Gun reform advocates set up at Sidewalk Sales

Surrounded by her children, Owen, Sophia and Jackson, Ridgefield’s Lisa Ruscitti, signs the petition urging the Board of Selectmen to join with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. At left, Dan Edelstein and Pat Knight collect the signatures. — Ken Borsuk photo

Surrounded by her children, Owen, Sophia and Jackson, Ridgefield’s Lisa Ruscitti, signs the petition urging the Board of Selectmen to join with Mayors Against Illegal Guns. At left, Dan Edelstein and Pat Knight collect the signatures.
— Ken Borsuk photo

The Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence will be at the sale from Friday through Sunday to bring attention to its “Not One More” card campaign. The effort is inspired by the recent mass shooting in Isla Vista, Calif., where Richard Martinez, whose son was killed, told the media afterwards, “We don’t have to live like this. Too many have died. We should say, ‘Not one more.’”

Mr. Martinez then urged people to send postcards to any politician they could think of with “Not one more” written on it and Jonathan Perloe, a founding member of the alliance, said that spurred the group to act. So it has teamed up with local gun law reform groups The Enough Campaign and the Brady Chapter of Southwestern Connecticut to try and send at least 1,000 postcards with the phrase written on it to the U.S. senators who voted against the Manchin-Toomey universal background check bill.

That bill had bipartisan support in the Senate, as it was written by Democratic Sen. Joseph Manchin from West Virginia and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania, and had the strong backing of Connecticut’s Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy. However, it could not overcome a Republican-led filibuster and did not move forward despite poll numbers that showed nationwide Americans support universal background checks that would close a loophole allowing for gun shows to sell guns without any kind of background check of the buyer first.

With elections in November and the majority leadership of the Senate very much in play, it is not expected that this bill or any other gun law reform measure will be brought up in the coming months. However, grass-roots efforts to sway politicians and force a new vote have been ongoing and The Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence has been a key driver in the area.

“To show Congress there is broad support for common-sense gun safety laws we asked supporters to make it personal by taking photos of themselves holding, ‘Not One More’ and ‘I Vote #GunSafety’ signs,” Mr. Perloe said in a press release. “We need to keep the pressure on Congress to act. By helping the community make its voice heard, we are creating unstoppable momentum towards our goal of closing loopholes in federal background checks.”

Now the effort is coming to the Sidewalk Sales. The council will have a table set up outside the Board of Education building on Greenwich Avenue starting Friday, July 11, at 3 p.m. It will then be outside on Saturday from 10 to 5 and Sunday from 11 to 5 as it will be looking to get people to sign the postcards. This effort is not without precedent as the council, which was formed by Greenwich resident Elizabeth Perry in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, was at last year’s sale as well asking for signatures to urge Greenwich to sign onto the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

The effort not only was successful as the Board of Selectmen approved joining last August, but it spurred Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which serves as a lobbying group to promote gun law reform and close loopholes in existing laws while taking a tougher stance on weapons trafficking, to change its own laws to allow towns like Greenwich, with first selectmen and not mayors, to join. Now the council, which has also held rallies on Greenwich Avenue and set up tables to get people to sign holiday cards for members of Congress last December, is coming back to again spur public involvement.

Mr. Perloe said that people will have the chance to offer personalized messages on the card if they wish and that his conversations with Mr. Blumenthal, Mr. Murphy and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, have told him that cards like these with real signatures on them are far more effective than emails could ever be. He told the Post that the council is hopeful for a good response based on past success.

“People are sometimes a little wary at first because they think we’re trying to sell them something but when they hear what we’re about and what we’re trying to do they want to get involved,” Mr. Perloe said. “I think people want the opportunity to make their voices heard on this issue. The response that we’ve been getting has been very positive.”

More information is available online at Facebook.com/GreenwichCouncilAgainstGunViolence.

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