For the original article, visit seacoastonline.com.
By Karen Dandurant
PORTSMOUTH – The community, local musicians and advocates came together on Friday evening at 3S Artspace to kick off the nationwide Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.
Among the groups represented were Haven, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. The Leftist Marching Band played outside as people arrived.
By taking part in the Portsmouth concert, participants are asking federal and state leaders to take reasonable, common sense steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, like requiring background checks on every gun sold.
Elissa Margolin, one of the organizers of the city event, said she works as an advocate for many issues and was asked to help with the concert.
“I work for so many issues, like homelessness and housing that I was unsure if I wanted to take on another issue,” said Margolin. “Then Orlando happened and my 15-year old asked me about guns and how people get them. I decided if I am not willing to do something, how can I complain. I gave a big sigh and got involved. I took to Facebook and other social media, asking my musician friends if they wanted to work with me. The response was heartwarming.”
Margolin said she hopes the night gets people talking.
“I want them to come together and say we are not alone,” said Margolin. “I am frustrated by gun violence and I know there are many like-minded people.”
Another of the organizers, Laurel Redden, said she believes that most people want to see more comprehensive background checks at the very least.
“There is such a lack of gun control laws,” said Redden. “Most reputable dealers comply with the law. But people can go to a gun show, a flea market or the Internet and buy a gun. We need to require that every gun sold follow the proper procedure.”
Rochester resident Daryl-Ann Hurst said she is against gun violence and believes there has to be a way to keep them out of the hands of people who should not have them.
“We need to come down harder of those who sell guns improperly,” said Hurst. “I believe that and came to support this effort.”
Lee resident Harvey Epstein said in his mind, in a utopian world, guns would no longer exist.
“If the bad guys didn’t have guns, the good guys wouldn’t need them,” said Epstein. “How many people are killed unnecessarily by guns? Too many.”
Most of the nation’s concerts take place Sept. 25, a day Congress has set aside as the Day of Remembrance of Murder Victims. The Portsmouth concert will be the first of over 200 concerts planned in all 50 states this weekend to remember victims of gun violence. Musical performances around the country will bring together thousands of concert organizers, performers and attendees to remember victims of gun violence and add their voices to a growing national chorus calling on our nation’s leaders to end a public health crisis they say claims the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year.
Each concert is connected via social media using #ConcertAcrossAmerica and #EndGunViolence. All concerts are listed online at http://www.concertacrossamerica.org.
State Senator Martha Fuller Clark said she recognizes that the Second Amendment right to bear arms should be upheld. That being said, she said she firmly believes better controls are needed.
“The issue of gun safety is of paramount concern to my constituents and to me,” said Fuller Clark. “We need to find a way to put more protections in place and at the same time honor the Second Amendment. The individuals who clearly do not qualify should not be allowed to buy a gun. It is shocking how many deaths from guns are happening. There are multiple random killings and we need to find a way to protect the rights of both sides of the question. I have huge respect for policemen, but these actions are undermining the respect for law enforcement.”
Martin England and the Reconstructed headlined the Portsmouth concert.
“I think gun violence has reached a level that is unacceptable,” said England. “I think we are way overdue on action and that’s why I got involved. I think people should be allowed guns for hunting, but that does not include automatic weapons. Countries that have banned or put strong control on guns have seen their murder and violence rates go way down.”
England said his father was a police officer and he grew up around guns. He said what is happening today is unacceptable.
Also performing were The Look Backs, Chris Guzikowski & The Grim Brothers and River Sister. DJ Skooch started spinning at 6:30 p.m., and Sam Harding served as the emcee for the evening.
For more information about the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence, visit www.concertacrossamerica.