Gun violence survivors protest outside Newtown-area Walmart - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Gun violence survivors protest outside Newtown-area Walmart

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DANBURY, CT (WFSB) -

Gun violence survivors joined dozens of Walmart customers to demand the retail giant honor a 2004 pledge and stop the sale of assault weapons and ammunition in their stores nationwide.

"We're here to represent the survivors of gun violence," the protesters shouted.

Gun violence survivors, consumer watchdogs and concerned Americans rallied outside the Walmart in Danbury and delivered a letter from survivors asking Walmart to honor the pledge.

"Members of the SumOfUs.org community are demanding that the nation's largest gun retailer stop breaking its 2004 promise to end the sales of assault weapons," said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, executive director of SumOfus.org. "If Walmart wants to call itself a family-friendly store, it needs to stop profiting off dangerous weapons designed to kill large numbers of people. Walmart has an opportunity to help put an end to these tragedies, and we demand that it join us in saying enough."

The gun violence survivors and advocates presented 300,000 signatures from all over the world to the store manager in Danbury. According to SumOfUs.org, the petition demands the company stop selling assault weapons and put people over profits.

"As an elementary school teacher, I am obligated to keep my students safe from harm," said fourth-grade teacher Lauren Buglino, who launched her petition on Change.org. "I want to see gun violence end, and a step in a positive direction would be for Walmart, the nation's largest gun retailer, to stop selling assault weapons completely."

The manager, who is a life-long resident of Newtown, accepted the box of signatures, which had a green ribbon on it for Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Walmart spokesman Kory Lundberg said, "Walmart currently limits the sales of (modern sporting rifles) to less than one-third of our stores, in addition to a number of other steps we take regarding the sale of firearms.

Lundberg went on to say, "We certainly understand there are a lot of thoughts on this issue on striking the right balance between serving our customers who are huntsmen and sportsmen."

A Walmart in Danbury, where a protest was held Tuesday morning, only sells ammunition and BB guns, but not assault rifles.

Protest organizers told Eyewitness News they knew that. However, they still thought the Danbury location would make a better point than protesting in Arkansas where the Walmarts do sell guns.

One of those people in attendance was Lori Haas, whose daughter was shot while she was attending Virginia Tech about five and half years ago.

"She was one of the survivors, so we're one of the lucky families," Haas said.

Haas told Eyewitness News that she is on a mission to help families that were not as lucky and that mission brought her to Danbury in an effort to support the families of the Newtown school shooting.

"Walmart is a responsible retailer, we understand that," she said. "But, we need these weapons off their shelves. They have no place in our communities and in our neighborhoods."

On Dec. 14, Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed his mother as she slept in her bed. He then traveled the few miles to Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he proceeded to shoot out a security window, make his way into the building and kill 20 children and six adults.

Pam Simon was shot more than two years ago in Tucson - while working on the staff of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She would like to see other Walmarts stop selling assault style rifles during the protest.

"Over half of the survivors of Jan. 8 are gun owners, and believe me, have the right to bear arms," Simon said. "I certainly believe that as well. But, I don't believe there is a reason to carry military-style assault weapons around."

Darren Wagner and his family moved to Newtown five years ago from Australia and they said to what they believed to be one of the safest towns in New England.

"It's just a tragic event and we're a small community," he said. "We shouldn't be worrying about our elementary schools."

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, Wagner's wife and his two teenage sons joined other people from Newtown  at the Walmart in Danbury. Wagner said he felt they had to speak out.

"I don't want ammunition sold out of this store just a few aisles down from the school supplies," he said.

Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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