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'Lie-In' at Fountain Square DrawsAttention to Easy Access to Guns

Thursday, June 28, 2007
Evanston Roundtable
by Mary Helt Gavin

Two months to the day after the massacre at Virginia Tech, said to be the largest gun massacre in the history of this country, the Illinois Coalition Against Handgun Violence (ICHV) held a lie-in at Fountain Square. Modeled after the sit-in protests of the 1960s, lie-ins dramatize death, as "victims" lie down in a public space to draw attention to the violence caused by handguns.
Two State representatives - Julie Hamos and Harry Osterman - participated, along with Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin and Aldermen Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward; Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward; Delores Holmes, 5th Ward; and Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward.
Families of victims of gun violence, and some victims themselves - two with bullets still in their bodies - took part in the protest: Ryann Brown, recovering from brain surgery from a gunshot wound suffered last year as an innocent bystander, and Chicago Police Officer Mike Robbins, with 13 bullets still in his body, shot in the line of duty. Ms. Brown held a sign that read, "15 more people were shot at Virginia Tech that survived, but were injured... Like I have been... Nationally gun violence injures almost twice as many as it kills."
According to the organizers, the protest was meant to "draw attention to the appalling levels of gun violence in America," in particular the 32 victims of the Virginia Tech killings and the 24 Chicago Public School students who died this year from gunfire. For three silent minutes, 32 persons dressed in black lay on the ground in front of the war memorials to symbolize the Virginia Tech victims and to protest the availability of deadly handguns.
Mr. Suffredin read the names of the Virginia Tech victims. "It took longer for me to read the 32 names than it took for them to get killed," he told the RoundTable. "The three-minute silence was longer than it took to perfect the sale of the weapon used in the crime. We need to double our efforts to remind people of the damage these weapons can do," he added.
According to the ICHV, on the average, 32 Americans are murdered with guns every day. Supporters of stricter gun laws in Illinois say they hope to increase public discourse about pending legislation that would ban high-capacity ammunition, require reporting of lost and stolen guns, and mandate background checks on person- to-person handgun sales.
Their website is http://www.protesteasyguns.org.



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