A national nonprofit is organizing candlelight vigils across the country, including one in Pittsburgh, to honor the 20 children who lost their lives last year in Newtown, Conn.
On Saturday, Organizing for Action will host “Remembering Newtown—A Candlelight Vigil” at Heinz Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh Campus at 6:30 p.m.
Since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, nearly 200 children under the age of 12 have been killed in gun accidents, homicides or suicides, according to the nonprofit news organization Mother Jones.
Dorcas Evans-Miller, an Organizing for Action volunteer member, said gun violence isn’t something that should be impacting children.
“It caught the attention of a lot of mothers,” she said. “You think your child is safe at school; the doors are locked; there are security steps and measures, and yet, somehow this person got through.”
Pittsburgh-area parents who have lost their children to gun violence will also be in attendance.
According to the Center for American Progress, nearly three out of every 100,000 teens and children in Pennsylvania are murdered by guns, and in 2010 Pennsylvania had the fifth-highest rate of gun violence among those 19 and younger.
Evans-Miller, who organized the Pittsburgh event, said the vigil is also meant to stress the importance of stricter background checks and gun regulations.
“We want people to be able to receive guns when they want to buy them, but they have to be safety conscious and they also have to meet the guidelines,” she said.
State Rep. Ed Gainey (D-Alleghney) will speak at the event and propose his solutions to the growing problem of children and gun violence.
The vigil is expected to end at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church Children’s Choir.