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Editorial Sharing a message, and strategy, with Parkland

February 13, 2019

A day of love, will now — for as far as memory stretches — also be linked to a day of hate.

Only hate of the most monstrous proportions could have led to the shooting deaths of 17 students and faculty at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day a year ago.

We in Connecticut know that too well from the crucible of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

After the Parkland shootings, students channeled their anguish by organizing a March for Our Lives, joined by students from across the country, to draw attention to the desperate need for gun safety legislation. A national school walk-out in April organized by Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock kept the momentum going.

Yet, Congress did nothing. And so the mass shootings continue; 138 in this country since Parkland, 37 this year alone, as of Feb. 13.

We in Connecticut realize change can be slow. If the murder of 20 first graders and six educators could not budge the majority of Congress, what could?

We say to the Parkland students, though, keep heart; stay strong. Stay involved.

Bills before Congress might finally come to a vote. One to expand background checks to every gun purchase — something more than 90 percent of Americans say in polls they want — could be raised for a vote, unlike other years.

This week Connecticut’s Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose Florida district includes Parkland, and other legislators to reintroduce the Keep Americans Safe Act that would ban gun magazines of more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“Large capacity magazines are used almost universally in mass shootings because of their ability to maximize casualties,” the Florida congressman said. “With the memory of those killed in Columbine, Newtown, Las Vegas, and Parkland in our hearts, we introduce this bill to make communities safer.”

Some steps you can take:

Tell your members of Congress you demand a “yes” vote on magazine limits and universal background checks.

Speak out in support of gun safety bills before the Connecticut General Assembly, including a ban of ghost and 3-D printable guns that cannot be traced and safe storage of firearms.

Attend a vigil to honor the 17 students and educators who died at Parkland, and other victims of gun violence, on Feb. 14 from 7 to 9 p.m., at the First Church in Fairfield. The vigil, organized by CT Against Gun Violence, will also “recognize the unprecedented accomplishments led by young people over the past year.”

Encourage schools to join the free Say Something program offered by Sandy Hook Promise, which trains middle and high school students to recognize warning signs of gun violence and to get help from a trusted adult. Say Something Week will be Feb. 25 to March 1 in thousands of schools across the country.

To Parkland we send the message that resonated from Sandy Hook: We choose love.

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