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Gun control at forefront of Batavia vigil

A candlelight vigil to remember Newton was held Monday evening at the corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street.
A candlelight vigil to remember Newton was held Monday evening at the corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street.

BATAVIA – More than 50 people gathered Monday for a vigil in Batavia to mark one month since the Newtown, Conn., school shooter killed 28 people, including 20 children and himself.

The group stood with lit candles at the corner of Batavia Avenue and Wilson Street holding signs, including one that said “Remember Newtown.”

Robin and Jane Thompson of Batavia joined the vigil.

“There’s got to be a way to prevent gun violence,” Robin Thompson said.

“There’s a solution; you just have to find it,” Jane Thompson said.

On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he shot and killed 20 children and six educators before killing himself. The national conversation has since turned to gun control and how to prevent such tragedies from happening.

The vigil was the same day President Barack Obama planned to review recommendations by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force on gun violence.

Page McCloud, who organized the vigil with his wife, Carol McCloud, said the goal was to keep gun issues “on the front burner.”

“We can’t let it drift away,” he said.

Page McCloud said he and his wife have never organized anything like Monday’s vigil, but they are very active with their church.

“We’ve always been concerned about how if you sit quietly on the sidelines ... sometimes what a lot of people are thinking doesn’t get out there,” he said. “I think we hear a calling every so often about things.”

He said he hoped those who joined the vigil would quietly demonstrate the need to keep gun issues front and center, and most importantly, the need to find a solution.

Bill and Susan Price of Warrenville said they hoped the country would continue to talk about mental health issues and banning assault rifles. Susan Price said she believes part of the solution is to make sure people with mental health issues get appropriate treatment in appropriate facilities, and that early intervention could help.

Bill Price, an attorney, said he believes it should be illegal for civilians to own assault weapons and to limit the use of assault weapons to be in the hands of trained militia. He said Australia’s government toughened its gun laws a few years ago, and the country has had no mass gun casualties since.

Tony Malay, president of the Batavia Education Association, attended the vigil with his wife and three children. He said it’s easy for conversations to stop with time, but it’s important to keep the issues alive.

“As an educator, we have enough struggles with the challenges we face in education,” he said. “Violence in schools is not fair to children. We’re better than that.”

Lori Martin of Oswego said Monday’s vigil was an opportunity for her to stand up for what she believes in. She held a sign Monday that said “Ban Assault Weapons.”

“I can’t see any other logic,” she said. “It would probably have saved a lot of those kids in Newtown.”

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