WestportMoms group hosts antiviolence summit

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WESTPORT -

Concerned Westport residents met to discuss ways to prevent gun violence in the wake of a school massacre in Parkland, Florida, and what officials are calling a "near miss" at Staples High School.

More than 150 people, most of them Westport mothers, packed the Unitarian Church for a community discussion and a panel of experts. The group WestportMoms organized the event, called "Make it Stop."

"It's about changing the way we think about guns," says Selectman Melissa Kane, who moderated the panel. "It's about changing access to guns. It's about changing the way we think about and implement care for mental illnesses in this country."

Community members in attendance say that even making a small difference is worth it.

Among the panelists was Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting five years ago. He co-founded Sandy Hook Promise, which works to teach people how to identify the warning signs before something happens.

"I would give anything to turn the clock back and make Newtown a near miss," Barden says.

Other groups including Connecticut Against Gun Violence, the Newtown Action Alliance and the newly formed Westport chapter of Moms Demand Action also addressed the crowd. Organizers say they hope to mobilize the community's passion into advocacy and change.

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