"There's a lot of noise behind legislation," said Stamford's Kate Urbank. "So that's what we need to do right now. Make a lot of noise."
Urbank is a member of the Democratic City Committee, though she wears a great many hats around Stamford and is active in a number of organizations. She joined more than 100 others from a variety of networks Monday night at the First Congregational Church of Stamford for a meeting of the Fairfield County Stand Against Violence Effectively movement.
The Interfaith Council, who hosted the meeting, represents members from Connecticut communities in Norwalk, New Canaan, Darien, Stamford and Greenwich. Urbank summed up the idea behind the meeting succinctly.
Everyone there was desiring of change, specifically change aimed at gun violence and related legislation in their state and beyond. Members from One Million Moms, March for Change and the NAACP joined with Stamford police and government officials on the city and state level to discuss what comes next.
"The heinous tragedy of Newtown has galvanized people in the secular world and people of faith to work together to end violence," said St. Francis Episcopal Church's Rev. Mark Lingle, vice president of the council. "It has left everyone desirous of a just and peaceful world. We're here tonight to discuss what we can do legislatively to bring about meaningful change. We want to reduce the violence in our country, specifically gun violence."
Interfaith Executive Director Kate Heichler echoed those sentiments and said she hoped the meeting would serve to motivate the group for action, like the Feb. 14 march currently being organized. Groups are planning to take buses from Stamford to march in honor of those lost in the Sandy Hook tragedy.
"We are trying to take another step forward," Heichler said. "We aim to pass some common-sense legislation. One of the things to come out of this tragedy is that we seem to be ready to talk about gun legislation. And not about taking them away but about how we get them and why we use them. I hope people leave feeling mobilized and connected."
Rob Pinciaro, of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, heralded Connecticut's rank as one of the most progressively legislated states in the nation but said there was still so much more he hoped the group could accomplish in making Connecticut safer when it came to firearms.
"This state has the fourth-strongest gun laws in the nation," he said. "There are more strict laws on the books here than, in most cases, there are in other states."
Pinciaro said the state must study and approach the gun issue in two ways. First, as a regulation of guns and second, as an examination of the "increasing lethality" of those guns.
"There are over 300 million guns in the USA," said Pinciaro. "And there are groups out there trying to convince people their freedom, safety and rights depend on a gun on every nightstand, in every glove compartment and in every purse and they're trying to convince elected officials not to oppose them. I understand an individuals right to bear arms...but you can not tell me that guns are not the problem."
Pinciaro hopes to accomplish the following with the strength of the newest movements joining forces:
- Strengthen the assault weapon ban.
- Ban large capacity magazines of more than 10 rounds.
- universal background checks for all sales and transfers, including long guns
Officials present at the event included Public Safety Director Ted Jankowski, state Senator Carlo Leone and state Representatives William Tong and Gerald Fox III. Leone took a strong stance when addressing the crowd.
"What I would like to see is for Connecticut to become a leader because of what has happened in our own state," the Senator said. "I don't want to be third or fourth. I want to be first."