The sun shone brightly over Cadman Plaza last Saturday morning. It was a beautiful day for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge. “Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America” was scheduled to perform their second annual march on New York’s City Hall and rally against gun violence in the nation.
The event was a coordinated effort by Moms Demand along with “Everytown for Gun Safety” and “Mayors against Illegal Guns.” Many of the marchers weren’t affiliated with any of these groups, including this writer. They simply wanted to add to the growing chorus of American voices against gun violence.
“We have to stop the madness,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. “Too many people have died, and too many lobbyists have lied.”
Turnout was considerably higher than previous events. The movement, which gun lobbyists widely predicted to fade away, has grown stronger in a short amount of time. This is alarming to the gun lobbies, as they fully expected the “Connecticut Effect” of shock and grief after Sandy Hook to subside. Instead, it’s been the opposite.
“What we are seeing today is the real “Connecticut Effect,” said Shannon Watts, Moms Demand founder, “Thank you, all of you, for your turnout today!”
The usual assortment of guns rights advocates descended upon the march, tearing it down online and in social media. A piece released by CNN and supported by the discredited gun researcher John R. Lott has been attacking the figures released by Moms Demand and Everytown, saying that the statistic of 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook is actually 15.
However, upon closer inspection of this report, many of the shootings were dismissed if they were suicides or spillover from adjacent criminal activity. Apparently gun violence in schools doesn’t count if students only kill themselves or are wounded by gang related shootings next to school grounds. All incidents still include gun violence, so this argument quickly descends into a never-ending spiral of semantics and false equivalencies, solving nothing. Which is exactly the intent of the gun lobbies.
Other gun lobbyists have forwarded that the event was a failure, drawing only a couple hundred protestors. This is blatantly false, there were easily over 1000 marchers present. Take it from someone who was there. It was a large crowd, albeit a peaceful one. And they received plenty of support, car horn honks, and applause from people passing by.
Suggestions were made that the marchers were cowardly, demonstrating in a state friendly to weapons responsibility legislation. Considering the actions of Open Carry Texas, this is a rather silly thing to say. White men holding rallies carrying long guns into chain restaurants and retail stores in upscale suburban neighborhoods of uber gun-friendly Texas. Real brave. As Moms Demand showed up to voice disapproval of the massive NRA event in Indiana not long ago, these allegations of cowardice can be dismissed out of hand.
Oh, and yes, there were armed police there, they were needed. Not just for protection of the marchers but for crowd control. It’s New York City. It’s the Brooklyn Bridge. It was a beautiful day and people were out in droves. The police were more concerned with keeping a walking lane free for non-marchers than they were about anything else.
Regardless, it was quite a day. The marchers were organized, passionate and peaceful. Naysayers were ignored, including one extremely vocal guns enthusiast, who railed and ranted next to the rally. For the most part he came off as a crazy person, wearing dirty and ill-fitting clothes and reeking of body odor. His sidekick looked for all the world like Saddam Hussein did when he was hauled out of his spider hole.
These were your representatives this day, gun lobbies. Look upon your supporters and despair.
The speakers were eloquent and to the point. Erica Lafferty spoke with fond remembrance of her mother, Dawn Hochspring, principal of Sandy Hook. Amanda Peet spoke of her commitment to keeping children safe from gun violence. I was standing behind Diana Rodriguez, who held a picture of her daughter Samantha, a victim of this plague of America.
It’s hard to report on what the speakers had to say. Their stories were so personal and so piercing that it diminishes their impact to put them in print. It’s difficult to convey the nuances, the hitch in the throat, the looks in their eyes. It’s best to hear these stories yourself than read about them.
All in all a very moving day. To hear first hand about what gun violence does to the survivors and their families could not fail to have an effect upon you. Talking about the senseless deaths of loved ones, while an insane man screamed offensive slurs and “Molon Labe” rhetoric was jarring.
The way things are going in America, gun violence will directly impact your life, if it hasn’t already. Hearing from those it has affected may help you find a way to change things.
And so, I urge you all to stand with Moms Demand. With Everytown. Stand against illegal guns. Stand for responsibility, real responsibility, not gun lobby rhetoric. If you have never been to one of their events, then go to the next one near you. It will be moving, inspiring, and memorable.
See you there.
He lives in Hell's Kitchen with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.
Chad also writes for spoiledNYC.com, quietmike.org, and contributes at politicalmoll.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ChadMac19 and on Facebook as well!
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