PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Today is the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
The civil rights leader was shot and killed in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn.
King was there to lead a march to support the city’s striking sanitation workers.
To honor his memory, there are some local events taking place as part of the National Day of Action.
On Monday morning, several groups wanted to make sure the public understood that they are not against gun ownership. All they want is for criminals to not have access to firearms.
“Forty-three years ago today, civil rights legend Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed by an assassin’s bullet. And just two years ago today, Pittsburgh Police Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II were senselessly gunned down while answering a domestic disturbance call in Stanton Heights,” Time Stevens of B-PEP said.
With those tragedies as a sad backdrop, leaders of various anti-violence organizations and civil rights groups gathered to call for more focus on cracking down on illegal gun sales.
So far, 15 people have been murdered in the Pittsburgh area this year. On average, there are 1,200 homicides in the state every year.
“Almost all those murders are committed by criminals using illegal handguns,” Stevens said.
“We’re not against responsible handgun ownership or the hunting tradition in western Pennsylvania or the rights of sportsmen. All we want is simply to reduce access to illegal handguns,” Jayna Davis of Ceasfire PA said.
However, the murder of the greatest civil rights leader of all-time and the murder of three very brave police officers doesn’t tell the complete story of the group’s pleas.
It involves countless people, young men back from college and 8-year-old girls who all suffered the same fate.
“Until you are there first-hand and lose a child for yourself, there is no experience like that,” Rev Glenn Grayson said.
Grayson’s son, Jeron, was gunned down while home from college. The gun used to commit the crime was stolen.
Meanwhile, Terri Coles was shot twice and lost her future husband and 8-year-old child.
Finally, the panel called for a national registry to assure no one with mental disabilities gains access to a firearm. They also want the federal government to close loop holes at gun shows that allow people to purchase firearms without a background check.