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In the wake of a devastating Florida shooting that left 17 people dead, a local group is organizing buses to send people to an event at the end of the month in Springfield focused on passing gun control legislation.
The event is being organized by the Illinois chapter of Moms Demand Action, a group which advocates for common-sense gun reform, and will help in the group’s continued efforts to pass a gun dealer licensing law in the state, chapter leader Lauren Quinn said. A vote on the bill could happen any time in the spring, she said, but it is up to lawmakers when that happens.
Quinn said the day will start with a training on how to talk to legislators, and then people will break up into small groups and meet with legislators that are there on that day. She said the event will allow for the approximately 25 affiliated Moms Demand Action groups throughout the state to come together.
“We have a lot of local groups throughout the state and we don’t often get together in one place, and so it’s a nice way to get the whole chapter together and meet each other and be in a like-minded situation,” Quinn said.
Nina Kavin, the co-founder of Dear Evanston — a Facebook page that discusses inequity and racial issues in the city — said she saw the event, which was created before the shooting, on Facebook a couple weeks ago and put it in her calendar, intending to go on her own. After 20-year-old Evanston Township High School graduate Yakez Semark was killed last Thursday, she said she thought about tangible steps she could take to mobilize the community.
Following the events in Florida on Wednesday, Kavin said she’d “had it,” and began organizing a group to get people onto buses for the event. She emphasized that it is really important for people to leave their individual homes where they feel sad, helpless and powerless and to build community with people who care about the same issues.
“We have to do something as a community as an action,” Kavin said. “It can’t just be posting and sharing posts and having condolences … if we don’t go a step further, then none of it is worth anything.”
Two of the people joining Kavin to plan the travel are Evan Finamore and Kathleen Long, who worked with her in January 2017 to organize buses to Washington D.C. for the first women’s march.
The pair said that when Kavin reached out to them about organizing the Springfield event, they were immediately on board.
“We just can’t let another time pass where it’s the important news for about 36 hours and then it begins to fade into this tapestry that is unfortunately becoming the fabric of our country,” Finamore said. “It’s filled with all of these needless deaths at the hands of people with guns.”
Kavin said the preliminary estimate for a bus ticket is about $50, but that she hopes to offer discounts and free tickets for people who want to attend, but can’t afford to. The bus will likely leave at about 5:30 a.m. from somewhere in Evanston and return at about 7 p.m., she said.
Both Kavin and Quinn stressed that even though the event is organized by Moms Demand Action, it isn’t just for moms, but rather for everyone who is concerned with gun violence in America.
“We would like to get as many buses as we can, as diverse as we can,” Kavin said. “It’s for moms, it’s for dads, it’s for single people. Every race, color, culture — it should matter to everybody.”
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