MORRISTOWN, NJ - Twenty-six cyclists on a journey from Newtown, Conn. to Washington, D.C. made two stops in New Jersey Sunday to honor the 20 students and six educators killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.
The cyclists, known as Team 26, visited Montclair Bikery and Morristown Town Hall to voice their concerns and bring awareness of their cause for gun reform. They were supported by BlueWaveNJ, CeasefireNJ and Million Mom March along with local elected officials.
Led by organizer and Newtown resident, Monte Frank, the annual 400-mile bike ride has been a way to remember those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy and all those lives lost by gun violence across the United States.
“We will cross many bridges on this ride. …as we cross every bridge, we are strengthening the bond in these communities. We are all Newtown,” said Frank, the event’s organizer and participant.
The four-day ride began at 8 a.m. Saturday with a rally at Edmond Town Hall in Connecticut and includes 14 stops along the route, including in Montclair and Morristown.
Dr. Bill Begg, one of the cyclists riding with Team 26, was the emergency room physician on duty in Newtown that day. He says that he got involved with Team 26 to bring awareness of the need for gun reform.
“As an E.R. doctor, I saw the Sandy Hook children come in and I said enough is enough. I felt that I had to take a stand. From that time on, I have felt that I had to be as proactive as I could. Highlighting gun violence is a public health issue, just like drunken driving or smoking. When you look at it that way, there's no Democrat or Republican, there's no black or white, there's no rich or poor,” said Begg. “Its 30,000 deaths a year and we have to find common ground and decrease the gun violence. Our goal here, led by Monte Frank who has organized this trip, is to stop in as many places as we can from Newtown to D.C. trying to raise awareness.”
Frank said they are advocating for changes such as background checks before all gun sales, a federal ban on high-capacity magazines, making trafficking in illegal firearms a federal crime and restricting firearms when a temporary restraining order is issued in domestic violence cases.
In Morristown, Mayor Tim Doughery addressed the crowd. "We thank you, Team 26 for your commitment to continue to bring this awareness to our government, to Washington, year after year. We applaud this awareness and this campaign to change laws and to make people aware of gun violence".
The cyclists will stop in Pennsylvania next and arrive in Washington on Tuesday.