By Jonathan Lemire
Some carried photos of loved ones cut down by a bullet. Others held signs imploring Congress to act. And nearly all shouted out "Not one more," a tear-stained rallying cry embraced by those who believe the U.S. needs tougher gun control laws.
More than 1,000 demonstrators — including nearly 100 from Newtown, Connecticut, the site of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting rampage — marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday, demanding that action be taken to stem the recent wave of mass shootings across the U.S.
"I want to see our laws protect our children, not our gun lobbyists," said Andrew Morosky, 48, who lives in Newtown and whose children were friends with some of the 20 students who were killed along with six educators. "After what happened, I felt like I had to do something. I sat on the sidelines for too long."
The event was organized by several groups — including Moms Demand Action, Everytown For Gun Safety and Mayors Against Illegal Guns — which are all funded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The billionaire Bloomberg, who was not in attendance, has become one of the nation's most visible gun control advocates and has pumped millions of his own money into the cause.
The rally began in downtown Brooklyn, where many chanted "Not one more," the cry uttered by Richard Martinez, whose son Christopher was shot to death in Santa Barbara, California, last month.
"We have to stop the madness," said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. "Too many people have died, and too many lobbyists have lied."
As the marchers slowly moved across the bridge toward Manhattan, many carried signs that read "Enough is Enough" and "Why are our kids dying while Congress does nothing?" Several dozen cars driving on the busy bridge beeped their horns in approval.
Shannon Watts, who organized the group Moms Demand Action; Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn Hochspring, was slain at Sandy Hook; and actress Amanda Peet urged the crowd to bombard their elected officials with requests for stricter firearms restrictions. The cheers from crowd, which ended the march with a rally outside City Hall, were occasionally interrupted by shouts about the right to bear arms from a lone counter-protester.
Requests for comment by the National Rifle Association, the nation's largest gun rights lobbying group, were not immediately returned.
Actor Adam Scott said a week ago in Los Angeles that his son had to be sheltered in a home because a man was spotted wandering around with an assault rifle.
"It was right on the street where he was playing. Right on the same street," Scott said. "I just don't want this to become a routine that my kids have to grow up and get used to."
Efforts to change federal laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting failed, though a few states toughened their own regulations. A few states actually loosened their gun rules.
A man killed six University of California, Santa Barbara students — three were stabbed to death and three were fatally shot, including Christopher Martinez — and then killed himself on May 23. On Tuesday, a freshman shot and killed a 14-year-old at an Oregon high school and injured a teacher before taking his own life.