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Monday, May 15, 2000

Million Mom March
‘a very emotional
experience,’ says rabbi

Avi Magid recalls 'a real sense
of sadness it was gun violence that
had to bring people together'

By Suzanne Tswei


Remarkable. That's the word Rabbi Avi Magid of Temple Emanu-El used over and over again to describe the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C.

"I have no way of knowing the number of people who were there; there were probably thousands and thousands of people. The sheer number -- to have that many people all in one place -- was remarkable.

"But it wasn't only that. It was remarkable to me that the people came in all sizes, all colors and all economic backgrounds. I haven't seen a rally like this since my college days," he said.

Magid, a gun-control advocate, flew to the mainland to join yesterday's march, which he described as more of a giant daylong rally. The crowd gathered on National Mall, a grassy strip flanked on one side by the Lincoln Memorial and the other by the Capitol.

In Honolulu yesterday, about 50 people also traded traditional Mother's Day celebrations for a rally at the state Capitol to support tougher firearms laws.

"You don't need a maternal instinct to tell you something is very wrong in this country when you look at how many people become victims of gun violence," said Frank Kuhl, whose 20-year-old son was killed last year during a botched burglary in British Columbia.

"Gerard was killed on April 3. I have twin daughters who were born on April 3. Last year, that also was Easter weekend. You understand our family finds it very difficult to celebrate now."

The Honolulu marchers listened to speeches and sounded the Liberty Bell at the Capitol 12 times in memory of the daily average of 12 children who fall victim to gun violence.

In Washington, D.C., women, children and men listened to speakers talk about slain family members and better gun-control legislation, Magid said.

"There were some very, very poignant moments," he said, particularly when mothers from Scotland recounted the killings of an entire class of kindergartners.

"To hear these mothers -- that was a very emotional experience. There was a real sense of sadness that it was this issue of gun violence that had to bring people together," Magid said.

He said the marchers called for "sensible" gun-control legislation, urging the nation to join in lobbying local and federal governments. Proposals included registration of firearms and requiring proof of firearms ownership for ammunition purchases.

The Legislature this session failed to pass proposals for gun re-registration and other firearms control bills.

Both Magid and Kuhl said they will be lobbying for gun control next year.

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