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Bridgeport Mayor, Pastor Join Push For More Responsible Gun Industry

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch speaks at the Don't Stand Idly By press conference, Mon., Nov. 10, at the Margaret Morton Center on Broad Street. The campaign is being run by Metro IAF and CONECT.
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch speaks at the Don't Stand Idly By press conference, Mon., Nov. 10, at the Margaret Morton Center on Broad Street. The campaign is being run by Metro IAF and CONECT. Video Credit: Salvatore Trifilio
Members of Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut join together in an interfaith prayer to conclude their press conference, before traveling to one of seven US gun manufacturers, to submit a request for information.
Members of Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut join together in an interfaith prayer to conclude their press conference, before traveling to one of seven US gun manufacturers, to submit a request for information. Photo Credit: Salvatore Trifilio
The Rev. Anthony Bennett, a Baptist pastor in Bridgeport, speaks at the Don't Stand Idly By press conference Monday.
The Rev. Anthony Bennett, a Baptist pastor in Bridgeport, speaks at the Don't Stand Idly By press conference Monday. Photo Credit: Salvatore Trifilio

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The mayor of Bridgeport and a prominent pastor joined together to announce their plan to combat gun-related violence, not through legislation, but through the gun market itself, in a press conference Monday at the Margaret Morton Center in Bridgeport.

The Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (Metro IAF), in cooperation with Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, announced the next stage of their Don’t Stand Idly By campaign, with the support of Mayor Bill Finch and officials from Newtown and Hamden.

“We are here to leverage the buying power of the state,” said the Rev. Anthony Bennett, co-chair of Do Not Stand Idly By. About 40 percent of the gun market is controlled by the public sector, such as police departments, said Bennett, pastor at Mount Aery Baptist Church in Bridgeport.

“We are here to push the gun industry to act,” he added.

The news conference was just one of many similar coordinated actions that took place throughout the country Monday, in states from Maryland to Georgia. After gathering at the Margaret Morton Center, organizers in 59 jurisdictions across 13 states, delivered requests for information to seven major gun manufacturers, such as Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Mass., Metro IFA officials said.

These requests for information will provide officials - who include mayors, governors, police chiefs, sheriffs and county executives - with information regarding their distribution practices, safety technologies and cooperation with law enforcement.

By creating an incentive, Don’t Stand Idly By is hoping to bring real change to the gun industry. The most responsible companies will earn portions of the 40 percent market share commanded by the public sector.

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom in Mahwah, N.J., said at the news conference Monday believes it is time to hold the industry accountable.

“[Gun Manufacturers] are going to say this isn’t our problem. They’re going to say we make [guns] and we are not responsible for what happens with them after they’re sold,” Mosbacher said. “Whose problem is it?”

Many officials who spoke made a point to mention that the issue of guns falling into the wrong hands is a national problem that affects us all. Hamden Mayor Scott Jackson took the opportunity to show how his town, one that is “urban and suburban and rural and farm land” is a perfect example.

“This is not an urban issue,” Jackson said. “This is a community issue.

“I drive past the place where Eli Whitney revolutionized the firearm, every day. He did it then, we can do it now.”

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