West Chester residents rally for gun violence protection

This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
Residents marched around the streets of West Chester on Thursday morning to raise awareness of gun violence and to support background checks for every person when purchasing a firearm. (Candice Monhollan)

Residents marched around the streets of West Chester on Thursday morning to raise awareness of gun violence and to support background checks for every person when purchasing a firearm. (Candice Monhollan)

WEST CHESTER — People in orange were marching around the streets of West Chester Thursday morning as part of the national Gun Violence Awareness Day.

Even more so because, as of a proclamation unanimously approved by the borough council and read aloud by Mayor Carolyn Comitta, June 2 is Gun Violence Protection Day in West Chester.

“We need your voices — we need all the voices on gun violence protection,” said Comitta, a Democrat who is running for state representative against incumbent state Rep. Dan Truitt, R-156, of East Goshen. “It’s all about keeping our children, our families and our communities safe.”

Residents gathered at the steps of the old courthouse, decked in orange, and carried signs promoting background checks and to put a stop to senseless gun violence.

…[Please continue the story on the Daily Local News website by clicking here.]

The group marched around the downtown portion of the borough and ended at the municipal building for a news conference.

“There is no place safe, and that has been my mantra for a while,” said Tom Buglio, of the Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence. “Gun violence can happen anywhere. Statistics are sobering, but can be numbing as well — 1,300 Pennsylvanians, on average, die every year to gun violence and 33,000 Americans are killed with firearms every year.

“It happens so often that it has tragically become a part of the fabric of American life. We’re here to say that this cannot stand. This needs to change. We can and must make our country safer so that fewer people experience the tragedy of gun violence, which has such a devastating effect on the victim, their families and friends.”

On hand for the event were a mother and daughter who lost a family member in July 2012 from gun violence.

“My brother was murdered on July 2, 2012, in Coatesville,” said Jataja Davis. “The loss of my brother has affected me tremendously. He was my best friend and my biggest support system. It’s devastating because I’m about to have the biggest day of my life – I’m getting married and my brother is not going to be there.”

To help raise awareness and in memory of their loved one lost, they host an annual Walk for Peace, raising money to go to a memorial fund in his name, which helps benefit the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County.

“My life has never been the same,” said Sherry Davis, the mother. “It will be four years next month. We have to stop the gun violence and parents and adults need to speak out when they know something so this can stop. It affects everyone’s lives. You manage and cope, but you can’t get them back. It’s a void in my life now.”

Buglio informed the gathered crowd that, since the Sandy Hook massacre in December 2012, there have been over 100 school shootings, including the one which just took place at UCLA on Wednesday.

Also in attendance was Sarah Missett, of the West Chester Area School District, who is part of the team which prepares for such horrific scenarios.

“We have a team that meets regularly with each other to plan, to prepare and to prevent any type of violence that might happen in school,” she said. “We work constantly with our police departments to make sure we know what to do in case there is an active shooter in one of our schools. We dread this day. We don’t even want to think about this day, but we need to think about this day. We need to plan.”

Having the 12th largest district in the commonwealth with 16 schools, Missett stressed the importance of the systems it has in place in all or the majority of the schools.

Every building has all of its doors locked once school opens and every office is equipped with a system which allows a visitor’s license to be scanned to automatically check for a criminal record. Anyone with a record — regardless of who he or she is — is not permitted in the building.

Also, 12 of the 16 schools have a vestibule-type of an area between the main entrance and the inside of the school where office workers can see visitors before actually entering into the school itself.

The remaining schools will have the vestibules installed when renovated.

Susan Rzucidlo, a Democrat running for the 158th legislative district against Republican Eric Roe, finished out the conference when she spoke about the importance of passing the proper legislation to ensure every single person must submit to a criminal background check when purchasing a firearm.

“Is it OK if it’s your son, your daughter, your mother, or your father that is a victim of a gun sold without a background check? Is it OK for anyone of our police officers, local or state, who put their lives on the line every day to be lost because a gun was sold without a background check?” she asked the crowd. “No. We can’t stand for this. We need to put legislators in Harrisburg and we need to tell our legislators that what we want are mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every gun sale at every gun show and every individual. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”

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Categories: Community, Crime

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