Marking The One-Year Anniversary of the Newtown Massacre
Vigil says ENOUGH to gun violence
by Eve Sullivan for the Stamford Advocate
STAMFORD -- A group of women gathered downtown Thursday night to commemorate the first anniversary of the Newtown massacre in a peaceful way.
The members of ENOUGH stood in front of the Ferguson Library for about two hours, holding candles in the freezing cold, for what they called "Vigil of Hope, Remembering Gun Violence."
Organizer Marni Amsellem, of Stamford, said they were "all moved by what happened," on the morning of Dec. 14, 2012, when a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown and gunned down 20 young students and six educators. She called it a "senseless act of gun violence."
"We were founded in the aftermath of Sandy Hook," Amsellem said. "It's a grass-roots effort. We're all moms from around lower Fairfield County; we'd had enough and wanted to do something to make a difference."
The organization reaches out to people on social media and tries to keep them informed about gun violence, Amsellem said. Educating the public, she said, will bring about changes in the gun laws.
"It's not going to happen without people speaking out," Amsellem said. "We hear that from the lawmakers."
ENOUGH's position includes fighting for background checks on gun owners, upholding the gun laws in Connecticut and getting other states to pass sensible laws that keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
Wendy Skratt, another organizer, said she met the members of the group on a bus trip to Hartford, where they were marching against gun violence.
"I think it's really important to have events for like-minded people to come together and find each other," the Stamford woman said.
Skratt said ENOUGH shares information with other private anti-violence groups around the country, including San Francisco.
"Social media has made all the difference in coming together," she said. "But meeting people locally -- face to face -- is the best way."
One of the women, Dana Horowitz, of Stamford, knows firsthand how gun violence can affect someone's life. Her father, Bruce Horowitz, was brutally killed by a gunman in her hometown of Hamden in 1992.
Taking a break from the frigid weather, Horowitz stepped into the library for a few minutes to share her painful story. She said her father was a public insurance adjustor, who was meeting with a client and his boss.
"The estimate that was given to the guy for a kitchen fire, I think, wasn't to his liking," Horowitz explained. "So he took out a gun and shot my dad and my dad's boss. They both died on the spot."
Horowitz said 10 shots were fired at the two men, not leaving them much hope.
"I think one of the most important things to highlight is, he had the gun without a permit," she said.
Though the gunman fled the country, Horowitz said he eventually turned himself in and was charged with murder, manslaughter and carrying a weapon without a permit. The man is currently serving 65 years in prison.
Horowitz, who was in high school at the time, remembers being called to the principal's office, thinking she did something wrong. They assured her that she wasn't in trouble, then broke the news of her father's murder.
"When I hear about gun violence, it pains me for sure," she said. "I'm upset for the families. So many years have gone by and changes haven't been made."
After Sandy Hook, Horowitz said she felt more inclined to get involved. She recently wrote a piece for ENOUGH's website and will be reading her story in front of her congregation, Temple Beth El, on Saturday morning.
Members of ENOUGH said they wanted to hold the vigil in Stamford, in hopes of drawing attention away from residents at the epicenter of the shooting, so they'll have peace during this solemn milestone. As they gathered, they also wanted to remember the 30,000 adults and children lost to gun violence each year.
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Photo above: President Obama speaks in Hartford, CT.
Blossom Hill Photography