Residents rallied Saturday night in Teaneck to call for stricter gun control laws in the wake of a shooting rampage that left 20 children and six adults dead at a Connecticut elementary school.
The crowd, organized quickly through the Internet and by the Ethical Culture Society, held candles and carried signs calling for tighter regulation of firearms and an end to gun violence.
Teaneck resident Jim Norman said he hoped to continue holding rallies and push elected leaders to act.
"We feel it is time to move from mourning to action," he said. "This is the first in this area of what we hope will be non-stop action until America comes to its senses."
Norman, a parent who said he was brought to tears by the killings, called for restrictions on the purchase of military-style weapons. Adam Lanza, identified by state police as the 20-year-old Newtown gunman, killed 26 people at the school with a high-powered rifle, shooting children as young as six multiple times and inflicting what the state medical examiner described as "devastating" injuries.
Weapons linked to the shooting were legally registered to Lanza's mother Nancy, who he killed before opening fire at the school, according to reports.
The national debate over gun control has emerged following other mass killings in recent years, but did not produce any major revisions to federal gun laws. Norman said a strong public outcry was the only way to force policy changes.
"It won't make a difference unless people rise up and make it make a difference and that's what we're doing," he said of the Teaneck effort.
Art Vatsky, of Teaneck, pointed to the efforts of state and congressional leaders.
"This gratuitous bloodshed with automatic weapons, quantities of ammunition and body armor was not meant to be protected by the Second Amendment," he told Patch after the rally.
While the Newtown rampage marked another grim milestone - the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school - a Brooklyn social worker at the rally said young people were impacted by violence on a daily basis.
"I've been in schools where every year there's another murder from a student, to a teacher to a mother of a child," she said. "I want us not to forget about the kids everyday who are dying."