Local group rallies downtown Youngstown for gun control
By Sean Barron
Robin Wesson’s 22-year-old brother was shot to death Nov. 9, 2007, in front of his East Side home.
Starting shortly after the shooting, she has since channeled her grief in positive ways.
She advocates against gun violence, takes her anti-violence messages to youngsters, and reminds people of the constant pain from such a loss.
Wesson’s brother’s killing also was an impetus for her participation in Friday’s vigil in Central Square to call attention to what participants feel is a need for stronger gun- control measures.
“I never, ever want to see anybody hurt as bad as my family still hurts,” said Wesson, holding a photo album with several photos of her brother, Sidney Wesson, who she said also mentored children.
Wesson and fellow participants John Jackson, Mark Gavin Sr., Roger Chamberlain and George Newth are volunteers with Organizing for Action, an offshoot of a political-action committee President Barack Obama started.
The one-hour local gathering was one of an estimated 125 such vigils that took place Friday across the country to raise greater awareness of the effects of gun violence and the need for reforms, Jackson said.
The five held signs calling for banning high-capacity magazines, closing background-check loopholes and contacting Congress to vote on the proposals.
“The only way we can do anything is to call Congress. They’re the ones who make the laws,” Jackson said.
One sign was a reminder of the estimated 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S. each year, of which about 18,000 are suicides, he explained.
Along those lines, the states with the highest number of gun owners also have the highest rates of suicide by firearms, noted Chamberlain, who added that many over-the-counter medications are more tightly regulated than gun purchases.
Jackson said about 92 percent of people support closing such loopholes, and that a vast majority of National Rifle Association members feel the same. He also was quick to add that he is not in favor of banning all firearms, and that law-abiding gun owners have nothing to worry about.
“I believe in the Second Amendment and that people have a right to protect themselves in their homes,” Jackson added.
Jackson said one of the group’s main objectives is to encourage more people to pressure their elected officials to vote for sensible gun-law reforms.
Echoing the president during his recent State of the Union speech, Jackson said: “[Former Arizona U.S. Rep.] Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The children of Newtown [Conn.] deserve a vote.”