Students Lead Gun Violence Event at Purcellville Town Hall

Loudoun high school students organized a gun violence awareness event on Saturday, June 25, the same day President Joe Biden signed into law new gun safety measures.

Gabriel Kelso, a member of Loudoun Valley High School’s Students Demand Action chapter, pointed to estimates that gun violence kills 110 people a day.

“When you hear numbers this large, it can be easy to get lost and think, ‘well, that’s a lot,’ and not really think about any further. But you have to remember, these aren’t just numbers. These are people,” Kelso said. “Every day, 110 people will die from gun violence. Every day, 100 people with emotions and with things they love, and with things they fear, with favorite foods and least favorite co-workers—every day 110 people with opinions, and pet peeves, and birthdays, and secrets, and childhood memories are killed. And this is why we say lives are lost, because these people that are killed have lives that are just as complicated as your life is every single day.”

And, he said, those killings affect more than just the immediate victim.

“For every person killed, a dozen more are plunged into a lifetime of grief,” he said.

Kirsten Ponticelli said the U.S. is the only first-world country with a gun violence epidemic.

“These issues are preventable, but only if we act now. We cannot continue to think and pray these issues away. We cannot continue to sit quietly while our children continue to face the consequences of our inaction,” she said. “The children of Sandy Hook, of Stoneman Douglas, of Uvalde—none of them asked to be the face of this movement. So if you have a voice, use it.”

Kirsten Ponticelli speaks at a gun violence awareness event at the Purcellville Town Hall Saturday, June 25. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

Loudoun NAACP Third Vice President Christian Yohannes, a college student, said he grew up desensitized by the constant news of gun violence. He said that only changed in the past year.

“It’s easy to be discouraged, and even easier to accept situations for what they are. However, some things are worth not taking the easy way out for,” he said. “Over 200 mass shootings this year—that’s worth doing things the hard way for. An elementary school having to be bulldozed because they couldn’t ask the students to come back there after their watched their friends be slain in the middle of the halls—that’s worth doing things the hard way for.”

And he said the gun violence measures signed into law that morning were a first step in decades that meant gun safety advocacy was working.

County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said she and her generation owe the younger generations an apology for their inaction.

“We owe you an apology because Columbine happened in 1999. Columbine happened in 1999. And in 1999, we started hearing the term ‘thoughts and prayers,’” she said. “Well listen, I’m a Christian. So please pray for me and please think about me. But thoughts and prayers without action just doesn’t mean anything. So we owe you an apology falling for the ‘thoughts and prayers’ statement, for all the excuses that came after, and not doing anything.”

Purcellville Mayor Kwasi Fraser also took part, introducing speakers, and Kelso read the names of 110 victims of gun violence. Catherine Northedge read the poem “Hymn for the Hurting” by Amanda Gorman.

11 thoughts on “Students Lead Gun Violence Event at Purcellville Town Hall

  • 2022-06-27 at 4:47 pm
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    When these people protest outside the office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for letting a guy go who threatened a Loudoun school with a firearm, perhaps they’ll be taken seriously. Until then, they’re just mere props for the extreme left.

  • 2022-06-27 at 4:58 pm
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    The vast majority of Loudoun’s murder victims die from stabbing or bludgeoning. How about we do something about that?

  • 2022-06-27 at 5:13 pm
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    This event (powered by young people) restores my faith in humanity. Gun violence is rampant in America. We can’t sit back & do nothing. We don’t have that luxury. The next victim could be your loved one — or you. It’s time to do everything we can to eradicate this scourge on society. On a brighter note, Happy Helen Keller Day Loudoun!

  • 2022-06-27 at 8:40 pm
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    I’m am in Randall’s generation and I owe this generation in the way of an apology. I have not shot and killed anyone. I have never used a gun to rob anyone. I have never served in politics and failed act. I have never been a judge or DA that failed to send someone to prison for gun violations. I have never been witness to gun violence and remained silent.

    Perhaps SHE owes them an apology but that’s on her.

  • 2022-06-27 at 8:42 pm
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    I’m in Randall’s generation and I owe this generation nothing in the way of an apology. I have not shot and killed anyone. I have never used a gun to rob anyone. I have never served in politics and failed act. I have never been a judge or DA that failed to send someone to prison for gun violations. I have never been witness to gun violence and remained silent.

    Perhaps SHE owes them an apology but that’s on her.

  • 2022-06-30 at 2:47 pm
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    The real problem is the woke D a’s who do not prosecute the criminal, look at L A where the criminal was charged with assault and the next day was released and killed two police officers. Let us start ny respecting and supporting our police officers, stopping the defund the police nonsense and voting out any D A who is not strong on crime. Ms. Randall and I are from the same generation and I do not owe anyone an apology, she does because she supported our weak on crime D A.

  • 2022-07-02 at 11:09 am
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    I agree with Turtle. If Randall feels she needs to apologize to a specific group of people, she should. However, she does not have any authority to apologize for me or any other person.

  • 2022-07-03 at 7:44 am
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    Everyone is all up in arms about gun deaths. What about drug overdoses? More than 107,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2021 so an average of 293 people per day. Deaths from opioids rose from 70,029 in 2020 to 80,816 in 2021, an average of 221 per day. Deaths from drugs including synthetic opioids like fentanyl, psychostimulants and cocaine also rose. So don’t just lecture us on guns, drugs are a far greater risk to our youth. Stop pushing a BS agenda and do something worthwhile and attack the drug problem.

  • 2022-07-05 at 12:23 pm
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    Read through these gun nut comments and you’ll understand why we have a serious problem doing anything about gun safety here in the U.S. There are literally thousands of folks like these commenters who think 45,000 or so deaths a year from guns is just the price we have to pay to enjoy the freedom to let any fool walk around with a deadly weapon

  • 2022-07-05 at 5:48 pm
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    From a non-political publication called Scientific America:

    “As we previously reported, in 2015, assaults with a firearm were 6.8 times more common in states that had the most guns, compared to the least. More than a dozen studies have revealed that if you had a gun at home, you were twice as likely to be killed as someone who didn’t. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health tells us that states with higher gun ownership levels have higher rates of homicide. Data even tells us that where gun shops or gun dealers open for business, killings go up. These are but a few of the studies that show the exact opposite of what progun politicians are saying. The science must not be ignored.”

    In addition: @ ace10 I seriously doubt your claim that the “…vast majority is from stabbings and bludgeoning..” is accurate. FBI Crime Data explorer in 2020 reports guns being responsible for nearly 8 out of 10 homicides across the USA and I really doubt Loudoun is the exception.

    Y’all just need to stop reporting what you hear from your friends or Facebook as being your source of all truth. Usually, it just ain’t. Dooooo youuuuuu u n d e r s t a n d ? ? ? ?

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