Emerson College President Lee Pelton joined Mayor Thomas Menino, lawmakers, and families of gun violence victims at a rally in Boston August 28 to call on Congress to pass tougher national gun laws, focusing on stricter background checks for gun buyers.
The rally was organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and is part of “No More Names: National Drive to Reduce Gun Violence.” Those in attendance included Massachusetts senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, and U.S. representatives Michael Capuano and John Tierney.
“Illegal guns are taking a terrible and unacceptable toll on our youth, particularly those who live in lower income or urban neighborhoods,” said Pelton. “The top cause of death for African American teens between 15 and 19 years old is gun homicide. And while African American teens represent just 15 percent of their peers, they account for 45 percent of all gun deaths in their age group. As a country, we have a moral obligation to find ways to eliminate youth access to these weapons.”
In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Pelton, along with 289 other college presidents, made a pledge to President Obama to lead discussions about America’s culture of gun violence. To help fulfill that promise, Pelton established the College Presidents’ Gun Violence Resource Center, a website available to college presidents that shares information and helps institutions design and plan campus initiatives around gun violence. In addition to the resource center, Emerson hosted a series of panel discussions titled Made in America: Our Gun Violence Culture during the Spring 2013 semester.
Mayors Against Illegal Guns is an ongoing, national effort continuing to raise awareness of the issue of gun violence in America—and, most importantly, to urge elected officials to prioritize the safety of the people they represent. The coalition was cofounded in 2006 by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and has grown from a committed group of 15 members to more than 1,000 mayors.