At the end of April, Team 26 came to town. These bicyclists ride every year in memory of the 26 people shot and killed at Sandy Hook elementary, and to call all Americans to stand up for sensible gun reform. Monte Frank, the team leader, spoke at a rally for the team, hosted at the ULS Seminary chapel on April 30, following welcomes from our Mayor Streeter and borough council member Patti Lawson. Mayor Streeter began his welcome by stating that he is a gun owner who, like most, believes in universal background checks. Monte picked up on the importance of this. In a time when politics is driving everyone into corners, the fact remains that 89 percent of Americans agree with our mayor, favoring both second amendment gun-owning rights and universal background checks to keep us all safe. Monte pointed out that we need to join together to accomplish this type of common sense, life-saving reform. We can no longer allow pre-determined definitions to persuade us that a good liberal can’t favor second amendment rights, or that a good conservative can’t favor universal background checks. In reality the vast majority of Americans favor both. Adams County hunters and citizens are exactly this type of common-sense Americans, who want our young people to be safe at school, and our communities to be safe at their places of worship, entertainment, and daily life. The motto of Gettysburg for Gun Sense reflects the same sensibility, “Preventing gun violence through education and gun regulation consistent with the rights of responsible gun owners.”
Here in Gettysburg we are good at working together. The Gettysburg Police Department escorted the Team safely to the rally, along with members of Healthy Adams Bicycle Pedestrian Inc. (HABPI), and all were welcomed by the Seminary and Gettysburg for Gun Sense, by Chapel musicians and members of Cormorant’s Fancy folk singers, by members of nearby Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense groups as well as by Gettysburg College students, and by seventy-some Adams County residents representing various faiths and traditions, who all took time from a busy weekday afternoon to attend. The rally closed with a blessing from the Book of Numbers read first in Hebrew, then in Arabic, and finally in English by members of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities. All faith communities have suffered gun violence losses, especially in recent years. Even just during the 6 days of this year’s ride, a life was lost in a synagogue shooting in California. The team rode with the theme, “An attack on one faith is an attack on all faiths.” The different groups represented at the rally wore all kinds of colors, from the green and white Team 26 uniform to the t-shirts of different groups in yellow, orange, and red, making a colorful photograph. The visual mosaic was a bright reminder of the collaboration needed to make our society safe. Following the rally, Team 26 visited the Peace Light, then yellow-shirted HABPI members gave them an impromptu bicycle tour of the battlefields. Now, we must pull together to let legislators know that enough is enough. The time for gun reform is now.