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Rally to stop gun violence held in St. Pete after Uvalde, Buffalo massacres

Moms Demand Action in Pinellas County, along with community leaders, held the event at Williams Park.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Moms Demand Action in Pinellas County and other organizations held a rally at Williams Park.

The mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York sparked more calls for change. The event was dubbed "Honor With Action: A Rally Against Gun Violence."

On Tuesday, a gunman killed 19 elementary-aged students and two teachers. Ten days before, another gunman killed 10 people in what authorities described as “racially motivated violent extremism.”

Mourners and speakers said they wish they weren't holding vigils anymore. They worry not about if, but about when this happens again.

"My kids had two more days of school left and dropping them off was hard and scary," volunteer Kelly Moore said. 

Despite the recent tragedies, Moore said she's feeling hopeful more people are paying attention to the need for change including stronger background checks and red flag laws.

Others who attended the rally called for a ban on assault weapons and denounced the National Rifle Association.

"It's just unbelievable that the country is going through this," Geanne Marks said. She brought a sign holding pictures of the 19 Robb Elementary students killed. 

But the rally was also a call to end the gun violence happening in Tampa Bay and to honor all lives lost to it.

"I saw my whole world crumbling around me and there was nothing I could do about it," Maress Scott said to the crowd.

He talked about the moment he lost his son Marquiss Scott to gun violence. He died Sept. 2019.

Scott now serves as executive director of Quis For Life, an organization that aims to prevent gun violence. 

Scott also pushed to hold those in charge accountable, a sentiment shared by many who are demanding more from lawmakers.

"We do not support murders. And if you're complicit, if you're sitting by, and doing nothing about it, we're not supporting you either," Scott said.

Moore said reform is important but it will also take change at every level to stop the senseless shootings. She encouraged everyone to get involved in some way to help end the violence. 

The National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention this weekend. Officials who spoke at the convention argued restricting access to firearms is not the answer to preventing future tragedies.

10 Tampa Bay spoke with Dr. Bryanna Fox, co-director of the USF Center for Justice Research & Policy. Fox studied the correlation between accessibility to guns and gun violence. 

She said the data conclusively suggests gun access and availability will not reduce gun violence. However, unrestricted access to deadly weapons has been driving up numbers.

"In the United States, it seems to be so much more apparent because they have so much more access to guns than anywhere else," Fox said. 

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