Close to 40 individuals gathered in Sag Harbor's American Legion Post 388 Friday morning – exactly one week after 20 children and five adults were killed in a Connecticut elementary school and another woman killed in her home – in a vigil meant to reflect upon the 26 people killed last Friday, and bring attention to a ban on assault rifles.
Over the past week, debate over gun control and the country's mental health system have come to the fore as many wonder how or why the events in Newtown, Conn. were able to occur.
Copies of a petition calling for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning assault weapons was available for individuals.
"We want to dedicate ourselves to doing something different as we join the whole nation in pausing and remembering those who died last week in Newtown," said the Rev. Alison Cornish, of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork, who organized Friday morning's vigil.
While the issue of "politicizing" the deaths that occurred in Newtown has concerned some, Cornish said that considering the role government plays in regulating guns, there is no denying that.
"We have a system of government that affects many parts of our lives, from who can carry a gun to who can receive mental health. If you say that's politicizing, that's a political issue."
The petition, in part, states: "We urge President Obama to sign an Executive Order banning the sale of assault weapons and importantly the ammunition that these weapons use, effective immediately and until Congress acts to ban the sale and ownership of wuch weapons and ammunition."
During the ceremony itself, Cornish rang a Tibetan singing bowl, a kind of bell, 26 times as the group who came stood in a circle in remembrance in each one of the shooting victims.
Friday morning's vigil lasted about a half hour, with clergy members from the United Methodist Church of Sag Harbor, Temple Adas Israel of Sag Harbor and Christ Episcopal of Sag Harbor attending as well. Rabbi Leon Morris, of the Temple, blew a Shofer in celebration of what he and many others hope will be a new view toward guns – namely, assault rifles – in the future.
Margaret Logan, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church who attended, noted that she attended "not because it's the only thing we can do. But this is the most cogent way for us to address this tragedy."
Held at the American Legion post, several veterans were in attendance beyond members of the local congregations and others.
"This is something that has to be acted on," said John Pino, a Navy veteran. "Sometimes we end up being a prisoner to our own freedoms. We have people who give their lives for this country, which gives us so many things. But those people did not have to give their lives last week."