Stamford March for Our Lives One year after rally, still marching forward
It has been one year since the Stamford March for our Lives Rally in Mill River Park when we stood in front of 3,000 people, united in purpose, gathered to demand action to protect our community from gun violence. We listened and were inspired by the powerful words and music of our local students and were awed by a surprise performance of “The Sound of Silence” by Paul Simon. In the distance, a makeshift clothesline held 96 T-shirts billowing in the wind, a stark reminder of the 96 lives lost to gun violence every day. Along the pathway, students lay on the frozen ground holding up names of victims of school shootings. Amidst the crowd, a memorial wall rose reminding us of the unnecessary tragedy of gun violence.
As we reflect upon our involvement in March for our Lives, we realize what a pivotal moment it was for us as organizers. Our group of five women met each other for the first time just two weeks prior to the rally at a Moms Demand Action meeting in Stamford. Wanting to give a voice to our students after the mass shooting in Parkland, Fla., we decided to put together our own event in Stamford. We had no idea that this rally, along with more than 800 others across the country, would become such a powerful force, elevating and sustaining a national call for greater awareness and thrusting us into a new world of advocacy.
As (mostly) new activists we have found that staying motivated and engaged in gun violence prevention is hard work. Post-rally we have focused on mentoring students, planning, implementing and attending awareness events, canvassing/phone banking for “gun sense” candidates, promoting gun safety, standing with survivors, and supporting common sense gun legislation.
We have not been alone. The Stamford Police Department, with Capt. Richard Conklin and Capt. Diedrich Hohn, has kept us informed and up-to-date on the toll gun violence takes on our city. They’ve educated us on efforts to make our community safer and to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Since last year’s rally, the Stamford Police Department has intervened in at least 18 arrests involving illegal possession of guns in our city. Their success is due in part to courageous members of our community who alert the police, and the hard work of our officers and special investigative units. We applaud their persistent efforts in Stamford and thank them for their tireless work in keeping our community safe.
Ultimately, everyone in our community has a role to play. Our elected officials in Hartford and Washington, D.C., must support common sense gun laws, including universal background checks and safe storage. Parents, educators, students, health providers, and community leaders need to learn the warning signs of potential violence, teach alternative means of conflict resolution, and support social and emotional programs in our schools from pre-school through high school. Family members must be aware of and use existing laws, such as Connecticut’s Extreme Risk Protection Order, and seek the intervention of law enforcement when a person with access to a firearm is a potential risk to themselves or others. All gun owners must store their firearms securely, locked separately from ammunition to avoid unintentional shootings and suicides. With safe storage, gun violence among children and teens can be reduced by 73 percent. And secure storage in homes and cars prevents gun thefts — studies show that most guns recovered from crime scenes were stolen.
Our message to the 3,000 who rallied with us that day and who share our mission to end gun violence is simple. Join with us again. Reflect on the impact of that day and the lives lost every day, nearly 40,000 in 2018 alone. Call or email your city, state and federal elected officials. Thank them for their efforts and urge them to vote for 1) closing the loopholes nationally on background checks, 2) stronger safe storage laws and 3) a ban on ghost and 3-D printed guns. These laws will directly save lives.
As the organizers of the Stamford March For Our Lives rally and members of Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, CT Against Gun Violence, and The Enough Campaign we stand committed to our ongoing advocacy work. To get more involved in any one of these groups contact:
Stamford March for Our Lives Organizers: Robin Druckman, Kim Anderson, Vicki Zacharewicz, Kristin O’Neill and Shira Tarantino.