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'March for Our Lives' in Batavia mostly an adult event

By Howard B. Owens


Across the country today protests against gun violence in schools were held in cities large and small, and news reports indicate many high school students joined those protests, dubbed nationwide as "March for our Lives."

There was also a march in Batavia today, organized by local progressives, and more than 200 people turned out -- mostly adults, mostly people age 50 and older.

The idea of high school students grabbing the spotlight in the fight against gun violence began after the Parkland, Fla., shooting where 17 students died and students at that school immediately began speaking out.

On March 14, hundreds of Batavia High School students participated in a national walkout to protest gun violence at schools.

Few of those students turned out for today's event. There were perhaps five or six teenagers in today's crowd.

Batavia HS student Lauren Leone served as the event's emcee and one of the speakers was BHS student Sophia Alkhouri Stuart.

"We are calling all the adults in our country to live up to their responsibility to help protect us from gun violence," Stuart said. "Today as you march, you are marching for life. We need to be united in our commitment to life and to innocent children who are committed to learning. We need to eliminate the ability of those who seek to harm others to get ahold of a gun. This is our time and this is our chance to change the story of our schools."

The other speakers were all adults.

Pastor James Renfrew opened with a short sermon drawing on a parable from the New Testament about a farmer sowing seeds. Renfrew said there were many lessons to draw from the parable, including the importance of listening.

"Listen to our children," Renfrew said. "Listen to their worries and fears. Listen to their thoughts and dreams. In listening, we become the seeds planted in good soil, growing, and thriving and multiplying God’s hopes. As you listen to the voices of children, it becomes the amazing harvest described in the parable."

Most of the signs carried by marchers called for some degree of elimination of guns, such as banning assault rifles.

While not naming the National Rifle Association, Gary Pudup called out those organizations that oppose any and all gun control. 

"There are those who will make false arguments trying to distract us from our goal, a society free of the constant fear of gun violence," Pudup said. "They will say we should simply strengthen background checks when strengthening background checks is meaningless unless the laws behind them are meaningful.

"They will tell us that teachers with guns are the cure for what ails us" -- at which point several people cried out "No." -- "They will tell us that the young man who committed the murders at Parkland was evil as if a 19-year-old was the very definition of evil. Let me give you my definition of evil. Evil is an organization that holds the values of profits higher than the value of children’s lives."

Pudup did praise a group founded in Rochester that is pursuing legislation focused on keeping guns out of the hands of potentially violent people, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. The organization is backing a bill that would create an "Emergency Restraining Protection Order," which would create a process in court to deny access to guns to anybody who is a threat to themselves or others.

Bethany resident Carol Kistner then spoke and said she had recently joined Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She was dressed in a camouflage jacket that belongs to her husband and a camouflage shirt that belongs to her father to also represent her family's hunting interest. And the layers of clothing also represented the multilayered problem of gun violence, that the problem is complex and will defy easy solutions, such as just taking away guns.

She said Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America is an organization not interested in taking away anybody's guns.

"We recognize and want to preserve this wonderful tradition that my family has enjoyed forever," Kistner said. "Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America recognizes that there is a great fear among those who enjoy sports, the sports of shooting and hunting.

"We honor those traditions but our biggest challenge is to get out the word to our rural counties just like this one that we are not against you. We are for you. No one has greater respect for guns and gun safety than hunters and sportsman."

She said it's really up to those who understand guns and gun safety to support sensible action to help reduce gun violence.

She said the legislation the group is backing in New York would provide a process to deny access to guns for people who have threatened suicide, have shown they are violent criminals, or the violently mentally ill.

"Those are three places to potentially remove guns — with due process, of course," she said.

After the speech, the group marched from Williams Park to City Hall chanting slogans such as "Enough is Enough" and carrying their signs.

Top photo: Sophia Alkhouri Stuart.



Carol Kistner






Rich Richmond

As an NRA Life Member, I agree with many, although not all of the things they said and disagree with one person, in particular. However, I support his and their right to a respectful, peaceful protest.

It is popular and fashionable these days to demonize and disparage the NRA, one of the oldest grassroots- civil rights organizations in the Country.

Despite what the so-called mainstream media, and Gary Pudup would have you to believe, the NRA, and it’s members are not evil. Coming together to find a solution is impossible when rhetoric such as Gary’s is on display.
It diluted and shamed the good intentions of the protest. I listened to what was said, and I agree with them on many points.

How do you know someone is an NRA Member, you don’t. Not all of us wear NRA hats and shirts or have NRA bumper stickers on our cars and trucks. We don’t all wear camouflage clothing, and many of us aren’t sportsman and don’t hunt at all. We have children and grandchildren in school and worry for their safety. NRA Members are your friends and neighbors, the common man woman. We have doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professional people in our ranks. We have the same values, hopes, and dreams as those people I mentioned in the peaceful protest.

Mar 25, 2018, 3:45pm Permalink
Brian Graz

This pretty well sums up the dog n pony show we've been watching since Valentines Day... "There were perhaps five or six teenagers in today's crowd." If the March 14 school walkout was held on a Saturday most of the "children" wouldn't have been there.

Mar 25, 2018, 2:05pm Permalink
Brian Graz

NRA membership is somewhere between under 5 million to under 6 million. In a country with about 85 million gun owners, I wouldn't say that NRA is as powerful as many accredit it... I'd say, simply the voices of the gun-owners, along with those who value Constitutional guarantees is the power. Even though many of that group aren't involved and many don't even vote, the political goons realize that too aggressive gun control push, and/or restrictions on Constitutional rights, will change that quickly [in fact that is happening].

FWIW: For years while he was a sitting Congressman Ron Paul reiterated that GOA (Gun Owners of America) was the 2nd Amendment lobby that made a difference. They are who I belong and donate to.

Mar 25, 2018, 2:34pm Permalink
David Barber

From a neutral standpoint it does appear there are more people in favor of gun regulation than there are against it. Blaming the media and Soros does not change this. I personally do not believe that regulations will solve this issue on its own but could be a positive factor if implemented correctly. I will honestly be happy with guns or without guns, hopefully people can find common ground on this entire issue because as a parent I want my children to live a long happy life. And I think we all agree that this is an issue, and words alone are not going to be the solution.

Mar 26, 2018, 12:46am Permalink
Eric Dunn

Maybe we should just concentrate on enforcing the laws that are currently out there rather than just pass more unenforceable laws.

Mar 26, 2018, 4:19pm Permalink
Tim Miller

Enforcing existing laws rather than passing new ones? You mean like the laws that mandate checking to see if a person is mentally stable before buying a gun? Oh, right... never a law, just an Executive Order shot to heck, so to speak, by the current President while stating these shootings are a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

How about the law to mandate a background check before any gun purchase? Oh, right... that dastardly "gun show loophole"...

Existing laws are not cutting it.

Mar 26, 2018, 4:32pm Permalink
david spaulding

Tim, will you explain the "gun show loophole" ? please, I really want to read this... and will you share the new laws you feel we need.? please, I want to read this too..... thanks Tim.

Mar 26, 2018, 6:21pm Permalink
Jim Urtel Jr

During my time in PA I attended a few of these gun shows where they gave you free booze hoping you`d spend more and you could buy just about anything with no questions asked. SKS`s, AK`s, exploding rounds and in one case, a bazooka! There is a problem here.

Mar 26, 2018, 7:12pm Permalink
Rich Richmond


There was never an Executive Order by any President mandating a Mental Health check to purchase a firearm. Yes, I get it, you don’t like President Trump.

There is no National Data Base to draw on to do a Mental Health Check, and it currently may be against HIPAA Laws to do so. You also have the misguided and often abused youthful offender status, where records are sealed defeating this aspect of a thorough background check.

When you go into a fine Gun Shop like Batavia Marine, Walmart, K-Mart, etc., you are mandated by Federal Law to fill out an ATF 4473 Federal Background Form before you can purchase a firearm, rifles, pistols or shotguns.

Link to the form:…

You must fill out the form completely. The 4473 form asks you if you are the actual buyer, (not the actual buyer, and it is an illegal straw purchase) have you been convicted of a crime, are you mentally stable, etc., and for more questions, go to the link and download the form.

People are denied a purchase for good reasons, (criminal records), and there is seldom a follow up by law enforcement. It is against the law to lie on the form, and against the law for a mentally ill person or criminal to attempt to purchase a firearm.

When you go to a gun show in New York, all sales, private or otherwise require a 4473 Form and a background check, and again there is no follow-up by Law Enforcement when denied. We need to enforce the existing laws with a vengeance, stiffen the penalties for any convicted felon possessing a gun.

Mar 26, 2018, 8:58pm Permalink
Rich Richmond


I'm glad we can finally agree on something. Many other States also require the 4473 Form be filled out at gun shows.

Mar 27, 2018, 12:37pm Permalink

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