FANWOOD, NJ -- A crowd of more than 200 people turned out Sunday evening as Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr and the New Jersey chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America held a commemoration to mark the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shootings.
"It really touched my heart that we had so many RSVPs," said Mayor Mahr. "Our event was the largest in the state. It's the right thing and right time. Tonight people joined us from as far north as Morris County and as far south as Princeton."
"This turnout at this vigil shows that people are passionate and upset. This is about the victims -- especially the children," Mahr added.
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The Fanwood event, organized to honor all survivors and victims of gun violence, was the largest in the state. An impressive number of elected officials were in attendance, including U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson-Coleman (D-NJ), State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, Mayor Mahr, Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover, Township Manager Al Mirabella, and Councilwoman Colleen Gialenella, and Fanwood Borough Council members Kathy Mitchell, Kevin Boris, and Jack Molenaar. Members of the faith community were represented by Bishop Kelvin Brooks and Rabbi Joel Abraham of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Ministerium.
U.S. Rep Watson-Coleman noted that after each as shooting: "They'd ask all of the members of Congress to stand and offer a moment of silence. The problem with this is that we then sit down and do nothing."
"Many of us have had enough with this silence. It's the reason we've lost so many people to violence," added Watson-Coleman, who earlier this year introduced legislation would require registration of individuals attempting to buy more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in a five-day period.
Lauren O'Brien of the Union County chapter led the team of volunteers putting on the event, which was among more than 100 “Wear Orange” events that took place this weekend in communities across the country.
"Moms Demand Action supports the Second Amendment, while doing everything we can to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people or dangerous people and make our community safer," said O'Brien, explaining that her organization's goal is to promote gun safety to reduce children's susceptibility to gun violence.
"Each day, 86 Americans die from gun violence. America has 20 times rate of gun violence than any other country," O'Brien stated. "Orange represents safety to hunters; by wearing orange we will fight to take out country back. I ask you (to wear orange) for sake of those taken from us too soon. We must do better."
During the ceremony, candles were lit to commemorate gun violence incidents in the U.S., including the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults lost their lives and, more recently, the victims of gun violence in San Bernardino earlier this month. Fanwood Poet Laureate Adele Kenny presented an original poem and music was performed by local school students.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is a non-partisan grassroots movement of American mothers demanding common-sense solutions to address the country’s dangerous culture of gun violence, which jeopardizes the safety of children and families. To learn more, visit www.momsdemandaction.org or www.wearorange.org.