that what it takes to “make your point”… to compare the US to a country still hauling itself out of its Stalinist past and whose thuggish government is in fact contributing to its own murder rate by knocking off political challengers. Really that’s the best we can do?

And just FYI, it’s not just me or sociologists who label all the countries you list as developing, that is used by the financial world also, as understanding investments in developed vs. developing nations is very different.

As for media-biased data, that’s just naive conjecture. This is data from the FBI and the relative criminal justice or public health systems that make up the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

And quite frankly, this is not even debatable. Those who have studied international gun violence long before Sandy Hook have understood that the US holds this distinction of being the most deadly modern nation on earth. This is proven year, after year.

Concerned August 11, 2019 at 9:36 pm

Brian – the problem with your argument is that you say “no one”. Sure, some people can figure out ways around restrictions. The same way some people will find their way around a wall. The point of all laws is to make it harder to do so. It should be obvious that regulations aren’t going to 100% prevent the thing they are trying to stop.

I’m also not sure who you’re trying to convince when you call someone who is making an argument and quoting a stat a “lunatic” (which, by the way, made me lol – your threshold for calling someone insane seems pretty low, which seems relevant to this argument!). It would be far more effective if you attempted to debunk it instead of name calling.

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