Gun control advocacy groups gathered in protest outside the White House Friday afternoon in response to a shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 26 people, 20 of them children, saying the violence showed it was time for a serious discussion on gun control.
"Today is the day that we as Americans stand up and say we have had enough," Gun Free Kids President Andy Pelosi told an assembled crowd of about 100 people, which included several parents who had lost a child to gun violence. One couple in the audience held one another and cried, while dozens held lit candles in the air. At several moments, the crowd sang "We Shall Overcome," a protest song important to the civil rights movement.
Pelosi's words were echoed by Pastor Michael McBride of the California nonprofit Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action.
"Please lay out a plan of action," McBride said through a megaphone, in an address directed at President Barack Obama. "It's not just in our inner city schools- it's everywhere."
Not everyone in attendance was an advocate or had experiences with gun violence.
"I have a four-year-old son," said Ken Archer, who lives in Washington, D.C. "I'd like to see massacre control. Whatever we need to do to accomplish that is what I want."
Though many people held candles, Nancy Robinson, with advocacy group Citizens for Safety, emphasized that the protest was not a vigil, but a call for action. "The president came out saying now is not the time, and we're saying now is the time," she said.
Earlier Friday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said a gun control policy discussion would happen, "but today's not that day."
In an emotional press conference, Obama said that the country needed to "take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this," but did not specify what that action would be.
Sign at the candlelight vigil outside the White House twitter.com/thinkprogress/…
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Bigger crowd now twitter.com/daveweigel/sta…
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) December 14, 2012