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Norwalk vigil attendees urged to get involved

The Rev. Elisabeth Abel, pastor of Cornerstone Church, speaks Wednesday at a vigil on the town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

NORWALK, Conn. – At the second mass shooting-inspired vigil held in eight days, Norwalk leaders called for action, not “thoughts and prayers.”

“If you are not torn apart, I don’t know what to say. Silence is no longer enough; talking is no longer enough. Action is required right now. We cannot do this anymore. This is not another day; there are 18 children who are dead today,” said the Rev. Elisabeth Abel, pastor of Cornerstone Church, Wednesday on the town green.

A sign at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (John Levin)

More than 80 people gathered Wednesday at the vigil organized by Mayor Harry Rilling and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) to grieve the 21 victims of Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

On May 18, the previous Wednesday, Duff and Rilling held a vigil in response to a mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.

“Just 10 days ago we were standing together because of the shootout in Buffalo for racist motives,” Abel said. “Today we have children murdered by a child who was 18. How is that acceptable?”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) said he thought the shooting nearly a decade ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown would inspire change in federal gun regulations. But it didn’t.

“I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do,” he said. “If this country can’t act when that stuff happens, day in and day out, week in, week out, year in and year out, I don’t know what it takes.”

He had just been on CNN, where he was asked about an accusation from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that Democrats are “politicizing” the Texas massacre.

“Damn right, we’re going to politicize this,” he said. “Because politics is how we get things done in this country…. We’re a democracy. Politics makes us a better country. Politics is how we do things. And it’s about time we started protecting the children of this nation.”

But, “I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do that,” Himes said, adding that he draws inspiration from the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, when people acted even when they knew violence might be the result, feeling like “it might never work.”

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich) speaks at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

It did work, he said. “It took a generation…. I draw some inspiration from the idea that eventually we get there. I don’t know how I don’t know when but I do know that it’s not our responsibility to see it all the way through…. It is our responsibility to keep trying.”

“The one thing that we’re not politicizing the loss of life,” the Rev. Lindsay Curtis said. “When we talk about trying to do something that’s at the polling. Voting. We know where the opposition is. Maybe it requires us sending some letters, some cards to those who are in opposition.”

Jeremy Stein of Connecticut Against Gun Violence urged attendees to join an activist group, any group working to change gun laws.

“It is time to get off the sidelines,” Stein said. “We have to vote, we have to demand justice, we have to demand that there are common sense gun laws not just here in Connecticut, but around the country.”

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), speaking to the gathering by cell phone, and Himes both noted that Connecticut has toughened its gun laws after the Sandy Hook massacre.

“The guns that were used yesterday are illegal here in the state of Connecticut,” Duff said. “I am proud of that.”

He added, “We’re not an island. We can’t guarantee anything for the future. We did take what we could do, we make laws that has since then made our state so much safer. We reduced gun violence, gun crime.”

From left, the Rev. Lindsay Curtis, the Rev. Tamara Moreland, Mayor Harry Rilling, Lucia Rilling, Norwalk Director of Communications Michelle Woods Matthews and State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Tracy Craighead)

“I feel one-third so sad this morning,” Duff said. “My heart hurts so much… I feel two-thirds angry about what has happened as well… for those who rollback the laws that prot ect this country.” He explained, “Governors and legislators have literally rolled back laws, that guns are so much easier to get in Texas. And this is no joke: It’s probably easier to get a gun and buy a gun than it is to buy a toaster.”

He urged people to vote for candidates who believe in gun reform.

“We can win this battle. Because this is for the heart and soul of the country,” Duff said. “We can do this. But we need people to work and fight, to gather and to pray. We need everything, we need everybody, all hands on deck.”

The photo at top was contributed by Tracy Craighead.

Members of the crowd at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

Members of the crowd at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

Members of the crowd at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

Members of the crowd at Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) leads Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

Members of the crowd react to the Rev. Lindsay Curtis during Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green. (John Levin)

Wednesday’s vigil on the Norwalk town green comes to a close with a moment of silence. (Nancy Guenther Chapman)

19 comments

M Murray May 26, 2022 at 6:30 am

“It’s easier to buy a gun than buy a toaster”? Bob Duff caught in another lie?? Care to prove this one Bob? Today, I am going to send my 17 year old with $25 to Walmart and $25 and see if he can buy a toaster.

Sally F May 26, 2022 at 6:47 am

Put guards in schools armed with assault rifles, trained to go straight into any gunfire. Problem solved. There are schools doing that! Media silent on that solution.

Unless your a Democrat – then just mimick Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, ban guns, and watch your homicide rate go through the roof. Chicago has 1500+ deaths and crickets from the national media.

I suppose the security detail for these politicians is just a waste of money too — who needs guns when you can just intervene with a community mental health service worker??

“Defund the Police” Democrats want you to forget what the actual problems are, while they chock up feel-good “solutions” that either go nowhere or make problems 10x worse.

Ron May 26, 2022 at 6:49 am

I did not write this but felt the need to share it…..please read and let the words sink in as to why these senseless, atrocities continue. My prayers are with them and their families on this dark day. God Bless

Despite what the Left says, our children aren’t picking up rifles and killing people because there’s a Second Amendment. There’s been a Second Amendment for 231 years — and school shootings have only been around the last 30. As Dr. Ben Carson has said, “The heart of the matter is not guns. The heart of the matter is the heart.” And until we, as a nation, are willing to admit that, nothing will change. These tragedies, whether they’re in Sandy Hook or Santa Fe, are the slow burns of the cultural crisis that’s destroying us. In a country that’s seen far too many evils, it’s time acknowledge that we are a broken people in need of the God we keep pushing away.
Now is the time for honesty. What’s really wrong, Peggy Noonan wrote after Parkland, is something deep down we all know. “The family blew up — divorce, unwed childbearing. Fatherless sons. Fatherless daughters, too. Poor children with no one to love them. The internet flourished. Porn proliferated. Drugs, legal and illegal. Violent videogames, in which nameless people are eliminated and spattered all over the screen… The abortion regime settled in, with its fierce, endless yet somehow casual talk about the right to end a life… So much change, so much of it un-gentle. Throughout, was anyone looking to children and what they need?”

Lisa Brinton May 26, 2022 at 8:04 am

These mass shootings are appalling and unique to America and its ridiculous love affair with guns. Mental health problems and military grade assault rifles equals tragedy. These Norwalk vigils have a disproportionate staged attendance by Norwalk & CT politicians in love with their own voices and cameras. I see very little of the public. It’s disgusting. Everything I hear from NPS staff, kids, parents and posted fight videos, is that we need SROs back in the schools, not police cars stationed outside ‘for the cameras.’ Stop with the Norwalk green grandstanding and ‘campaigning’ on the coat tails of these unimaginable tragedies. Do something locally practical.

diane Keefe May 26, 2022 at 11:01 am

I attended both vigils in the last 10 days. As a recent retiree I intend to spend most of the months between now and November 2022 to remove a US Senator who has blocked progress on climate change and gun regulation. The lives of my children and yours may depend on it.
I have determined that the most important use of my time is to appeal to voters in states like North Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Nevada to support candidates who will vote “yes” on an assault rifle ban (which was law in the US from 1994-2004 w/o loss of the 2nd amendment)and “yes” to national background checks and red flag laws.
Under CT’s red flag law the FBI raided a Norwalk home a few years ago to disrupt a young man’s plan to import a stockpile of guns from Maine because those close to him believed he was a risk to himself and others.
We need more funding and resources for mental health to prevent these horrific outcomes from untreated mental illness and misguided white supremacy ideology. High powered weapons in the hands of folks with hateful intentions are far more lethal than those same people without access to those weapons.

Biometric locks and serial numbers on bullets for assault weapons should be implemented at the very least. Inaction at the national level should result in anti gun control politicians being voted out of office.

Piberman May 26, 2022 at 11:20 am

We don’t see too much concern from our elected leaders for the 10,000 violent homicides in large cities controlled by a certain political Party, 100,000 annual opiod overdose deaths including Fentanyl flowing over the border from Mexico, 30,000 auto deaths annually or on duty deaths of our police officers and military personnel.

Nor do we see much concern from implementing national standards for securing safe schools based on the experience of countries such as Israel that have seen frequent attacks on public schools by purposeful terrorists bent on killing children.

Surely the problem of attacks on schools requires more than a police cruiser parked in front of the school. Norwalk is building new public schools. Are City officials concerned about specific safety measures such as just one entrance, bullet proof remote controlled doors, panic button alarms throughout the building, several armed ex-military teachers on regular duty ? Or will it be business as usual for Norwalk’s BOE.

Prortecting our children won’t be resolved by grandstanding politicians. But by learning what works in other countries and relying on our police authorities. And remembering that’ll lives matter.

Michael McGuire May 26, 2022 at 12:14 pm

The crime and violence in communities across the US has increase significantly over the past decade. We see it right here in Norwalk with the constant fighting in our public schools. The issue is not guns, clearly cars/trucks/plans/pushing others in front of subways/stabbings/etc. have all be used for violent crime.

If we only focus on gun control, and ignore the broader societal ills we do everyone a dis-service and get no where – hasn’t that been the case over the past decade? This is a violence issue. Until we face that, and ask ourselves the really hard questions of why we are becoming so violent, we are just fooling ourselves.

Norwalk CT Republican May 26, 2022 at 3:44 pm

**SIGH**

Democrats will have you convinced no citizen can safely own or carry a gun, and that we do not need our 2nd Amendment. That only the police should have the right to carry a gun. And what did the police do in Texas? NOTHING TO HELP. They waited around until SWAT teams came. Children died because of the police in this situation. When parents saw the police werent going to do anything, The police stopped parents from trying to save their own children, they would not let them enter the school…

Not everything needs to be politicized…. Not everything that happens in the world needs to lead to a LOCAL policy change….What does Texas have to do with Norwalk CT? Different states… Different culture… ETC

Democrats are anti-Constitution. It is disgusting and an aberration to our founding principles as a country…

Why do these mass shootings always coincidentally happen under Democrat rule? Makes you wonder whats really happening behind the scenes…

Once again the virtue signaling knows no bounds…

Peter Franz May 26, 2022 at 4:37 pm

No other nation in the developed world, not even close, not a tiny bit close, has the homicide rate or the mass murder count that the US has. Guns are used in a vast majority of homicides, and are nearly exclusively used in mass murders.

To say that guns are not the issue is profoundly unintelligent and is in total denial of the evidence at hand.

Justataxpayer May 26, 2022 at 5:32 pm

All these shootings are tragic and even though Whoopie Goldberg wants to punch me in the face, I am actively praying for the families, friends, community, and our kids.

What have we learned from Sandy Hook and this tragedy and others? Can the Mayor and Duff stand up and tell us that this is not likely to happen in Norwalk because of a plan?

How about this idea? Instead of having police officers needed to watch ditches being dug (and sitting in their patrol cars) to make $200k a year, why don’t we put in SRO’s at every school? Shouldn’t this be JOB ONE for our society and politicians to keep our schools safe?

Niz May 26, 2022 at 7:19 pm

I caught the Megyn Kelly podcast yesterday and some very interesting and valid opinions were shared there.
then the local Uvalde news spoke with the grandfather of the shooter & a peer. As well as one of the parents that lost their daughter.
Today I saw on Instagram, Flame Monroe go in about the long delay to get to the shooter.

“Unique to America” really echoed in me.
Ron’s post touched my hurting heart!
There is no one solution and the suffering families should sue any politician using these tragedies the way they’ve been & are! No dang respect!!

M Murray May 27, 2022 at 6:23 am

Diane Keefe, fortunately by Election Day, I will be out of Connecticut and a resident of Pennsylvania where my vote will count and I can help re-elect that Senator in Pennsylvania that you are fighting against. For those of you who do not like the People’s Right to Bear Arms, there is a process written in the Constitution by the founding fathers to remove that Right. It is not through legislation. They put Amendments in the Constitution to protect the Rights of a People even if a simple majority disagree with them, because they are Rights and not Privileges. If the People of this country truly decide that Bearing Arms is no longer a Right, these so called politicians should go about it the proper way and propose a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Second Amendment, and if there is enough support for it, that Right will be removed from the people and then the legislators can grant the privilege to those they deem fit accordingly.

Audrey Cozzarin May 27, 2022 at 9:55 am

We are aviolent nation created by a conquering empire model and must face this. We have been and are regularly engaged in war as well as covertly supporting warfare in other countries, making money by selling arms.

We are a cruel nation, forcing Native Indians off their ancestral lands, enslaving Africans and Asians to build wealth. And even now inflating prices which cause 99% of us to suffer so a few can make greater profits. Our system of capitalism is a form of violence.

The way we drive is without regard for common rules and etiquette, cutting each other off, tailgating and harassing, speeding, lording it over one another. We are violent on the roads, as recent statistics show accidents and deaths increased 7% on our roads nationwide in the past year.

We have been brainwashed to worship “individualism”, showing little compassion to the poor and sick, ignoring the homelessness and utterly embarrassing decrepitude of our once-great cities across the land. We blame the poor for their circumstances as we ignore the institutions that are becoming increasingly more concentrated in the hands of the wealthy corporations who could care less about humanity.

We live isolated from neighbors and family, and do nothing much to foster or participate in community, with an “Us Four and No More” mentality. We have to shield our children from playing outdoors with any sort of independence because they could be kidnapped, and we have to worry every day they might be shot and killed at school. God knows what is taught in schools today–as this cycle we’re on keeps going round and round.

We worship money as the end goal, destroying the environment and causing suffering not only in America, but globally, in pursuit of Me Me Me and My Stuff. The soil, air, and water are poisoned. Our fellow citizens are unhealthy and overweight. Yet we just shrug and keep doing the same things.

We allow violence to keep happening because we look to politicians to solve our problems and they are not going to save us. Eliminating guns would be a great start. When I spoke to Rep. Jim Himes after the vigil on Wednesday, I said we need to ban all guns. He said, “That will never happen.” Okay folks, this is where we are with politicians.

We want to “take action.” Well, as the venerable Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (who passed away recently) said, “Peace is every step.”

Peace be with us all as we walk this path in life together.

Michael McGuire May 27, 2022 at 10:49 am

I agree with Ron and Ben Carson.

For those who believe this is a gun control issue consider the following: if the vast majority of the American people believed in the teachings of Jesus Christ, even with all the guns around, would we have this steady escalation in overall violence, mass shootings included?

For those of you who are not very familiar with the Jesus’s teachings here is a quick summary – The Golden Rule ‘treat others as you would like to be treated’.

Imagine if every politician, influencer, employer, employee, neighbor, adversary, motorist, family-member, ‘news’ anchor, you, me, etc. worked from the premise of the Golden Rule. Would Uvalde or Buffalo or any of the other senseless violent acts have happened?

This is a heart issue. It starts with each of us.

CT-Patriot May 27, 2022 at 11:18 am

If for once you think you can ban “assault rifles” think again …

There’s this thing called the southern border which is WIDE OPEN.

Drug cartels will just add to their manifest..Fentanyl, sex slaves, cocaine, AK47’s, AR15’s.

Stop focusing on a rifle or firearm and place it on the deteriorating family and society.

THAT is the problem!

Years ago, we could bring our rifles to school, had a shooting team and never was there a thought of going out on some shooting spree to kill people

Your efforts are misleading and we must get back to family values, discipline when needed, praise when shown, respect for all parents, clergy, police, teachers etc.

Failure to put the focus on that is just a waste of time and will not do a damn thing.

We have along with other states, some of the most restrictive gun laws. Adding another will not accomplish what you are all trying to decide what to do.

The society is broken and we need to fix it.

The Republic will fall if we ignore our efforts on the wrong thing!

Peter Franz May 28, 2022 at 7:37 pm

Other nations enjoy far safer societies exactly because of safe gun laws. In the USA, there is no such thing as a state with “restrictive gun laws.” And like the example of Chicago, it doesn’t matter a thing if one state has sane gun laws if the one next door doesn’t.

Those claiming tough gun laws don’t work haven’t spent a minute studying the topic.

CT-Patriot May 29, 2022 at 5:32 am

So Peter, so according to your theory, guns from other states with less restrictions are going to Chicago correct?

Then why is there no daily or nightly shootings where gun restrictions are not as strict as Chicago? Some states allow open carry of a pistol as well. So your theory, that should be the wild west or a typical Chicago weekend.

But they are not shootings every day, night or weekend. Strange.

I’d ask you the same question when it comes to Switzerland. Everyone of age has one. That’s because everyone of age must serve in their armed services and once discharged they all have rifles and ammunition at home.

So your theory is meaningless and the typical Democrat talking point.

Odd, we never had these problems years ago. Schools had shooting teams, kids had rifles and shotguns in cars and trucks. No one batted an eye.

So, what changed that makes people of all ages/color start shooting one another?

It’s our culture rot, breakdown of society.

Maybe since young males and females are so troubled with gender and emotions, we should reinstate the draft system.

I’ll bet with discipline in the armed services things will start to turn around in one aspect.

But we need to bring back the “nuclear family”. Respect for mother’s, fathers, teachers, police, clergy. Our society degrades women and those with authority. It HAS to change. We are breaking apart our society but everyone focuses on an object they deemed evil.

JustaTaxpayer May 29, 2022 at 8:34 pm

What is being done TODAY? What do Rilling, Duff, Himes, and retiring at 53 Perone have for us? Facts and plan please. This should be job one. What does Sandy Hook do today and do our schools have the same?

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