GREENWICH, Conn. -- As a blur of bike riders dressed in green blazed past Greenwich Town Hall early Saturday afternoon, more than a hundred supporters stood by watching, cheering, and holding signs bearing messages from “Hugs Not slugs” to “Together We Can End Gun Violence.”
The ride set out Saturday from Newtown, and the rally in Greenwich was just the third of about 13 over the three-day event. The 26 advocates for common sense gun laws are riding from Newtown -- at about 18 mph -- to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
After a stop earlier on Saturday in Ridgefield, they were greeted in Greenwich by top Connecticut brass, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District).
Since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on Dec. 12 2012, “Team 26” has made the trip of more than 400 miles to send a message to Congress and in memory of the 26 victims of gun violence.
“If anything good can come of [the Sandy Hook shootings], it is this,” Wyman said. “Every child, every person should be protected, should be protected from gun violence.”
Himes lamented the lack of action on gun control laws at the federal level.
“Every week you see it in newspapers… violence because of the profusion of guns in this country, and the Congress has done nothing,” Himes said, noting his feeling of ambivalence in attending the rally.
In years past, Himes has taken part in the first leg of the Ride on Washington. He joked that his lack of participation this year was due to the snowy conditions riders faced Saturday.
“While it is a privilege to serve in [Congress], it is I think a great tragedy, a crime even, that the Representatives of the United States have not listened to the tragedy that has arisen,” Himes added.
Team 26’s mission is a national one, but the spotlight was on Connecticut, where state representatives raised awareness on three proposed gun law bills currently in the state House of Representatives.
One bill in Saturday’s conversation was one proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy that would revoke firearms, without a judge's ruling, within 24 hours for someone given a temporary restraining order. The idea is to protect victims of domestic violence who often fall victim to gun violence even after protective orders are issued, according to Suzanne Adams, director of Greenwich’s YWCA Domestic Abuse Services.
Local leaders, such as Adams, took turns at the mic to spread awareness, reflect on tragedy and promise to do better, while Team 26 stood by in solemn support.
Team 26 leader Monte Frank summed up the cause.
“We are your bike messengers, we ride for you,” Frank said. “We ride to make sure that the shootings in [Newtown] on 12/14 don’t fade into the national memory. We ride to honor them, and all victims of gun violence and in the movement to unite Americans to reduce the risk of gun violence.”
For more information on the Sandy Hook Ride On Washington, visit the group's website . They will arrive in Washington on Tuesday.
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