By Ananda Shorey
WASHINGTON – Most of the elected officials had already had their say, but when Carole Price got up to speak Wednesday in the shadow of the Capitol, the crowd got a little more attentive and the applause grew a little more enthusiastic.
Price’s son, John, was 13 when he was shot in the face and killed 19 months ago by a 9-year-old who was playing with a handgun. That event brought Price to Washington on Wednesday, urging Congress to act on gun-control measures and trying to drum up support for next month’s planned Million Mom March on the issue.
“It is not about gun control. It is about gun safety,” the Manchester mother said of the push for more gun legislation.
Price and a handful of other mothers were outnumbered by elected officials from Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., who came out on the eve of the Columbine High School shooting anniversary to throw their support behind the Million Mom March and its message.
“Thank God for the mothers who have said enough is enough,” said Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, one of about 20 elected officials at the event.
The march was dreamed up by a New Jersey mother, Donna Dees-Thomases, after an August shooting at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in California. She called for a Mother’s Day march by moms, on the Mall in Washington and in communities throughout the country, in an effort to educate children and the nation about the danger of guns.
Dees-Thomases has said that the march is meant to tell Congress “that we have had it with their inaction on this issue, and we are coming by the thousands to move them forward toward gun licensing and registration.” In addition to licensing and registration, the moms will push Congress to require that handguns be equipped with childproof locks.
Maryland became a national leader in gun-control legislation this year with a new law that will require every handgun in the state to be sold with a trigger lock by October. By January 2003, every new handgun sold in the state will have to be equipped with an internal locking device.
“It is easier to childproof a gun than bulletproof a child,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney Doug Gansler of the rationale behind the new law.
But Maryland laws alone are not enough to stop youth from dying across the country, according to Lisa Hurka Covington, whose sister committed suicide with a handgun in 1991.
“I hope other states will follow the lead,” that Maryland has taken, Covington said. She praised Gov. Parris Glendening’s successful efforts to toughen the state’s gun-control laws, saying he “understands the epidemic of gun violence.”
Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Largo, said that he is confident that the power of the moms will influence Congress to follow Maryland’s lead.
“The Republican leadership hasn’t listened to us, but maybe on the 14th they will listen to them (the mothers),” Wynn said.
Price said Congress had better listen.
“Congress, on May 14, will do something about gun violence, or the mothers will do something about Congress in November,” she said.
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