SUMMIT, NJ - Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit is inviting the public to attend a winter vigil for victims of gun violence on January 13, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Reverend Dr. Robin Tanner, Beacon’s co-minister, will lead the vigil, which will culminate in a candle-lighting ceremony. The program will also include a screening of the short film 'Aiming for Safety' and a discussion of New Jersey’s new Red Flag law.

'Aiming for Safety' is a seven-minute film about George Faison, a hunter -- and Unitarian Universalist -- who is deeply concerned about the American gun violence epidemic. Faison has come up with “six fixes,” common-sense proposals he feels gun owners could adopt without fearing a threat to their Second Amendment rights. Lisa Reznik, director of The Film Society of Summit, will introduce the film.

Karen Kanter of Brady-United Against Gun Violence will discuss New Jersey’s Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) Act, also known as the Red Flag law, which went into effect September 1. She will explain how families, housemates or law enforcement can prevent gun tragedies by getting a court order to temporarily restrict access to guns by individuals deemed to be at an elevated risk of harming themselves or others. 

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Charlene Walker, Executive Director of Faith in New Jersey, will speak to a local campaign called 'Live Free', which works to address urban gun violence through sparking a social justice revival in faith communities. The vigil will aslo include Heather Harrington, adjunct dance professor at Kean University, in a three-minute work inspired by the school shootings. Beacon member Andy Roth will provide a song.

The January 13 date of the vigil is significant because it is midway between the December 14 anniversary of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, CT, and the February 14 anniversary of the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. A total of 45 school children and staff members were murdered in the two mass shootings.

As tragic and horrifying as mass killings are, they represented less than one percent of the estimated 39,000 gun deaths in the U.S. in 2019, according to a database compiled by the Associated Press, USAToday and Northeastern University. Suicides represented about 61 percent of total gun deaths, with the rest accidental deaths and homicides, many of which have a disproportionate impact based on race and urban gun violence. 

For further information about the vigil, contact Beacon at 908-273-3245 or check the Beacon website SummitBeacon.org.

Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Summit is located at 4 Waldron Avenue.