Both the morning and evening sessions featured Jennifer McNamara, chairman of the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force, who outlined some of the group’s work, which includes supporting the Norwalk Domestic Violence Crisis Center and raising general awareness of domestic violence. Their efforts include inviting guest speakers for community events and hanging purple ribbons each October — one ribbon per domestic incident reported in Wilton that year.
Ms. McNamara urged listeners to keep the center’s phone number handy: 1-888-774-2900.
“With 105 ribbons hanging in Wilton [in October], the chances of you knowing someone in town who is the victim of domestic violence is quite great,” she said. “Be there for them; don’t be judgmental; help them get help.”
According to FBI statistics, four incidents of domestic violence go unreported for every one that is, Ms. McNamara said.
She also discussed the One Billion Rising campaign that will take place worldwide Feb. 14 to raise awareness of violence against women.
Ms. McNamara, a mother of three girls, also spoke at the evening session, saying that she will not stand for a current United Nations statistic that one in three women at some point in their lives will be beaten or raped.
“With a current population of seven billion, that adds up to more than one billion women and girls,” she said.
While the social and emotional cost of domestic violence is high, there is a financial cost as well. Ms. McNamara said it cost the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, which has offices in Stamford and Norwalk, about $11,000 to aid and relocate just one Wilton family last year.
The DVCC offers a variety of services for victims of domestic violence, ranging from safe houses, a shelter, counseling, legal services, a 24-hour hotline, and family and children’s services. Information: dvccct.org.
She is hoping the task force can sell T-shirts that say “Wilton Rising” for the event, and she is working on getting the schools involved.
“I think it is very important for Wilton to get together … we’re a town that’s been affected,” she said.
The crisis center will have gatherings in Stamford and Norwalk Feb. 14.
“I urge you to take part in it,” she said. For more information, Ms. McNamara may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harrison DeStefano and Lucy Davies, who have organized a Facebook campaign aligned with the group Connecticut Against Gun Violence, gave a report on gun violence at the morning meeting.
“We have 350 followers,” Ms. Davies said of their Facebook page. “We are a group of concerned Connecticut citizens … to provide a resource on facts on gun violence in America.”
According to the group’s mission statement, it is “looking for rational, meaningful and reasonable steps as a response to gun violence.”
Among the facts they cited were:
• More women are murdered in the United States than in any other high-income country. The United States accounts for 32% of women in 25 high-income countries but 70% of gun deaths suffered by women. That is according to the American Medical Women’s Association.
• Twenty-one states have a worse “death rate by guns” than Mexico, which is 11 per 100,000. Wyoming and Louisiana topped the list with 18.1 per 100,000.
• Almost 35% of U.S. homes have at least one firearm.
• If there is a gun in her home, a woman is five times more likely than other women to become a victim of domestic homicide.
• Men in homes with guns are 10.4 times more likely to die from suicide.
• Each year from 2003 to 2007 an average of 62 children aged 0 to 14 were accidentally killed by guns.
Mr. DeStefano said the group is looking for the following:
• Background checks for all gun buyers and licensing of all dealers, even at gun shows.
• Expanded and strengthened bans on assault weapons with no grandfathering, and promotion of buy-backs.
• No high-capacity clips.
Information: CT Against Gun Violence Wilton Chapter on Facebook or email email@example.com.
At the evening session, Ron Pinciaro, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, discussed his group’s efforts — funded entirely by contributions of private donors — to reduce gun violence through a “common-sense approach to legislative advocacy,” a mission of the group since 1993.
Mr. Pinciaro said Connecticut needs to adopt a comprehensive bill to strengthen the assault weapons ban, limit ammunition capacities of various weapons, and establish a practice of universal background checks.
He urged residents to write letters to their local newspapers, forward group news alerts, and sign up as supporters of gun-control legislation. A “March for Change” will be held on Feb. 14 at the State Capitol in Hartford, and residents can sign up at marchforchange.org. Information: cagv.org.
Ms. Davies’ and Mr. DeStefano’s group is arranging buses to Hartford for the March for Change.
A local resident and NRA member who attended the evening meeting and requested anonymity said Mr. Pinciaro’s efforts are misguided and not reaching the root of the gun-violence problem.
He said the goal of many activists now is to remove all semi-automatic rifles, leaving state residents with only “revolvers, rifles, and double-barreled shotguns.”
He cited a Jan. 9 incident in Loganville, Ga., in which a mother with two nine-year-old twins shot an intruder five times with a handgun — upon being confronted in her crawl space where she had secured the children, after hearing the man break into the house with a crowbar.
The intruder nevertheless managed to walk away from the house and drive away, before crashing into a wooded area from disorientation brought on by gun injuries, according to the Associated Press.
“What if the intruder had been armed?” the speaker said. “What if there had been a second assailant?”
The speaker said lowering ammunition capacities can be dangerous in terms of self-defense, and that in some residential areas of Connecticut it can take police 15 minutes to respond.
He did however agree with Mr. Pinciaro’s effort to crack down on “rogue dealers” and “straw buyers,” those who illegally make gun purchases on behalf of another person.
Anna Duleep, founder of the Norwalk chapter of Connecticut Against Gun Violence said there needs to be gun-reform legislation, and citizens are “rightly concerned after the tragedy at Sandy Hook.
“We must not forget that terrible morning — Dec. 14, 2012 — started out as a domestic violence incident,” she said.
“Once he murdered his own mother, the shooter was able to use her legally obtained guns to commit mass murder and his own suicide. The choice to keep a gun for protection is a highly personal one.”