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Greenwich Rallies Support for Newtown, Gun Control

Supporters at the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence rally at Greenwich Town Hall, March 8, 2014. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.
Supporters at the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence rally at Greenwich Town Hall, March 8, 2014. Photo credit: Barbara Heins.

There's no forgetting the tragedy of the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown of December 2012.

And the memories of that tragic day when 20 school children and their six teachers and principal lost their lives in a hail of bullets at the hand of a crazed gunman were memorialized in Newtown, Ridgefield and Greenwich on Saturday.

In each town, supporters for stricter gun laws — specifically, background checks at the top of the list — rallied to show support of Team 26, a group of cyclists who embarked on a four-day, 400-mile bike ride to Washington, D.C.

The group expects to arrive in Washington on Tuesday, March 11 and US Sen Richard Blumenthal and US Rep. Jim Himes say will be there to meet them, just as they were at stops along the way on Saturday. And in Washington, the group plans to deliver the message that was expounded in Greenwich on Saturday afternoon: background checks are needed for all gun-carrying residents and assistance should be provided for the mentally unstable.

Hope, peace, love.

"They are not just concepts but a way of life," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Greenwich said to about 200 people gathered outside Greenwich Town Hall on a sunny yet gusty Saturday afternoon. Those gathered cheered Team 26, along with a contingent of Greenwich cyclists — including Himes, who rode from Newtown to Greenwich for a rally organized by the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence.

"I will never forget the sights and sounds of the parents who left the Newtown firehouse knowing they would never see their children again," Blumenthal said. "It haunts me and will forever, and it should haunt everyone and should change America ... that we are not giving up and taking 'No' for an answer."

All of the speakers referred back to the lack of a majority in the U.S. Senate last spring which defeated a motion requiring background checks for future gun-owners.

Blumenthal said that that December day in Newtown "was one of the worst days of my life. And one of the worst days of my life also was last April when the Senate failed to pass background checks."

The rolling rally
Himes, a Cos Cob resident, joined Team 26 in Newtown and cycled with the to Ridgefield and then Greenwich. 

"It was about 50 to 60 miles, given the route they chose ... and potholes,"said Himes, who predicted he would spend the rest of the day in a hospital emergency room. "I work out but I don't ride ... maybe next year, I'll join them for the whole ride."

The team left Greenwich, riding through the Glenville neighborhood of town, before pedaling through Purchase, NY, headed for Harlem and Morristown, NJ, before continuing on to Washington.

Gun Violence Doesn't Discriminate

Newtown dad Monty Frank, a Team 26 member, recalled how one of his daughter's teacher was slain in the Sandy Hook attack. He described his fellow cyclists as "bike messengers" who will deliver the message to Congress that "gun violence doesn't discriminate against urban violence and the one traffic-light town where I live."

YANA
You Are Not Alone (YANA) is a group of Bridgeport women who've lost loved ones because of gun violence.

The group of women, clad in red sweatshirts stood at the podium that also included Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen. "We join this effort," said Dawn Spearman, a founder of YANA. "A gun is a gun and violence is violence."

She comforted a fellow YANA member who broke down while speaking. Nicole, who didn't give her last name, said, the group wants to elicit more support for gun-control legislation. But, she said, unfortunately, when the group gains a new member "it's not a good thing" — it means another woman has lost a loved one to gun violence.

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