RALLYING FOR PEACE: Duluthians push for gun control

RALLYING FOR PEACE: Duluthians push for gun control
Published: Oct. 1, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 1, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - Hundreds of Duluthians gathered in Leif Erikson park Saturday for the first ever Rally for Peace.

The rally was organized by the Peace United Church of Christ, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

Duluth leaders spoke about getting stricter gun laws passed in Minnesota.

“We can’t wait for the next Sandy Hook,” Duluth City Councilor Mike Mayou said.

Others spoke about the intertwining of gun violence and race.

“What we need to do, is transform the criminal and legal justice system,” Classie Dudley, President of the Duluth Branch NAACP, said.

Organizers also said it’s important to spread efforts of gun control beyond Duluth.

“That national message will catch on, it will catch on,” Mayor of Duluth Emily Larson, said.

Peace United Church Pastor Jim Mitulski was among those speaking at Saturday’s rally. He advocated for gun control measures.

“We think that gun control, gun reform and ending gun violence is consistent with our 150 year witness for peacemaking,” he said.

The rally was also in celebration of the church’s 150th anniversary. In Mitulski’s view, “peace” has several meanings.

“This is a rally for peace, peace is more than the absence of war, peace is creating a just, equal society,” Mitulski said.

Hundreds of Northlanders joined Mitulski in spreading the message. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so far in 2022, there have been 513 firearm deaths in Minnesota.

“But we can do something about gun reform, we can do something about gun control,” Mitulski said.

Not only were Northlanders in attendance, but also a prominent gun control activist. David Hogg, a survivor of the 2018 Marjorie Stoneman Douglas mass shooting in Parkland, Florida spoke. The shooting killed 17 of his classmates and staff at the school.

“I think what peace means is sticking to our principles of course but trying to figure out what we can agree on making as much progress as we can,” Hogg said.

Hogg also co-founded March for Our Lives, a gun control activism group started in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

“You know in the early days of the parkland shooting a group of students from Parkland met with John Lewis and one of the things that John Lewis said was this is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said.

Hogg acknowledged that change to current gun laws doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s something that has to be addressed by lawmakers. Hogg talked about the Uvalde, Texas shooting where a shooter killed 19 students and two teachers inside Robb Elementary School. Before remarks began, there was a moment of silence for the Barry family, who were killed in early April in Duluth.

“These laws do work, no law is perfect, but if it even stops one shooting, it’s worth it,” Hogg said.