Attendees hold candles at a vigil Monday night as the names of the victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting are read. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — Judi Richardson doesn’t know who killed her daughter Darien, but she does know that the person who bought the gun used in the crime didn’t go through a background check.

Judi Richardson, mother of Darien Richardson, speaks at the 2019 End Gun Violence Vigil, held at the First Parish Church on Congress St., Monday Dec. 16. In front of her is a picture of Darien, who was murdered in 2010. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Richardson was a speaker at a vigil Monday organized by the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, Moms Demand Action, Suit Up Maine and other groups to remember victims of gun violence. The vigil, which drew around 60 people, also called for legislation to close loopholes in gun laws like the one Richardson painfully experienced in her daughter’s case.

Darien Richardson, 25, was at her home in Portland in 2010 when an intruder shot her in the leg and arm. She died from the wounds over a month later. Police found the gun used to shoot her at another crime scene and traced it to the original owner. The owner said he had sold the gun for cash to someone whose name he didn’t remember. The case has not been solved.

“I don’t know if whoever killed my daughter could pass a background check, but I know they didn’t have to,” Richardson said at the vigil at the First Parish Church.

“We are left with the heartbreak and loss,” she said.

No background checks are required in Maine in private sales of guns. A bill in the Legislature to require background checks in those sales failed in the House in June.

“It’s through that loophole that my daughters murder has remained unsolved,” said Richardson, who founded the non-profit group, Remembering Darien to help victims of gun violence.

Geoffrey Bickford, of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, advocates for a bill that would ban guns in childcare facilities, at the vigil. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Following the failure of a number of gun control bills, Geoffrey Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, is promoting a bill, currently in the House, that would ban guns from any child care facility, which he described as a “common sense law.”

“As groups, we all work together to give a voice to the vast majority of people that support these gun control measures,”  Bickford said at the vigil.

The vigil also marked the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six teachers were killed. Candles were lit as the names of the Sandy Hook victims were read.

The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus, composed of immigrant children from around the world, many of whom have been exposed to war, famine and political turmoil, closed the vigil with a performance.

Outside the church, Peter Morgan of Raymond stood with signs calling for an end to gun violence. He said he chose to remain on the street during the vigil for visibility and has been advocating for stricter gun laws since the Columbine massacre in 1999.

“We don’t do enough de-escalation. We have a culture of violence,” Morgan said.

Morgan, a Coast Guard veteran, had two children in high school when Columbine happened and said he remembers the fear he felt for them.

“I think change will be evolutionary. The children of some of us are now organizing, and younger folks are more involved than ever. With them, I am hopeful for change, but I am not sure I will see it in my lifetime,” Morgan said.

Peter Morgan of Raymond opted to advocate for gun laws outside of vigil in Portland Monday. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus sings songs of peace at the vigil. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Con Fullam leads the Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus at the vigil.

The Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus performs at the vigil. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

 

 

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