Author Jennifer Weiss

Dozens came out Saturday to Lincoln Park, braving the icy weather to stand in solidarity with others rallying under the One Million Moms For Gun Control banner around the country. A march on Washington organized by the group, which formed after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., drew thousands to the nation's capital.

Mandi Perlmutter, co-leader of the New Jersey chapter of One Million Moms, spoke at the rally in Jersey City about how the organization's founder intended to bring "common sense to gun violence prevention just as MADD did for drunk driving."

"We are here today as evidence that we are not going to back down," Perlmutter said, "and we are going to keep the need for new and stronger gun laws on people's minds. We cannot allow people to just move on."

Mayor Jerramiah Healy was front and center at the rally, speaking to a crowd that included moms, dads, grandparents and concerned citizens from the local area and beyond.

Some at the march, including Healy, made it known that they were not trying to tread on Americans' right to own guns, but rather demanding a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips plus universal background checks on a national level.

"It's not about the Second Amendment," said Healy, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. It's about assault weapons, he said, "because they're weapons of war."

In the crowd and holding a sign that said "If you can ban big gulps, you can ban big guns" -- a reference to New York City's efforts to ban supersize sodas and other sweetened drinks -- Bergen County resident Esther Fletcher agreed. "Assault weapons only hurt people, it's inherent in the word," she said.

Fletcher is a teacher and founding member of Mothers Against Assault Weapons, which started as a group of moms over dinner. The group recently joined with One Million Moms and is about a hundred strong.

Robyn Platis of Leonia, who attended with her husband and young daughter, held a sign covered with her daughter's handprints.

"The NRA likes to say we'll pry their weapons from their cold, dead hands," Platis said. "We'd like to keep our hands warm and dry, and our kids' hands warm and dry."

She said news of Newtown had her in tears for a week. "I was spurred to do something this time so there won't be another time," she said.

A number of New Jersey politicians came out for the event, including former Gov. Jim Florio, Congressman Frank Pallone, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, State Sen. Sandra Cunningham, State Sen. Ray Lesniak, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Bayonne Mayor Mark Smith. Council President Peter Brennan and Jersey City Councilwoman-at-large Viola Richardson, who has announced she will run on Healy's ticket in May, were among the local politicians in attendance.

Oliver said the march was personal for her because in 1984, her cousin, a student at Morgan State University, was found dead in suburban Maryland of a gunshot wound to the head. She spoke of her aunt being escorted home from church by two Jersey City police officers and given the news.

"My family was devastated," Oliver said. "I know what gun violence does for families. It's not about your Second Amendment right to bear arms. It's about the safety of all citizens in this country."

Oliver said she was committed to working with the Legislature, Healy and activists across the state to support gun-control efforts at the state level.

Perlmutter noted the number of elected officials on the stage in her remarks. "New Jersey is ready to make sweeping changes," she said, "and be a model for the rest of the country."

Toward the end of the rally, Healy was presented with a $20,000 donation to Jersey City's Gun Buyback Program from Sims Metal Management, which will help the city fund another buyback like the one held earlier this month.

On a related note, the Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting today in Washington, D.C., for the first time since the mass shooting at Newtown, formalizing Congressional Democrats’ search for viable legislation to stem gun violence, according to the New York Times.

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Photos by Jennifer Weiss

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