MINNEAPOLIS - It's been just a year since Marsha Mayes' three-year-old son, Terrell Mayes, Jr., was killed by a stray bullet.
At Ascension Church, she was in tragic company Sunday afternoon, ringing a bell in his memory, alongside dozens of others who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
As memories brought tears for victims, community leaders called for a future free of gun violence.
Seventeen-year-old Sami Rahamim was among them, telling people in the packed pews that the time for change is now.
"There aren't ten minutes where I don't think about the horror that has come down on me, my community, my family, and the Accent community," said Rahamim.
He was on a college visit in Wisconsin when he learned of the Accent Signage shooting through Twitter. Now, he's sharing another message in memory of his father, Reuven Rahamim, the owner of the company, along with five other Accent employees killed that September day.
"Thirty-four Americans are killed every day to gun violence and 48,000 more will be killed in President Obama's term unless we act today," he said.
Rahamim is lending his voice to Protect Minnesota, a non-profit working to end gun violence, urging community members and victims of gun violence to put pressure on lawmakers to lead the way on gun reform.
Protect Minnesota's Executive Director, Heather Martens, traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with Vice President Joe Biden, advocating for background checks on all gun purchases.
The group MAD DADS believes victims offer a voice in gun reform too.
"The pain makes life much worse," said V.J. Smith, National President of MAD DADS. "Turn your pain to passion."
Perhaps no one knows more than the mothers of the group, From Death to Life.
Fifteen mothers in the organization have lost their children to gun violence, their sorrow somehow traced back to a gun.
"It's possible to move on, possible to heal, possible to forgive," said founder Mary Johnson.
For Rahamim, who has already shared his message at a gun summit in New York City, peace and healing comes only through action.
"I implore you speak out to prevent gun violence," he said. "We have shed enough blood, we have shed enough tears."
Protect Minnesota welcomes the public to another meeting about ending gun violence, Thursday January 17, at 6:30pm, at the Frogtown Family Lofts Community Room on 653 Galtier Street in St. Paul.
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