The Loudoun chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held its fifth and best-attended yet of its annual gun violence awareness events Saturday near Rust Library.
The event marks Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 3 and Wear Orange June 4-5.
Coming in the wake of another rash of high-profile mass shootings and gun violence, this year’s event included a display of 110 orange paper shirts, to illustrate the roughly 110 Americans each day killed with guns. The shirts also bore the names of some of the people who have been victims of gun violence this year.
Loudoun Moms Demand Action President Elizabeth Coppage said, “we’re here to say ‘no more.’”
“We’re here to say ‘no more’ to 70 women a month being shot and killed by intimate partners. We’re here to say ‘no more’ to Black Americans being disproportionately impacted by gun violence, with 10 times the gun homicides and nearly three times the fatal police shootings of white Americans. ‘No more’ to increasing the risk of death by suicide three times with the access to a gun. ‘No more’ to more than 10,000 hate crimes involving firearms every year. ‘No more’ to the gun violence being the leading cause of death for our children in America,” she said. “No more. We have had enough.”
Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87) cheered the changes made since the 2019 election.
“Over the past couple years, when you elected a gun sense majority, we passed some really meaningful legislation in Virginia at least to try to … make gun ownership more of a responsibility than, you know, just sort of free-for-all that it was before,” he said. But he said there are things still be done, such as limiting the sale of assault weapons.
“So many people have personal stories now of someone they know who’s been affected by gun violence, or who was killed themselves,” he said. He said one of his friends in college killed himself with a rifle, and his wife knew people whose children were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012 in Newtown, CT.
Equality Loudoun President Cris Candice said their daughter was born the day before the Sandy Hook shooting.
“It was a really difficult birth and the first time I held her, I realized that my job as a parent is to protect her from this world,” Candice said. “And while we were still in the hospital, the next day, I turn on the news. … December 14, 2012, the Sandy Hook shooting, 20 elementary school children. My daughter turns 10 this year and almost nothing meaningful in this country has changed. She still goes to school, not knowing if she’s going to be safe.”
Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter interim Executive Director Samantha Clarke pointed out the connections between gun ownership and domestic violence, both in actual shootings and using guns to threaten domestic violence victims.
“The ripple effects of firearms in the hands of an abuser extends far beyond the intimate relationship and well into our communities,” she said. “More than one in four homicides are related to domestic violence, and the use of firearms in domestic violence situations increases the risk that there will be multiple fatalities.”
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said, “I am so tired of being completely insulted with ridiculous reasons given for the gun violence—it’s the guns.”
“The thing that I would that I heard this time that was the most offensive thing, is these words: ‘it’s the evil of man,’” she said. “I’m sorry. Americans are not more evil than people in every other country. You cannot call yourself a great, patriotic American and then decide we are that much more evil than everybody else in the world.”
“You have the power to change the future, the power to go out and make sure that people understand that this is a time that we that we need common sense gun violence prevention laws in our country,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA-10 ). “That when we say ‘not one more’ that we mean it, and that when we say ‘never again’ that we mean it, that we don’t want to see 19 children slaughtered ever again and we have the options, we have the ability to help prevent that from happening.”
Rev. David Milam and Rev. Aileen Fitzke of Loudoun Interfaith BRIDGES led a prayer and moment of silence, and tents at the event included sign-ups to volunteer; the Goose Creek Friends, a Quaker community, handing out free trigger locks; staff from LAWS; and Birch Tree Books, among others.