Traverse City Activists, Religious Leaders Mourn Victims of Gun Violence

It’s been a year and a day since 17 people lost their life at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland Florida.

And Friday, a gunman opened fire at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois.

Friday night, the Grace Episcopal Church in Traverse City held a vigil to honor those victims.  17 candles burned, one for every victim of the Parkland attack.

Religious speakers and gun-sense activists spoke at the event.

“As a priest, I feel it’s important to speak where the church has a space to speak and to create space for silence where reflection is needed most,” said Reverend Jodi Baron, of St. Phillips Episcopal in Beulah.

Meredith Fritz leads the Traverse City chapter of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots, anti-gun violence organization.

“We support the second amendment and we support responsible gun ownership, we just want to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people,” said Fritz. “So many of these shootings could have been prevented. We’re not anti-gun people, we’re anti-gun-violence.”

Fritz says sometimes she worries that people fear she is going to “take their guns away”. Fritz says she doesn’t want that, and speaks about what she calls “gun sense” and seeks reform that keeps people and schools safer.

Steve Hallmark supports her mission. As a Vietnam vet, he knows guns well. In the army, he was required to sign in and out for weapons from the armory. And every bullet had to be accounted for.

Hallmark wants to see automatic weapon purchase require more training and limits on who can buy them.

“I’m very, very knowledgeable in the damage, danger and serious consequences of gun violence,” said Hallmark.  “[The army] took weapons very seriously because they’re very dangerous. I have no reason to believe … [violent gunman with automatic weapons] have had anything like the training that ought to go with weapons like this.”

Moms Demand Action is always looking for new members. To join, reach out on their Facebook page.