Nearly 1,000 people marched two miles across the Brooklyn Bridge to New York's City Hall on Saturday to rally against gun violence.
Once the marchers reached City Hall, they heard speeches by Shannon Watts, the head of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; a New York congresswoman; several people who had lost family members to gun violence; and actress Amanda Peet.
"It was incredibly encouraging," Watts said after the event. "It shows that Americans care about this issue. And we’re not going to go away until it gets changed."
The rally followed a week in which two police officers and a Wal-Mart shopper in Las Vegas were killed by a gunman, and a 15-year-old freshman opened fire at an Oregon high school, killing one classmate.
The shooting in Oregon was the 74th involving schools since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
The crowd echoed the sentiments of Richard Martinez, whose son, Christopher, was killed in the recent shooting in Isla Vista, and who publicly scolded politicians with the chant, "Not one more."
The event -- sponsored by several organizations, including Everytown for Gun Safety and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Washington-based lobby group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- was the second such rally, with nearly twice the turnout of the previous one. The first rally was held last year, not long after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and another is planned for San Francisco in September.
The rally was funded in great part by Bloomberg, who has made gun control into one of his post-mayoral causes.
Watts, a mother of five from Indianapolis, said she was motivated by the shootings at Sandy Hook to start her organization. It started with a Facebook page and now claims more than 150,000 members nationwide.
"We’re taking a page out of the gun lobby playbook," Watts told the Los Angeles Times. "We are constantly engaging new people to show the gun lobby that we are stronger than they are and we will win -- 80 million American moms are more powerful than any gun lobbyist."
She said her organization's priority is to close a background check loophole for purchasing arms at the federal level and in many states.
According to statistics collected by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an estimated 40% of guns are transferred without background checks, mainly at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions. Last year, roughly 6.6 million guns were transferred this way, the group says.
The National Rifle Assn. did not respond to a request for comment.
One of the event's speakers, Antonius Wiriadjaja, 30, an adjunct professor in animation and electronics at New York University, said he was a victim of gun violence last year. He said in an interview that he was on his way to the subway in Brooklyn when he was hit by a stray bullet from a nearby shooting.
Wiriadjaja said a good Samaritan helped him, keeping pressure on the wound until help arrived. After a four-day coma and a long rehabilitation, he returned to work and reconnected with the man who helped save his life.
This week, Wiriadjaja discovered that the man who had helped him, John Morant, was gunned down while traveling in South Carolina.
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