Advertisement

Group wants background checks for firearm buyers

Western Maryland chapter of Organizing for Action members gather at library to get petitions signed

March 28, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com
  • Quentin Fleming, standing, leads a meeting for a call of a petition and letter to stop gun violence. The meeting held at Boonsboro Free Library was hosted by the Western Maryland chapter of Organizing For Action.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO — One hundred days after the second-deadliest school shooting in United States history, community members gathered at the Boonsboro Free Library on Thursday to sign a petition advocating universal background checks for firearm sales.

Hosted by public advocacy group Organizing for Action, close to 150 petition-signing events occurred throughout the country Thursday, according to Carlotta Joyner, Western Maryland chapter director.

“We’re part of this nationwide effort to make the public aware and make congress aware that there’s some common-sense legislation that we think is needed,” Joyner said, noting approximately 1,900 people have been killed by a gun since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

According to Joyner, more than 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks, as do about 74 percent of National Rifle Association members.

About 10 area residents showed up at the library to commit their name to a petition that, in addition to advocating the requirement of a criminal background check for all gun sales, listed making gun trafficking a federal crime and enhancing school and campus safety in a push for congress to pass what the petition called “common-sense gun reform legislation.”

Advertisement

Area individuals who signed the document Thursday will solicit for more supporters in coming days and the petitions will be delivered to Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin next week, Joyner said.

“We know they’re supporting this legislation, we want them to know we’ve got their backs,” Joyner said of the senators.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week formally introduced a gun bill that calls for measures that include expanding the background check system, which the Senate is expected to debate early next month, Joyner said.

Quentin Fleming, OFA Washington County contact, spoke during the informal meeting in which petitioners shared stories on how they have been adversely affected by gun violence.

Fleming, a retired clergy member, said he has more than once officiated at the funeral of an individual who took their own life.

“That’s a totally different kind of event than Newtown, but it was still gun violence,” Fleming said. “And I don’t know how you can always prevent that, but I know how tragic it is and how it impacts people’s lives.”

Hagerstown resident Mary Ann Keyser told fellow petitioners she signed the document to put the Newtown incident back in the minds of legislators.

“We have seemed to forgotten about Sandy Hook a little bit,” Keyser, 62, said. “It seems to have lost its impact.”

OFA formed during the Barack Obama 2008 election campaign and shifted to a non-partisan public advocacy group under his administration, Joyner said.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|