Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It Takes a Village: Events, Discussions Unfold after Florida School Tragedy

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

It Takes a Village: Events, Discussions Unfold after Florida School Tragedy

Article excerpt

"We'll win this, I believe we will. We have to, for our kids."

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D),

5th Congressional District

RIDGEWOOD — A Thursday night meeting between various Bergen County groups and residents took on greater meaning following a national tragedy.

A previously scheduled discussion primarily about gun control in a Ridgewood home came a day after a school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead. A crowd of more than 100 people filled the home of Catherine Brienza, many more than likely would have came had it not been for the Parkland, Florida shooting Wednesday.

"It's a sad coincidence," Brienza said.

Ridgewood JOLT, or Joint, Organized, Lead, Teach, plus Bergen County's chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Ramsey Pins and Women of Action in Fair Lawn organized the event.

The crowd of concerned citizens was joined by Eric Ruben from NYU's Brennan Center for Social Justice. Ruben detailed a history of the Second Amendment, but noted it is not necessarily the obstacle for stricter gun laws.

"The culture is a bigger problem," Ruben said.

The broader cultural opinion on guns would have to change for laws to follow suit, he argued. Such shifts have happened, he continued, such as with smoking.

Brienza said the conversation had to change because semiautomatic weapons should not be called guns.

"We need to call them weapons of mass destruction because that's what they are," she said.

While the discussion veered toward future change, it also kept an eye on past disaster.

"Parkland. Sandy Hook. Las Vegas. Orlando. It's so many," Ramsey resident Kathy Olsen said. "That's why I'm here."

Megan Aylward of Wyckoff said her son's friend moved to Parkland only months before the shooting and was in the high school at the time.

"He literally had to step over bodies to get out," Aylward said. "How is that kid the same? My kid is saying to me 'Ramapo [High School] is smaller Mom where would I run to hide? …

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