By Ann-Marie Adams | @annmarieadams
HARTFORD — Coming off her primary victory in New York, Presidential Candidate Hilary Clinton on Thursday met with families of Connecticut victims touched by gun violence.
The gathering of about 250 invited guests and supporters inside the Y conveyed the level of intimacy Clinton wanted to have on her campaign trail in Hartford, supporters said. The issue of gun violence, which affect about 30,000 Americans each year was discussed to aid Clinton’s push for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Clinton spent about 90 minutes at the Wilson-Gray YMCA taking questions after discussing mass shooting in Newtown and gun violence prevention.
“I’m not here to make promises I can’t keep. I wa m here to tell you I will use every single minute of every day looking for ways we can save lives that we can change the gun culture,” she said. “It is too easy for people to reach for a gun to settle their problems. It makes no sense.”
The panelists included Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“Hilary Rodham Clinton has been a champion for gun violence prevention for her entire career,” Smegielski said. “I know she is the only person in this race that can deliver real results.”
Clinton’s visit to Hartford’s North End followed Chelsea Clinton’s visit to the North End at Dunn’s River. Her visit follows that of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Other presidential candidates to visit include John Kasich, who will be in Glastonbury on Friday. Trump will be in Waterbury on Saturday. And Democratic Challenger Bernie Sanders will be at the Convention Center in Downtown Hartford.
Other panelists at the event on Thursday included Nelba Marquez-Greene, the mother of 6-year-old daughter Ana Grace also killed in the school shootings. The New Haven Chapter President of Mothers Demand Action Kim Washington and MDA member Deborah Davis were also in attendance.
Hartford resident Iran Nazario, founder of Compass Peace Builders, was also a panelist. He said that at the age of 12, he lost his brother to gun violence. He said there are young men who are still struggling because of grief from the loss of friends and family.
“There are kids out there whose souls are trapped,” he said. “And they need us.”
Clinton, in her brief remarks during the 90-minute session, reminded her supporters that the National Rifle Association has blocked many efforts to change gun laws. She praised the mothers in attendance for sharing their stories who have withstood harassment because of their campaign against gun violence.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said Clinton’s visit has helped to shine a spotlight on gun violence in the city. So far, there have been five homicides in 2016. For of those five victims, he said, are because of gun violence.
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