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    Posted February 18, 2013 by
    Montpelier, Vermont
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Gun control debate: Background checks

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    VT Mom turns to Facebook for grassroots gun control support


    About 300 Vermonters rallied at the Vermont State House in Montpelier Saturday morning seeking sensible gun control legislation at the state and federal level. The rally was organized by Danielle LaFleur Brooks, a mother of 2 and a professor at Community College of Vermont. After hearing that gun control measures introduced by Vermont State Sen. Philip Baruth had been withdrawn following widespread opposition from the NRA, Vermont gun owners and what Baruth described as a lack of support in the Senate Democratic Caccus, Brooks felt she must do something to counter the overwhelming volume of the NRA's anti-gun control message.


    Brooks first step was to post a request with 20 Facebook friends on February 9th seeking supporters to stand with her at the Vermont State House on February 16th to demand sensible gun control measures. Given the short notice, Vermont's strong tradition of gun ownership and a very robust NRA presence, Brooks had no idea what to expect for a response. By Saturday morning, she had about 60 attendees confirmed via Facebook. By mid-morning Saturday, a crowd of several hundred were gathered to express support for gun control legislation banning assault weapons and large capacity magazines.


    Among the speakers at the Saturday morning rally was Vermont State Rep. Linda Waite-Simpson. Waite-Simpson, a gun owner and experienced target shooter has proposed a number of measures, including the bill H.124 currently making it's way through the Vermont Legislature. Waite-Simpson has the unique distinction of being an advocate for sensible firearms control who gun owners are willing to work with, seeing her as one of their own.


    As the debate about firearms continues at the state and federal level, both sides are preparing for what looks to be a long difficult search for a solution to the firearms violence currently plaguing the United States.


    Photo #1: Out of the very passionate crowd  of 300 or so who turned out for the event, two people in particular  really stayed with me.

    They were Joy Gaine and her son, Conner, from Thetford Vermont. The pair lost a family member to gun-violence in 2007 when the woman's niece was murdered. They seemed just a little  separated from the rest of the crowd. There was almost a palpable bubble of anger, frustration, grief, hopefulness that hovered around them. I  took this photo when Joy Gaine closed her eyes for a moment while Danielle Brooks,  one of the rally organizers was speaking about the anger, frustration  and resolve she felt upon hearing a bill introduced by Vt. State Senator  Philip Baruth was withdrawn after heavy pressure from inside the State House, the NRA and Vt. gun  owners. For a moment, Brooks almost seemed to be  channeling, expressing the very emotions this woman was grappling with.  I am not really sure my photo does this moment justice. For just a  second, it seemed like this terrible burden she had been carrying was  lifted as she realized she was not alone in her battle to end gun  violence.


    Photo #2: A lone arm sticks out above the crowd holding a "No Assault Rifle" sign during a rally in Montpelier Vermont supporting gun control measures at the state and federal level.


    Photo #3: A young women stands amidst the crowd on the steps of the Vermont State House, the sign she holds over her head proclaiming that more guns do not equal more safety.


    Photo #4: A group of Vermonters hold signs declaring their support for a ban on Assault Weapons.


    Photo #5: A women attending the Saturday rally supporting greater controls on firearms, including a ban on assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines holds up a sign showing the number of people killed by gun violence since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.


    Photo #6: Supporters of tougher controls on civilian ownership of military weapons listen to Vt. State Rep Linda Waite-Simpson speak during the Saturday morning rally in Montpelier Vt.

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