LIVINGSTON, NJ — Just prior to Gun Violence Awareness Day, celebrated on the first Friday of June, the Township of Livingston issued a proclamation declaring June as Gun Violence Awareness Month at the request of members of the National Council of Jewish Women/Essex County chapter and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
The first time Livingston declared a “Gun Violence Awareness Day” was in 2016, only days after the Orlando, Fla. nightclub shooting. Last week, the township’s proclamation was issued days after the shooting at Virginia Beach—the 10th mass shooting in America in the first five months of 2019 and the second mass shooting over the last month.
As last week’s declaration of June as Gun Violence Awareness Month in Livingston was organized long before the Virginia Beach shooting occurred, Mayor Al Anthony noted this as proof that these mass shooting are occurring too frequently and that something needs to be done. He pointed a supporter's T-shirt reading “enough is enough” as the one that most reflects his own feelings.
“[This proclamation] reaffirms Livingston’s commitment to honoring Nation Gun Violence Awareness Day on June 7,” said Anthony. “We just have this going on so much and we see it time and time again…Every time I hear this, I’m pulling my remaining hairs out just thinking that we have got to do something.”
In addition to wearing orange in support of this cause, members of the council also expressed hope that the future would present more official things they can do on the governmental level, such as encouraging responsible gun ownership and supporting common sense gun violence prevention legislation.
On behalf of Moms Demand Action, Livingston resident Stacey Goldstein Abenstein said she was thrilled with the turnout of “Democrats and Republicans, Jews, Muslims and Christians, men, women, and children” who attended the proclamation ceremony last week to show their support for National Gun Violence Awareness Day. She said alter that night that she has come to realize over the last two years how lucky she feels to live in a town with people who care so much for each other and the world they live in.
“I think we all have a story we can tell, and the problem is that right now every time we hear of it we can relate to it,” said Abenstein as she explained the connections she had to people involved in the Parkland, Denver and Virginia Beach shootings among others. “We can’t live like this.”
Supports also said that progress has been made in New Jersey, but that more needs to be done on the topic of gun sense, which they said is critical to the future of the United States. They also said this issue is no different than other popular topics like cigarette smoking and single-use plastics. More consistent action by community members is crucial for change to occur.
Members of the public, not only moms, are encouraged to join in the fight by visiting https://momsdemandaction.org/.