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People Gather in Doylestown To Remember Newtown Shooting Victims

One woman called the epidemic of gun violence "terrorism in our own country."

In Doylestown, as well as across the country, a moment of silence was observed at 9:30 a.m. Friday in memory of the 26 students and teachers murdered by a gunman a week ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

About a dozen people gathered outside the Fountain House, at Main and State streets, as the bells of the Main Street Baptist Church pealed for each of the victims

Some attending the event are members of the Doylestown Kindness Council, a new, informal group seeking to promote peace, healing and kindness in the wake of the horrific school shooting.

After the observance, several people said they hope this tragedy will finally spur the nation into taking meaningful action against violence from guns, which are used in two-thirds of the approximately 14,000 homicides annually in the United States.

They were interviewed before the National Rifle Association announced its solution to school shootings--stationing armed police officers in every school in America.

Linda Wisniewski, of Doylestown Township, said there must be a concerted national effort to reduce gun violence, the same way organized campaigns reduced deaths from drunken driving, vehicle accidents and smoking.

"I may not live to see it," she added, ruefully.

Freya Hoffman, of Solebury, said she and her daughter Thursday night placed green and white ribbons (the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School) on lampposts in Doylestown in remembrance of the victims.

"You can't go to school and be safe, you can't go anywhere and be safe, because weapons of war are in people's hands," she said. "We can develop a war on terror in another country, but this is terrorism in our own country."

Melanie Stencler, of Plumstead, said the Newtown school massacre really hit home with people because "It happened in Anywhere, America." She said a solution has to address gun control, access to mental health services and a culture that glorifies violence.

Suzanne Safran, a Doylestown mother of three children, said, "For me, as a mom, I've been heartbroken for a week. I said I would not rest until there is change."

She noted the Children's Defense Fund calculates that 116,000 American children were killed by guns between 1979 and 2009. "The only way to honor the memory of those children is to make change," she said.

Doylestown Borough Councilwoman Joan Doyle said the Newtown tragedy has shocked the public more than other mass shootings in recent years.

"The fact that we saw many very young children virtually slaughtered makes a difference in the eyes of everybody," she said.

Doyle said improving mental health services is just as important as more effective gun control.

"I hope this terrible tragedy changes the focus," she said. "We need to assist families who don't know where to turn."

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