Newtown Shooting Anniversary Draws Protests in Atlanta

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ATLANTA—Outside Republican Senator Johnny Isakson’s office, Terry Gathings had the unenviable job of telling a group of elderly protesters they had to move out of the only shade and into the sun on an 85-degree day.

 “I’ll be 86 years old this August, and you are going to tell me I can’t stand under a tree?” asked Doris Benit, wearing a ‘Grandmothers for Peace’ T-shirt.

Gathings, an employee of the office building, told the group of about 30 people that they could not block sidewalk traffic and had to move from private property to the roadside. After some heckling, they did, and held signs asking drivers to honk if they favored gun control.  Many did honk.

 On the six-month anniversary of the Newtown Connecticut school shootings, new gun control legislation appears dead in the Senate. 

 No one was available to discuss the protesters or gun legislation at Isakson’s office, but a staff member emailed a statement:

 “Senator Isakson respects the First Amendment rights of all citizens to make their voices heard and appreciates feedback from Georgia constituents. Please find his position on the legislation below.

 I am not interested in reopening the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation. Nothing has changed from my No vote on April 17.”

 Piyali Cole of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America said, “Gun control is not a partisan issue. It’s about keeping guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to others and themselves.”

Her voice shook as she evoked the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. “It’s heartbreaking. We cannot do anything more for those 27 victims,” she said.

 Cole and others want background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and online. A loophole in current law allows felons and people with a history of mental illness, who would not be eligible for a firearms license, to buy weapons at gun shows. They also want limitations on assault weapons and on ammunition purchases.

“The common threads running through these shootings are mental health issues. I believe that more effective and sensible solutions are those that focus on background checks and mental health care, rather than restrictions on our Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Isakson stated in a Jan. 16 news release.

Speaking of mental health, Kimberly Brusk said her former husband had a history of mental illness, but was still able to get a shotgun. She held up a 12-inch circle of poster board to indicate the size of the hole he blasted through her front door the night he tried to kill her. “It was too easy for my husband to get a gun,” she said.

 People whose friends or relatives had been shot to death also spoke to the small group.

 A stranger shot Lucy McBath’s son to death in a public place. “What happened to my son could happen anywhere,” she said. “No one should feel my pain. That’s why I’m here, to ask Senator Isakson to change his vote.”


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