US president attends candlelight vigil honoring victims of gun violence
Dec 08, 2022 - 06:15 AM
WASHINGTON (AA) – An annual national vigil for gun violence victims was held Wednesday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., with President Joe Biden joining families and survivors impacted by gun violence.
Biden, who has become the first president to attend the vigil, thanked those present for their bravery, saying: “Your voices matter.”
“We’ve seen you turn pain into purpose,” he told the families and survivors. “Together, we made some important progress.”
Although he said progress had been made with gun violence laws in 30 years, “it’s still not enough.”
One hundred fifty families, survivors, students and advocates from towns and cities in 22 states attended the vigil, which is now in its 10th year, demanding an end to gun violence and honoring those who have fallen victim to guns.
Among them, Jackie Haggerty, 17, a survivor of the Dec. 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, who spoke at the vigil, said guns are now the number one killer of children in America.
“We were asked to be brave while hiding under our desks in our classrooms,” she said, recalling the shooting at school, adding that “too many of our elected officials lack the courage to pass commonsense gun laws.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also attended the national vigil along with a congressional delegation.
The candlelight vigil, organized by the Newtown Action Alliance Foundation (NAAF) and more than 100 other partners working to prevent gun violence, was held ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children between the ages of six and seven.
Over a million people have been killed by guns in the US in 32 years, according to a study published by the JAMA Network Open medical journal on Tuesday.
From a low in 2004, US fatality rates from firearms soared 45.5% as of 2021, the study showed.