Vigil at Lake Place held in memory of gun victimsA vigil in memory of the Tucson shooting victims was held in the late afternoon on Sunday, Jan. 8, in Duluth. It was the one-year anniversary of the tragedy where 18 people were injured and 6 died from gunshot wounds during Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords’ “Congress on your corner” event at a Tucson shopping center.
By: Naomi Yaeger, Duluth Budgeteer News
A vigil in memory of the Tucson shooting victims was held in the late afternoon on Sunday, Jan. 8, in Duluth. It was the one-year anniversary of the tragedy where 18 people were injured and 6 died from gunshot wounds during Arizona Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords’ “Congress on your corner” event at a Tucson shopping center.
Organizers estimate that 70 to 75 people showed up for the vigil at the corner of Lake Avenue and Superior Street. Thirty-two LED candles were lit in memory of the 32 gun homicides that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates occur each day in the United States due to gun violence.
The event was sponsored by the Northland Protect Minnesota/Brady Campaign and the Peace UCC Church Just Peace Committee.
“It was one of about 70 (vigils) that were held across the country,” said Joan A. Peterson, co-president of the Northland Chapter of the Brady Campaign. “It was the one-year anniversary of the Tucson shootings, and we wanted to call attention to the victims of gun violence.
“As always we want to call attention to the fact that we have too many victims,” Peterson added. “There are laws languishing in Congress and nothing happens. We have a national public health problem,” Peterson said.
According to the Violence Policy Center, “Between 2000 and 2008, a total of 272,590 people died of gunshot injuries in the United States. This averages out to about 30,288 gun deaths per year, a number shocking by comparison to any other developed country.”
According to the Medical School at the University of Utah, the number of nonfatal injuries is considerable – more than 200,000 per year in the U.S. Many of these injuries require hospitalization and trauma care.
A 1994 study revealed the cost per injury requiring admission to a trauma center was over $14,000. The cumulative lifetime cost in 1985 for gunshot wounds was estimated to be $911 million, with $13.4 billion in lost productivity.
Peterson said those who are shot but do survive have lifelong disabilities, which have emotional and physical costs.
At the vigil, people read aloud the names of the Tucson shooting victims and rang a bell once for each of them. Some rang the bell for family members or others they knew who had died due from gunshot wounds. Don Streufert held the large bell that attendees rang by pulling on a leather strap attached to the bell’s clapper. Streufert’s daughter Carin was murdered with a gun over 20 years ago. His wife Mary, Carin’s mother, is also co-president of the Northland Chapter of the Brady Campaign.
Duluth’s Deputy Police Chief John Beyer rang the bell in memory of Lake City police officer Shawn Schneider, whose funeral was held on Saturday, Jan. 7. Officer Schneider was slain during a domestic violence incident involving a handgun.
Peterson said that ringing the bell and saying the victims’ names out loud in public makes the issue real for others. She added, “Whenever we hold a bell-ringing, it becomes a powerful event for people who ring the bell. One woman rang a bell for an uncle who died over 30 years ago. It’s a powerful thing to say the name of a person who died and do something like ring a bell or light a candle. I had a woman who said that when she rang the bell it felt like her sister was there.”
Peterson said that whenever she hears the bell ring, she thinks of the movie “A Wonderful Life” where the little girl says, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.
“I thought it was moving and appropriate and at the same time uplifting and discouraging because so many people are affected by violence,” Mary said. “So frequently people forget. People forget that when a person is shot that they might have a mother, a father, a spouse, children and those people are forever affected by that violence.”