Lehigh Valley

Local activists call for tighter gun restrictions

Organizers say mass shootings are far too common

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Calls for change rang out in downtown Allentown Sunday evening as a small group gathered at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument honoring the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting and speaking out in favor of gun reform.

"We must break the stronghold the gun lobbyists have on our legislature," said David Weidman, a commissioner for the Borough of Emmaus. 

The rally was organized by local activist groups and faith leaders.  Speakers from different organizations spoke into the megaphone, pleading for peace, unity and action.

"When are we going to say we're going to put people over guns?" said Jude-Laure Denis, executive director of POWER Northeast, one of the groups sponsoring the vigil.

Denis said she's not against the second ammendment but wants to see lawmakers enact harsher regulations and what she calls common sense solutions to gun violence.

"Let's make sure people have to be registered, let's make sure that from one state to another, you can't go to one state and buy 17 guns and then go to another and buy 17 guns," said Denis.

The Las Vegas massacre sparked debate over gun control nationwide.  The National Rifle Association has criticized calls for stricter laws and some local gun owners are echoing those sentiments.

"My thought is, if a person really wants an item, it's out there to be had," said gun owner Carl Greener.

"I think this is the best time to solidify the second amendment because the people without guns were the ones on the ground that had no way to defend themselves from the sky," said Gerard Stezelberger, president of Relic Hunter Inc.

But for some people, like Cammie Takahashi who brought her daughter to Sunday's rally, the right to bear arms seems unecessary and dangerous.

"I don't see the need for any private citizen to own a gun," said Takahashi.

As the controversial debate continues, those leading the rally say so does their push for change.

They say they'll continue to speak out so the next Sandy Hook, Pulse Nightclub or Vegas doesn't happen.

Event organizers also honored the victims of the Las Vegas shooting with a moment of silence, 58 seconds for the 58 people who were killed.

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