Sussex County Democrats opted to hold a vigil for the 21 victims of Uvalde's school shooting in Newton, Saturday by its preempting its first-ever Patriotic Puppy Parade.
"Thoughts and prayers have their place," Sussex County Chair Dawn Rowe told the 16, who turned out Saturday at Newton's Green despite a driving noontime rain, "but we need action."
Calling sensible gun controls a 90/10 issue, 90 percent for "sensible" laws and 10 favoring the status quo, Rowe said Democrats have to find ways to hold elected leaders accountable.
Over the last 20 plus years, the country has lived through Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and Parkland, she noted.
"And that's just school shootings," she said adding: "We were told not rush into things."
Uvalde and the mass shooting days earlier in Buffalo, NY, that killed 10 people, need to be shootings that breaks the legislative log jam, they said.
"We need to force our elected officials to do something," Rowe said. "They cannot be allowed to push this off again."
To get there will require Democrats to win the hearts of minds of independent voters and Republicans, who public polling contends favor sensible gun regulations like expanded background checks and banning assault weapons.
Andover Township's James Cleveland told the small gathering they need assure gun owners that they "are not coming for their guns."
"We have to get this message to those people," he said, "We need to talk to others."
Newton wasn't alone in attracting a small crowd demanding action. Umbrella and sign carrying Moms Demanding Action were in Fair Lawn protesting the shooting in Texas last week.
On Thursday in Clifton in front of Clifton Hall at 7 p.m. another vigil is planned for the victims.
The puppy parade will be rescheduled for a later date.
Matt Fagan is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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