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About 40 men and women held a silent rally at Westfield North County Mall in Escondido on Saturday, December 14, the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook mass murder of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.

The demonstrators, members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and Organizing for Action, displayed signs at the shopping mall’s main entrance on Via Rancho Parkway.

Carol Landale, from Carmel Valley, held a poster that read, “Remember Sandy Hook. Tell Congress ‘Finish the job.’”

“A year ago today, 20 students and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut were shot dead,” said Landale. “Before that, there was Virginia Tech, where 32 people were shot dead. What is it going to take to get our legislators to stop their hemming and hawing and get the job done — pass laws that’ll keep guns out of the hands of maniacs?”

Ben Talley, from Fallbrook, remarked, “I’d hope, minimally, that the Republican congressmen would favor expanded background checks, that they would make stores like Walmart stop advertising and selling assault weapons.”

Genevieve Perkes, an Escondido first-grade teacher: “The current policy regarding gun control is unsafe. We have to change our nation’s attitude about guns. The Rambo movies and Breaking Bad create a culture where guns are expected. And we have to change how we treat the mentally ill. Firearms are too easily accessed by everybody, including them.”

Radha Chari, also from Escondido, added, “Congress hasn’t done anything so far, so it’s up to us. Nothing has been done about background checks.”

As the demonstrators paraded up and down the mall’s entrance road, Encinitas City Council Lisa Shaffer gave her take on their efforts: “Our short-term goal is raising awareness; our long-term goal, having better controls over the purchase and use of weapons, better mental-health care. The lawmakers are elected by the people; we have to change the people in office. The problem stems from fear and mental illness. We have to try to change people’s attitudes or we’ll end up in a fortress.”

Art Amor, from Temecula, said, “We have to remind people that we should have 20 second-graders giving their parents Christmas wish lists instead of being underground. A massacre like that will happen again unless we do something. The legislators would be the last to do anything. The pathetic performance of Congress proves that — its failure to strengthen background checks, and so on. They’re just out to save their own jobs. They’re bought off by gun interests — the NRA.”

It was a silent rally, but for the entire hour it was held, a fanfare of staccato honks signaled the support of passing motorists.

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