BRUNSWICK — This December marks the fifth anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 children and six educators were tragically killed. All around the country, from Dec. 6-17, gun safety groups are remembering the tragedy with a concerted campaign to End Gun Violence (search #EndGunViolence on social media).

On Thursday, Dec. 14, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick will host an evening gathering, beginning at 5 p.m. The event will include music and remarks by Rev. Sylvia Stocker; artist and congregant Ed McCartan; organizer Pat Moore; and local Maine Moms Demand Action member Lisa Ledwidge. The service will be followed by a candlelight vigil, outdoors if weather permits.

Organizer Moore says it’s time for remembrance, and for action.

“Thoughts and prayers have not stopped the bullets,” she said. “We need action. Sandy Hook was not the first or the last shooting, but those particular images will always remain with us.”

Organizations like The Brady Campaign, Everytown Survivor Network, Faiths United, and the national Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are involved in organizing the #EndGunViolence campaign. Here in Maine, the local Moms Demand Action chapter is co-sponsoring the Brunswick vigil.

Lisa Ledwidge, of Bath, a member of Maine Moms for three years, has worked with the group in preventing the Maine legislature from passing a law that would force college campuses to allow students to carry firearms. She also worked on the 2016 referendum that would have ensured that every person buying a firearm in Maine undergoes a background check. That initiative failed at the ballot box.

“The shooting at Sandy Hook five years ago was a wake-up call for millions of people who are fed up with the gun lobby’s extreme, ‘guns everywhere’ agenda,” Ledwidge said. “On the 14th, we will gather to remember the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook, and to commit to actions that will help prevent gun violence in our own communities.”

Ledwidge says there are many ways to make guns and gun ownership safer.

“Things like universal background checks — no loopholes — and keeping guns off our college campuses are pretty effective ways to make a difference, and that’s what I will talk about at the remembrance. The Second Amendment does not imply unlimited, unfettered access to weapons. Improving gun safety is tangible.”

Artist and UU congregant (and summer minister at Popham Chapel) Ed McCartan will speak to the human suffering of gun violence.

“Most good people I know wonder how long it will take for sane and effective policies to be established for the sale of heavy, combat-like weapons, as we now see, without background checks or reasonable safeguards,” McCartan said.

“We hope and pray that our political leaders will not continue to be controlled by the power and the money of the NRA. We do not wish to be numbed to the loss of loved ones, children, innocents, because no one takes seriously the call of those who grieve.”

Candles will be lit at the service for each life lost in Newtown, and if the weather permits, a candle light vigil will take place outside the church following the service. All are welcome.
Music at the event will feature Hugh Maynard on oboe and Kate Gray on violin.

For information on more events around the state and country, visit www.newtownfoundation.org.
For more information on Maine Moms Demand Action, visit www.momsdemandaction.org and click “join us,” to be connected with the Maine chapter.