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March calling for gun reform attracts dozens in Fargo-Moorhead

A local pastor read the words of a mother who lost her child in the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting, saying gun violence is not acceptable in society.

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Protesters walk together with their signs during a march against gun violence sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church of Moorhead and Lutheran Campus Ministry of Concordia, MSUM and NDSU on Saturday, June 11, 2022. The marchers walked from Moorhead to Fargo and back.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — There will be no more spelling tests for the children who were killed in school shootings.

Trinity Lutheran Church Rev. Simon Fensom read on Saturday, June 11, words from a mother whose child was shot by a mass shooter last month in Uvalde, Texas. The thoughts he read in front of a crowd preparing to march through downtown Moorhead and Fargo were meant to express the pain and suffering families experience after shootings, and also to move people toward action against gun violence.

“Was she one of the first kids in the room to die or one of the last?” Fensom said in reading the mother’s words. “Which of her friends did she see die before her?”

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Trinity Lutheran Church Pastor Simon Fensom speaks to the crowd ahead of a march against gun violence on Saturday, June 11, 2022, outside of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

The dozens who showed up at the Moorhead church participated in the March For Our Lives , a protest that took part Saturday in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country. Participants called on Congress to pass gun reform laws in the wake of fatal mass shootings, including recent ones in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York.

Local pastors started talking about what they could do after the Buffalo shooting in mid-May, Fensom said. Those discussions to prevent gun violence, particularly school shootings, became more earnest in the wake of Uvalde, he said.

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“We’re just making a statement today that it is not OK,” Fensom told reporters before the march.

Marchers in Moorhead and Fargo were mostly quiet during the 40-minute walk. Some talked softly about their experiences and thoughts regarding gun violence. Several vehicles honked their horns while passersby waved at the marchers in support.

The U.S. House passed a gun reform package on Wednesday that included raising the age to 21 for those who could legally buy semiautomatic weapons and banning large-capacity magazines. That bill is likely to fail in the Senate, as Republicans oppose stricter gun control.

North Dakota’s Republican congressional delegations expressed a willingness to look into reinforcing gun laws without infringing on Second Amendment rights. Rep. Kelly Armstrong voted against the most recent gun reform package, along with Minnesota’s Republican U.S. Reps. Michelle Fischbach, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber.

“Instead of working together, Democrats rushed through gun control measures that encroach on Americans’ Second Amendment right, do little to reduce gun violence, federalize law enforcement, and have zero chance of becoming law,” Armstrong said in a statement. “These bills will directly restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners in North Dakota and around the nation, turning many of them into criminals for exercising a constitutional freedom.”

Congress should do something about gun violence, Linda Graf said before the march in Moorhead.

“I think most people want common-sense gun rules, but unfortunately there is a certain party that doesn’t feel that way,” she said.

Gun violence is the No. 1 killer of children in the U.S., said Kathy Delapointe, who also marched Saturday in Fargo and Moorhead. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a record number of 45,222 firearm-related deaths in 2020. That same year, gun deaths in people ages 1 to 19 years old overtook vehicle crashes as the top killer of children.

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“Our children are dying,” Delapointe said.

Fensom called Saturday’s turnout encouraging. He noted others had expressed their support on social media.

Gun violence has no place in society and needs to end, Fensom said. The Uvalde mother’s words noted people need to listen to the whispers of what could happen to prevent the screaming of children.

“Now I know there is a more deafening sound than children screaming, more horrific even than automatic rifles on a Tuesday morning,” Fensom said in quoting the Uvalde mother’s words. “I beg the world, pay attention to what’s screaming today or be forced to endure the silence that follows.”

Related Topics: FARGOSHOOTINGSGUNS
April Baumgarten joined The Forum in February 2019 as an investigative reporter. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, N.D., where her family raises Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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