|from "Sandy Hook Ride on Washington"|
It is heartening to see the dedication and resolve of these bikers from Newtown, Connecticut on their bike ride to Washington D.C. to call attention to weak gun laws and to remind our politicians that they have a job to do. In case they have already forgotten about the shooting of 20 6 years olds on 12/14, the rest of us have not. From the linked article, above:"We wanted to be remembered for not the town that suffered the unspeakable tragedy, but for a town that rose from tragedy and tried to make a difference in the world," adds Frank.A difference Chris McDonnell hopes they can achieve."I ride for love, the love of the innocence, and beauty of a child whose life was so full of dreams and boundless possibilities," McDonnell says, "I ride for Grace."
Here is "Team 26" on a leg of their trip from Connecticut to Washington D.C.With his wife, Lynn, at his side, McDonnell received a long ovation from the crowd and said he made a promise after his daughter, Grace, was killed that "her life will be forever celebrated" and "her voice will be forever heard."McDonnell said he hopes the nation's leaders "will step forward and tackle" the "grave issues" related to the shootings.Frank, a Newtown lawyer whose daughter, Sarah, was taught three years ago by Victoria Soto, a teacher killed in the shootings, said that the Second Amendment right to bear arms "doesn't trump" Americans' rights to live.Friday would have been the seventh birthday of Dylan Hockley, who also was slain at the school, Frank said."He had the right to turn 7, the right to turn 8, the right to turn 9 — like our other beautiful children (who were killed)," Frank said.Frank said "the right to bear arms is not unlimited," and "reasonable restrictions are necessary."He said the riders support numerous initiatives in Congress, including universal background checks, bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, and increased funding to assist the mentally disabled.Such initiatives are needed now, because "America needs to end this epidemic of gun violence," Frank said.Llodra, Newtown's popular Republican chief executive, said she was humbled by the words of Frank and others who have praised her actions and work following the Dec. 14 shootings.The 70-year-old first selectman mentioned her age and said she believes she needs "to leave the world in a better place."We have the ability for those who come after us to make this a safer and a better place," Llodra said. "I feel every day that I have to do more."Llodra said "gun violence is threatening the very fabric of our society."Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Team's 26's message is that "we must stop gun violence" in the United States."Team 26 is really Team Connecticut, Team America," Blumenthal said. "While the rest of the country will be setting ahead their clocks (as daylight savings time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday), Team 26 will be setting ahead the country's conscience."Blumenthal said "we're not going to settle for a piece" of the proposed gun-control initiatives but instead push for a "comprehensive strategy" that includes an assault weapons ban.Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., praised the town of Newtown and its citizens and pointed out the beauty of the riders and the locals who came out to support them."For all the horrid awfulness of that day (Dec. 14), this is beautiful," Murphy said.Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., said that, for "almost three month," the Newtown community "has lived with the consequences of political inaction and an unspeakable tragedy."She said that it's been "nearly 20 years since this country has dared to address the gun-violence issue, and countless communities have paid a price."She said the cyclists and Newtown people who came out to support them are "the true Connecticut Effect.
Along the way, the group has had rallies and press events with local Mayors and citizens. One was in Frenchtown, New Jersey:
Another article mentions that Chris McDonnell ( Grace's father) wants to speak "truth to power":Frenchtown poet John Smith read a poem about Newtown and his concern for his own child’s safety, and Cooper urged the crowd, “Let’s not waste time arguing over something (the right to bear arms) that has been settled by the Supreme Court. Let’s work to find ways to reduce gun violence.” He is a member of a national coalition called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has been seeking municipal support for gun-control.Michael Pohle, a Raritan Township father who lost a son to the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, cited the mass shootings that have taken place since then and lamented the nation’s short attention span. “News lasts 24 hours and then goes away,” he said. He encouraged the Team 26 riders in their efforts and then thanked each of them with a handshake or a hug.One of the people who turned out for the rally was Scott Cohen of Raritan Township. He said he was there “to support change in our society’s thinking and redirect guns in a safe direction so there are no more incidents like Newtown, Aurora (Colo.) and Virginia Tech.”
He rides for Grace. It's pathetic that we have to speak truth to power in this country. Those in power should need no encouragement to do the right thing. They should be doing this on their own with no struggle or opposition to passing laws in memory of these little children. There is something wrong with a country that can't pass common sense laws in the face of so many mass shootings and every day shootings without having a huge fight from NRA lobbyists and leaders who have managed to unduly influence some of our leaders. What's wrong is the fear and paranoia propagated by the gun rights extremists. What's wrong is the lack of will and courage to do the right thing by too many of our leaders. What's wrong is that we haven't sent a message that we will not tolerate any more of these shootings in America. What's wrong is that our leaders have let themselves be fooled into thinking they can't pass reasonable gun laws because of the false claims that gun rights will be taken or that guns will be confiscated. It's time to do what's right. For too long we have been doing the wrong thing. Lives have been lost senselessly. Children should not be massacred in elementary schools. People should not be mowed down by a crazed gunman with 100 round drum ammunition magazines in a movie theater. People should not be gunned down in work places, in beauty parlors, in spas, on college campuses, in Sikh Temples, in public buildings and in homes. Enough is enough. If we aren't better than this, who are we as a country?Chris McDonnell rides for his daughter, Grace.His goal? "To speak truth to power" and to carry the "Newtown Effect" to Washington, D.C.Grace McDonnell, 7, was among the 20 Sandy Hook Elementary School children who lost their lives Dec. 14, when a gunman opened fire at their school. Six educators also died that day.Team 26, a group of 26 bicycle riders, left Reed Intermediate School in Newtown early Saturday amid cheers and applause. Chirs McDonnell was among them.Along the four-day ride, Team 26 plans to draw attention to the need for "common-sense gun control" while pedaling 400 miles to Washington, D.C., to address Congress. The cyclists are scheduled to arrive Tuesday."I ride for a child whose life was so full of promise and endless possibilities," McDonnell said. "I ride for Grace."
Here is a video of the press conference at the Baltimore City Hall after the Sandy Hook riders made it there:
Maryland is set to pass some of the most strict gun laws in the country.