Dozens of people gathered in Portland's First Parish Church Monday night to protest gun violence. As young members of the multicultural chorus Pihcintu sang, slides of gun violence victims were shown.
Organizers say the vigil was one of 150 taking place in 30 states across the country to observe the seventh anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and 6 educators were killed in the Dec. 14, 2012 incident.
Camilla Shannon, the chair-elect of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said the vigil honored not only the Sandy Hook victims but the many thousands of Americans lost to gun violence since that time.
Shannon said these are dark times, but she's optimistic. "It's sad to gather for such an occasion to recognize so many lives lost, but I think therein lies the hope. More and more people are attending such events, more and more people support common sense gun regulations."
Those regulations include such things as red flag laws, universal background checks and banning high capacity magazines, Shannon said.
Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, described as "astonishing" the number of victims lost to gun violence since the Sandy Hook school shooting.
"And so we take time to reflect on their loss and talk about what we can do to prevent future deaths," Bickford said, "with the hope that some day we don't have to vigils like this any more."
Bickford said political candidates used to run away from the gun control issue, but now they're running on gun control platforms and winning.