Central New Yorkers gather outside the Everson Museum before a march and rally in Syracuse to join National Day of Action to Demand an End to Gun Violence. June 11, 2022. Photo by Mike Greenlar.

More than 300 people rallied Saturday in Syracuse to push for stricter gun reform after mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas. 

The march in Syracuse was one of many national marches urging politicians to pass comprehensive gun reform. On Sunday, U.S. Senate negotiators announced a bipartisan deal to curb gun violence.

Marchers walked from the Everson Museum of Art to the James M. Hanley Federal Building at about noon. 

A march to demand legislation addressing gun violence in Syracuse proceeds down Washington Street to the Federal Building. Protesters in Central New York join National Day of Action to Demand an End to Gun Violence, June 11, 2022. Photo by Mike Greenlar.

Former candidate for Congress Dana Balter opened the event with call-and-response chants with the crowd. 

Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens, Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson, Councilor Rasheada Caldwell, Legislator Mary Kuhn and congressional candidate Francis Conole were among the politicians and community members who attended the rally. 

Caldwell and Mothers Against Gun Violence President Lepa Jones bemoaned the use of ghost guns and trafficked guns in crime in the city. 

“If you lose your child and you still come out to fight the fight, you’re a warrior,” Hudson said to the crowd. 

Three area high schoolers – Joe Pastore, JJ Braverman and Sravan Kodali – said schools have become scarier because of mass shootings. 

Braverman read from a school publication from 2018 about how mass shootings continued in spite of the outrage after a school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Pastore read the names of those killed in the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999. 

A woman holds up a poster showing pictures of those who died in Columbine in 1999. Central New York protestors joined the National Day of Action to Demand an End to Gun Violence, June 11, 2022. Photo by Mike Greenlar.

Donna Oppedisano, a teacher in the Jamesville-DeWitt district said teachers feel that, “Living with the weight of this responsibility is more than they can handle.” 

She said that after some of the recent shootings, she asked herself, “Are we safe? Could this happen here?”

After helping to open the rally, Balter also helped close it. 

“It’s time to tell the gun manufacturers, the NRA and that entire lobby go f— itself,” she said. “It’s time to tell any politicians who give them cover to go f— themselves, too.” 

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Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.