Families affected by gun violence demand change from local lawmakers

PITTSBURGH — A sea of orange could be found in Pittsburgh’s Hill District today, as several organizations led a rally and march against gun violence.

CeasefirePA was one of the largest driving forces in setting up the event.

“We are honoring gun violence survivors, those that have been taken by gun violence, those that have bee effected by it and their community and those that have survived it,” said Beth Foringer, a representative from CeasefirePA.

Another organization present was Moms Demand Action. A member from the organization, Gina Pelusi, lost her mother when she was shot by a felon eight years ago.

“She answered a knock at the door of our home and was shot and killed in our doorway. The man who killed her was a convicted felon who never should have had access to a weapon,” said Pelusi.

It was not hard to find others who had been impacted by gun violence.

“Attached to each young person who passes away is a grandmother, mother, aunts, uncles, an entire family,” said Cathy Welsh.

She lost her son Jeremy in 2017 after a fellow classmate at Woodland Hills shot and killed him. It’s a fear more parents are facing.

“That’s one of our biggest fears, will my son be shot and killed by another one of our students?” Welsh said.

According to the latest data, 97% of homicides this year involved a gun and 42% of those victims were between the ages of 15 and 24. Welsh said something needs to change and she’s looking to the state for help.

“It’s an ugly place to be. I don’t want to have to see every state rep and legislator have to lose someone to gun violence hopefully they make a change before that,” Welsh said.

CeaseFire PA is one of the groups Welsh works with in order to bring attention to the problem. With walks and different events, the group is hoping for lawmakers to pass gun legislation and prioritize prevention rather than response.

“We aren’t accepting thoughts and prayers anymore we are demanding action and they take responsibility,” said Beth Foringer with CeaseFire PA.