In holding a free and open to the public gun violence prevention program, the National Council of Jewish Women-Peninsula Section believes it is creating an opportunity for all community members to listen and learn on how to transform tragedies into positive actions.
Along with organizing this type of forum, Bonnie Sperry said that the Peninsula Section has formed a small, separate group that is focusing on advocacy to help protect people from gun violence.
“With everything going on in our country lately, the mass shootings, it was important to bring people with experience with this type of tragedy that have turned it and made a positive change,” said Sperry, the section administrator for NCJW-Peninsula Section.
The NCJW will host the program beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14 at the Hewlett-East Rockaway Jewish Centre at 295 Main Street in East Rockaway.
Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was shot and killed during the mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School is one of the speakers. She is the founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, a nonprofit organization that aims to train students and adults to recognize the signs of gun violence to reduce such incidents.
Also speaking is Jeffrey Kasky, a parent whose two children survived the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He is the president of Families vs. Assault Rifles PAC Inc. He describes the political action committee as nonpartisan and not anti-gun. His son, Cameron, is the founder of the March for Our Lives movement.
Gun deaths in the United States rose in 2016 to roughly 12 per 100,000 people, up from 11 per 100,000 in 2015, according to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention released in 2017, after a several-year period of a relative stable rate.
“The reason this is so important,” Kasky said regarding have gun violence prevention programs, “is up to the shooting at Parkland all we got from politicians was hopes and prayers, and that is not good enough. When Nicole’s son was murdered at Sandy Hook, the survivors were too young to become activists. Parkland is exactly what we need to change the world.”
Sperry said that the NCJW believes that this topic was too important to have as a just a members only event. “It’s not a simple problem, it’s not an adult program, it’s a human problem,” she said, adding that advocating for violence prevention meshes with the organization’s prime mission of helping to protect the rights of women and children.
NY Moms Demand Action, a group that wants legislators, state and federal; companies; and educational institutions to establish common-sense gun reforms, will distribute its literature. “We’re very focused on the upcoming elections,” said spokeswoman Laura Burns, adding that their “an epidemic of gun violence in America. Our goal is to elect candidates who have pledged for common send gun legislation in office.”
As Kasky noted young people are leading the way. The March for Our Lives movement, Cameron founded staged a student-led demonstration in Washington, D.C. on March 24 of this year, and touched off smaller rallies across the nation on the same day and individual school events, including ones at the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, Hewlett and Lawrence high schools on March 14.
“We need to make acceptance of NRA (National Rifle Association) money a shame and a scarlet letter and an A rating from them an embarrassment,” Kasky said, quoting his son.