An energized crowd filled the East Rotunda in Harrisburg’s Capitol Building. Homemade signs floated between gaps of people: signs memorializing lost family members, signs arguing for second amendment rights, signs begging for an end to violence.
Last week was CeaseFirePA’s “Day of Action” rally.
After a short video from the coalition, Deputy Mayor/Managing Director Richard Negrin took the podium.
Almost immediately, Negrin described a scene from when he was thirteen years old. He and his father were walking back to their car on the day of his first junior league football game. Negrin remembered his new Puma sneakers, his Terry Bradshaw jersey, his nerves—his father would see him play football for the first time.
As he was ushered into the back seat, Negrin saw a speeding car and heard what he believed to be fireworks. The thirteen year old found himself on the sidewalk, amid shards of steel and bullet holes.
“As I slowly—in shock I’m sure—walked around the end of that car, that’s where I saw my father. Shot right in front of me, in the street, by a machine gun. A Mac-10 machine gun.” Negrin shared.
Negin held up a picture of the Mac-10 sub machine gun that was used to kill his father.
“There is no legitimate purpose for this gun. It is not a target weapon. It is not a military-grade weapon. It is a weapon of mass destruction.” Negrin said. “It fires a 45 caliber bullet 1,100 rounds a minute. It is not accurate. It is there to spray violence and create carnage.”
The Mac-10 sub machine gun can be bought on the Internet, without a background check, for less than $500.00. There are videos and manuals online to show you how to make the gun automatic.
“Today is the start of a national conversation.” Negrin spoke about the recent Newtown tragedy, how their loss—how anyone’s loss due to gun violence—must be our driving force behind ending that violence.
“Those solemn virtues of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must mean that we keep our children safe.”
Negrin was just the first speaker of a textured dialogue shared by public servants, ministers and grieving family members, each of whom had personal ties to gun violence. The crowd contributed to the cause as well. Through the signs and the clapping and the shared stories, formed an energy between each speaker and the majority of the crowd. This energy wasn’t entirely based on anger—it wasn’t entirely focused on sparring with the other side of the debate. This energy was, in its best description, determined. Determined to finally make a change; determined to make the country safer.
CeaseFirePa is a “statewide coalition of survivors and citizens who are dedicated to taking a stand against gun violence.” The day of rally took place on the first day of the year that both houses in the state legislature were in session.
Please visit CeaseFirePa’s homepage for more information about the cause.