NEWTOWN, Conn. – The town where 20 children and six educators were massacred in December went silent for a moment Friday, six months later, at a remembrance event that doubled as a call to action on weapons control, with the reading of names of thousands of victims of gun violence.
The mood of the six-month marker was decidedly more political than private, with a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns holding events in 10 states calling for lawmakers to expand background checks and urging senators who opposed the bill to reconsider.
Two sisters of slain teacher Victoria Soto addressed a crowd gathered at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown for a 26-second moment of silence, honoring the 20 children and six adults gunned down at the school on Dec. 14.
“This pain is excruciating and unbearable, but thanks to people like you, that come out and support us, we are able to get through this,” said Carlee Soto, who hugged and held hands with her sister Jillian before taking the stage.
The event then transitioned to the reading of the names of more than 5,000 Americans killed with guns since the tragedy in Newtown. The reading of names was expected to take 12 hours.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which organized the event in Newtown, also launched a bus tour that will travel to 25 states over 100 days to build support for legislation to expand background checks for gun buyers. Such legislation failed in the Senate in April, and there are no indications it has gained traction over concerns about protecting gun rights.
The gunman in Newtown killed his mother and the 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School with a semiautomatic rifle, then committed suicide.