The newly formed Reston-Herndon Committee Against Gun Violence made its presence known Friday, when nearly 60 marchers held a peaceful protest in front of the Fairfax headquarters of the National Rifle Association in blustery 27-degree weather.
The group, dressed all in black, held up handmade signs with sayings such as “Killing Children Is Not Sport” and “Stop the NRA.”
The protest was personal for marcher Beverly Rains of Herndon, whose 19-year-old son Ryan Jones killed himself in 1994 with a handgun he purchased at a Chantilly K-Mart.
“My son originally purchased a handgun at a flea market in West Virginia and was later charged with concealing it in his vehicle in Virginia. He then went to K-Mart and bought another one that he used to kill himself with,” she said. “Both those gun sales could have been avoided with a universal background check.”
For committee co-founder Joanna Simon of Reston, both the formation of the committee, and its first NRA protest, was an answer to December’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn. “I have two first-grade grandchildren and when the Newtown massacre occurred, it really hit home with me,” she said. “I think the NRA’s response to that tragedy, to put more guns in schools, was deplorable.”
Sally Horwatt-Brodsky, also of Reston, said that she too had an adverse reaction to the NRA’s suggestion. “I literally stood up after hearing it on television and yelled ‘I can’t stand it!’”
Horwatt-Brodsky said that she is in favor of the Second Amendment, and that mandatory gun registration does not conflict with it. “Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia agrees with me,” she said. “He said so in his dissention in the case of Disctict of Columbia vs. Heller.”
Jim Sollo, spokesman for the Virginia Center for Public Safety, said he lives “a rifle’s shot” from the NRA headquarters in Fairfax. He marched Friday to commemorate a 26-year-old female co-worker who he says was gunned down in 1993 by a crazed gunman just before her wedding.
“That made it personal,” he said. “I have been advocating for responsible gun control laws ever since. I think Newtown brought it home for many others as well. Enough is enough.”
Simon said that going forward, her committee will protest outside NRA headquarters on the 14th of every month at 9:30 a.m., to commemorate the victims of the Newtown Massacre which took place December 14 around that same time.
“We welcome all those who are interested in supporting our efforts to limit gun violence,” she said. “In addition to tens of thousands of gun deaths every year, U.S. lifetime medical costs for gunshot injuries total an estimated $2.3 billion, and taxpayers pay for almost half of that.”
NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam did not acknowledge attempts seeking NRA comments to Friday’s protest.