Judy Sherry grabbed a microphone, looked into a crowd of nearly three dozen people gathered near the J.C. Nichols Fountain, and delivered a speech on gun violence.
In it, Sherry — president of the Kansas City chapter of Grandparents Against Gun Violence — touched on something lost in the four years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy in Newtown, Conn.
There have been, according to Sherry, 120,000 people killed by gun violence since a gunman shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Dec. 14, 2012. The victims included 20 children.
Sherry and other members of Grandparents Against Gun Violence braved Wednesday’s cold to host a vigil in remembrance of the shooting and to take a stand against gun violence.
The group was joined by members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Both groups expressed concern about the number of gun-related deaths in the country, especially locally.
In the Kansas City metro area, there have been 190 homicides so far in 2016. Most of them have involved guns. Of those 190 deaths, at least 12 were children under the age of 17. Eight of them died because of gun violence.
To reduce those numbers, Sherry said, it takes collaboration between concerned citizens, law enforcement, lawmakers, businesses and the educational sector.
“We have our work cut out for us,” she said.
The vigil included a speech from longtime community advocate Alvin Brooks, formerly of the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. Brooks reminded the crowd that gun violence is a communitywide issue.
“We don’t want these things to continue to happen,” he said.
Before Sherry concluded, she reiterated a similar message: Responsible, common-sense gun laws can be achieved.
“We are not against guns,” Sherry said. “We are against gun violence.”