Small crowd rallies in Minneapolis to decry gun violence

  • Article by: NICOLE NORFLEET , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 14, 2012 - 10:40 PM

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As people around the country mourned Friday's shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, a Minnesota nonprofit rallied the local community and called for action to prevent gun violence.

On Friday night, about 35 residents and activists gathered at Martin Luther King Park in south Minneapolis to voice their frustration and sorrow over the senseless shootings.

The rally was called after the killings of 26 people, including 20 children, when an armed man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The 20-year-old shooter had killed his mother, who taught at the school, before going on the rampage. He ended up committing suicide at the school.

The Friday morning shooting was the country's second-deadliest school shooting only following the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, which left 33 people dead.

"We can't sit back," said Heather Martens, executive director of Protect Minnesota: Working to End Gun Violence.

While some politicians had said earlier in the day that they didn't believe it was appropriate to talk about gun control so soon after the shootings, Martens asked the small crowd during the rally, "If not today, when?"

According to the group, more than 7,000 Minnesotans died of gunshot wounds from 1989 to 2010.

To combat gun violence, Protect Minnesota advocates that background checks should be required for anyone buying a handgun or assault weapon, not just when the seller is federally licensed. It also suggests that gun owners store firearms securely.

During the small rally, attendees held hands and uttered prayers as well as yelled out.

"We all need to collectively stand up and take action," said Minneapolis resident John Kohring, 66, who went to the rally with signs in tow.

Kohring dedicates a couple of hours a week to standing at busy intersections throughout the city holding a sign that reads "Guns are not the answer." He said he began the ritual this year in an effort to get people to think more about gun violence.

Friday's tragedy showed that the issue isn't isolated to one neighborhood or one city, Kohring said.

"We've got to say, 'This is enough,'" he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495; Twitter: @stribnorfleet

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