As the crowd quieted, the names of those who have been killed by gun violence echoed through the packed Fairview High School parking lot. An anonymous soul tried to shout alongside, but their voice cracked with the emotional strain of reliving one of their most traumatic experiences and they were barely heard over the blowing wind.
On Thursday evening, March 25, hundreds of people gathered in the Fairview High School parking lot to mourn the death of ten people who were killed by a shooter in a Boulder King Soopers.
Such tragedies are what Moms Demand Action, the organizers of this event, seeks to eliminate. The grassroots, bipartisan gun reform organization hosted a vigil to honor the ten men and women killed on Monday. Speakers included community religious representatives and U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse.
Also present was Boulder City Council Member Rachel Friend. Friend has been active with Moms Demand Action since 2011 following the attempted assassination of former Arizona representative Gabrielle Giffords.
“It just broke my heart that an 11-year-old who wanted to go and meet her congressperson got killed,” Friend said.
Friend supported the assault weapons ban even before her election to the city council. Ten days before the shooting, a judge blocked the ban. Friend said that the ban was designed around preventing “exactly the sort of tragedy that happened (Monday).”
The problems Boulder, and the nation, face run far deeper than just local gun measures. Christina Gardner is a Boulder resident who has been an active member and leader of Moms Demand Action for the past three years.
“On the federal level, there has not been a federal bill for gun safety in 25 years,” Gardner said. “We need federal action.”
Two weeks ago, the House passed a pair of bills that expand and strengthen background checks for gun buyers. The bill faces stiff Senate opposition, however, as Republicans have resisted stricter gun laws for years.
Representative Joe Neguse was one of the representatives to vote “yea” on the two bills. Neguse’s platform stressed community safety and common-sense gun laws.
“We’re a kind and compassionate community that is coming together to support one another during a difficult time,” Neguse said.
The turnout at Fairview moved Neguse. He said that the crowd he saw was the most moving part of his time at the vigil.
“But we’re also a community that demands change,” he concluded, vowing to continue leading the charge for federal gun law reform.
Boulder Rabbi Fred Greene was also present at the vigil. Greene is a member of Congregation Har HaShem and offered a re-examination of a classical Hebrew saying. The original translation says, “You must not be indifferent.”
“That is not my translation,” Greene said. “This means that you cannot hide yourself, cannot disappear.”
Greene asked the crowd to not turn their anger towards Muslim Americans, as the U.S. has done in the past. He pointed out that one man’s heinous act of violence does not entitle us to target an entire population.
He went on to say that Boulder needs time to stretch and create a brave little space. This space where the community can be more vulnerable with one another, and vent frustrations, grief and anger.
“Focus on responsibility to one another,” Greene concluded.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Alexander Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org.