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Vigil to honor Sandy Hook victims

SOLANA BEACH — To commemorate the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, as well as the 60,000 American victims of gun violence since December 2012, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Dieguito is holding a one-hour candlelight vigil Dec. 14.

“Gun violence prevention is the moral and ethical dilemma of today,” Steve Bartram, UUFSD event coordinator, said.

The vigil is one way to “understand, impact and change how we act toward the issue,” he added. “How we do that is a significant question.”

Bartram said his role as “a strong advocate to end gun violence” is not an after-the-fact thought.

“After 20 years with the Marine Corps I’m familiar with weapons,” he said. “I know what they can and are supposed to do.”

He said the issue “was brought to my front door” in 2010 when his 15-year-old nephew died of a self-inflicted gunshot from his grandfather’s weapon.

“We will never know if it was accidental or suicide,” Bartram said. “What we do know is a gun caused his death.

“As a parent I can’t imagine any greater pain than to see the death of a child,” he added. “It’s beyond belief.”

Several parents experienced that suffering firsthand on Dec. 14, 2012, after 20-year-old Adam Lanza took the lives of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary. Before driving to the Newtown, Connecticut, school Lanza shot and killed his mother.

Following the tragedy the all-volunteer Newtown Foundation was formed to provide comfort, education and other support and resources to families and communities impacted by gun violence in America.

UUFSD is joining the Newtown Foundation, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, States United to Prevent Gun Violence and the Washington National Cathedral in a nationwide vigil service of mourning and remembrance for all victims of gun violence in this country.  The event will start at 6 p.m. in the core area of UUFSD, 1036 Solana Drive.

“It takes an awful lot of inertia to get people involved in this,” Bartram said. “We need to stand up now so we never have to face this here. Just because it happened somewhere else doesn’t mean it can’t happen here.

“And I think that if we could find a way to engage in dialogue, maybe we can speak from our hearts rather than from anger and fear.”