On Thursday morning, June 2, Wilton’s town, police and school officials gathered on the steps of Town Hall to proclaim June 3 as Gun Violence Awareness Day in Wilton.
It’s an unfortunate coincidence that National Gun Violence Awareness comes just two days after the most recent mass shooting in America, this time in a Tulsa hospital, when a gunman ended the lives of four people and injured several others. The day also follows the mass shooting one week ago at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX, where 19 9- and 10-year-old children and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old with an assault rifle. Just two weeks before the same scene played out in a Buffalo, NY supermarket leaving 10 local residents dead.
With First Selectwomen Lynne Vanderslice out with a back injury, Wilton Police Chief John Lynch led Thursday’s event where people wore orange to symbolize ending gun violence. Lynch said that despite some of the strongest gun laws in the country, Connecticut needs to do more legislatively.
“Too many of us have felt the pain and suffering reliving it with every new incident. Connecticut and the nation need to make common-sense changes. In some states, you’re not responsible enough, and it is illegal to purchase alcohol until you’re 21. However, you can buy an assault rifle at age 18. This makes no sense to many of us,” Lynch said.
Wilton Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Smith was also part of Thursday morning’s event.
“Since May 1st — May 1st! — there have been more than 60 mass shootings in which four or more people were shot and or killed. Think about that for a second — more than 60 in just the last month alone. We should not live in a country where children fear coming to school or parents fear sending their children to school,” Smith said.
Smith was superintendent of the Bethel School District in 2013 when the Sandy Hook school shooting in neighboring Newtown occurred.
“What I remember about that morning as the first wave of news came through, was feeling helpless. And so today here we are, again. Let’s not continue to feel helpless,” he said.
Saying that gun violence is preventable, Smith called for “substantial” legislative changes, including expanding background checks, gun purchase waiting periods, and banning sales of assault weapons and high capacity magazines to 18-year-olds.
“I’m proud to live in this town and to live in a state that has taken a strong stance against gun violence. But I join chief Lynch and many others like you, knowing that we can do much more,” he said.
The proclamation from First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice:
DECLARING JUNE 3, 2022 TO BE GUN VIOLENCE AWARENESS DAY IN WILTON
WHEREAS, according to 2020 data from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 45,222 individuals or 13.6 individuals per 100,000 in the United States and 219 or 6 individuals per 100,000 in Connecticut died from gun-related injuries; and
WHEREAS, 24,292 of those U.S. gun-related deaths were suicides, 25% more than 10 years prior; and
WHEREAS, 19,384 of those U.S. gun-related deaths were murders, 75% more than 10 years prior, and 79% of all murders in 2020 involved a gun, a percentage that was the highest since 1968, the oldest year for which the CDC provides online information; and
WHEREAS, 535 of those U.S. gun related deaths were unintentional; and
WHEREAS, the FBI reported 61 active shooter incidents in 2021, 58 or 4,462% more than 10 years prior; and
WHEREAS, protecting the public is our highest responsibility; and
WHEREAS, support for the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens goes hand-in-hand with gun safety; and
WHEREAS, we encourage responsible gun ownership to help keep our children and our residents safe; and
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that First Selectwoman Lynne A. Vanderslice of the Town of Wilton declares June 3, 2022, to be National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Residents are encouraged to reflect on the statistics and consider actions to reduce gun violence. In addition, to remember those whose lives were cut short or were injured by gun violence, residents are encouraged to Wear Orange on June 3 or 4 or 5, a color that symbolizes the value of human life.
Lynne A Vanderslice
(Data Sources: CDC and Pew Research)