Peace vigil held in Aiken, group wants gun reform

Peace vigil held in Aiken, group wants gun reform
Moms Demand Action holding a peace vigil on Whiskey Road in Aiken (Source: Lex Juarez)

AIKEN, SC (WFXG) - More and more, vigils and anti-gun protests are popping up across the country. On Monday, August 5, two Aiken groups joined together for a peace vigil on Whiskey Road. Unlike some groups seen nationwide, these are not pushing to get rid of guns. Instead, they only want “sensible gun laws” passed.

Holding demonstrations is one of the ways Moms Demand Action works toward their goal. The local group, Women in Black, hold anti-violence protests or peace vigils twice a month on Whiskey Road, and the Aiken Chapter Lead for Moms Demand Action asked to join with them. Emilie DeGryse said, “We need to bring more attention to the reality that we’re losing 100 people every day. Our neighbors. Our children. Our friends. Our lovers.”

While mass shootings come to the forefront of our minds when talking gun violence, DeGryse points out it happens more often in our back yards. “Mass shootings actually only account for 3% of death from gun violence," she said. She said the commonality we see with gun violence in the CSRA is what her group is working to stop.

Reverend Darlene Kelley with Langley United Methodist Church, one of the demonstrators, said, “There are some common sense things we can do to end gun violence.” In addition to holding peace vigils, the group also meets with legislatures and talks through action they want to see taking place. DeGryse explained, “We’re trying to get legislation for red flag laws, background checks. We want to close the Charleston loophole. It affects us all.” Kelley added, “We certainly want to support people that are fighting for the second amendment; we get that. We’re not taking your gun away. We just want you not to kill people with it.”

As the group continues to fight for “sensible gun laws," they say it should not be a hard choice for others to want the same. Kelley said, "We need to work together, everybody, across all divisions.” They hope as more people work with them, communities will live without anxiety or fear surrounding weapons.

DeGryse said she will be holding a new member meeting at Odell Weeks Activity Center in Aiken for anyone who is interested in joining the local Moms Demand Action chapter. The meeting will be on Monday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m.

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