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Newtown families join U.S. Capitol vigil honoring victims of gun violence

Susan Walsh
Office of U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal

Connecticut’s federal representatives stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with the Newtown Action Alliance on Thursday to ask Congress to pass a national ban on assault weapons.

The group is in the nation's capitol ahead of December 14, which marks 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. They were joined by survivors and family members of gun violence incidents from all over the country.

Po Murray, chairwoman of the Newtown Action Alliance, called on the Senate to pass a vote that would place a federal ban on the sale and purchase of assault weapons.

“We remember those who have been taken from their families and today, we honor them with action,” Murray said. “We're here today to ask the Senate to do more. Specifically, we would like the Senate to schedule a vote to pass the assault weapons ban.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), who has been one of Washington’s leading voices against gun violence since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012, called on his colleagues to support the measure.

“We are here to compel our colleagues to do the right thing and pass legislation that is wildly popular in the American public,” Murphy said. “We're not asking anybody to support something that has 30% or 40% support. Background checks are supported by 90% of Americans, and the assault weapons ban is supported by 60% to 70% of Americans. And they work.”

Murphy, alongside Newtown Action Alliance and the rest of the congressional delegation, attended the Annual Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence at St. Marks Episcopal Church on Wednesday night. President Joe Biden and Barack Obama were also in attendance.

In June, Biden signed the most significant restrictions on gun use in three decades, in the aftermath of the shootings at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. The legislation imposed stricter background checks for the youngest purchasers, restricted guns from more domestic violence offenders, and made it easier for states to enact “red flag” laws that help authorities seize firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others.

At Wednesday’s vigil, Biden called the ban on assault weapons “common sense,” and said the passage of that legislation would not be enough.

“Our work continues to limit the number of bullets that can be in a cartridge, the type of weapons that can be purchased and sold ... a whole range of things,” Biden said.

In the 10 years of its history, Biden is the first president to speak at the vigil. He reminded families that their deceased loved ones would be with them forever.

“Scripture says the light shines in darkness and darkness does not overcome it,” Biden said. “All of you here tonight, you are the light ... and your loved ones and your friends, they’re the light. And they’ll always be with you, no matter what happens.”

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
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