With gun sales at record levels, and mass shootings on the rise, a local group is promoting common sense – Daily Local News

Posted: June 2, 2021 at 1:54 am


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WEST CHESTERIn honor of Fridays Gun Awareness Day, gun violence prevention advocates and local organizers, Starr Cummin Bright and Tom Buglio, wore orange three days prior to the event.

Also known as Wear Orange Day, since that is the color that hunters wear so they dont unintentionally shoot each other, the first Friday of June observes the birthday of Hadiya Pendelton who was killed by a stray bullet in a Chicago park.

Pendelton was killed three weeks after marching in former President Barack Obamas second inaugural parade. Coincidentally, Bright was the victim of a random shooting 30 years ago this Friday, June 4.

Bright is the co-chair and legislative lead of Chester County grassroots gun violence prevention organization, GunSenseUs. GunSenseUs is composed of both gun owners and non-gun owners and seeks to find a common ground agenda that the majority of people agree upon.

While seated in a church in 1991, a man she didnt know entered with a pipe and pistol and randomly shot Bright.

I couldnt believe it was real, she said. I heard the report, smelled the cordite and felt the burn.

The bullet traveled into Bright's spinal cord, broke off a piece of vertebra and deflected four inches down her spinal cord.

While the shooter served 10 years in prison for aggravated assault, 30 years later Bright is still in pain.

She had to relearn how to walk and said it felt like sharp glass was always pressing into her foot. Waves of pain would rush up her leg "It was like childbirth. I had to breathe through the pain and had a hard time focusing." It was five years before she could write a scientific paragraph. There was no way she could practice veterinary medicine anymore. Even the simple brushing up against her left leg by a cat was extremely painful.

The emotional pain was also intense.

She couldnt lift her one- and three-year-old daughters and couldnt hug them without wincing.

I felt like I couldn't be a good mom, and I couldnt do my job after years and years of study, Bright said. My self-worth was teetering.

Only after 10 years was she finally diagnosed with PTSD.

Although she was fearful that hed track her down and shoot her again, eventually, through Tonglen meditation, she forgave the man who shot her.

I was shot in a church it should be a safe place a sanctuary, she said. Think about all the shootings in America. There is no safe place.

Bright and Buglio, a point person with UU Justice PA-Gun Violence Prevention, are coalition partners with statewide organization CeaseFire PA.

The groups advocate for three main ideas: universal background checks, which 90 percent of all Pennsylvanians agree with; use of extreme risk protection orders; and the reporting of lost and stolen guns.

Additionally and locally, the pair pushes for training prior to first gun purchase, to keep new gun owners safe in handling guns and their families safe through safe storage.

Instituting extreme protection orders and taking away guns struck a nerve with Bright since the man who shot her threatened his sister with a gun and she called police. The police gave him back the gun after his sister refused to press charges against her brother and three weeks later he shot Bright.

With an extreme protection order, the sister could have petitioned the court to have the same gun that injured Bright removed.

Its designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who show a danger to themselves or others, Buglio said.

Buglio pointed at statistics such as the fact that 43,000 Americans were killed by guns in 2020, and 15,000 more than the 28,000 killed in 2000. In the last 50 years, more Americans have been killed by guns in the U.S., than the number of Americans killed in all previous wars.

We are experiencing an epidemic, Buglio said. Its getting worse, its not getting better.

There are an estimated 400 million guns in circulation.

Gun sales are at record levels, theyre selling like hot cakes, Buglio said.

To be clear, we dont advocate for getting rid of the 2nd Amendment, Buglio said. Were not out to take peoples guns away.

Were out to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and advocate that responsible gun owners learn how to use guns safely.

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With gun sales at record levels, and mass shootings on the rise, a local group is promoting common sense - Daily Local News

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