Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh graces vigil after Parkland school shooting


A vigil for Florida's school shooting victims featured Grateful Dead co-founder Phil Lesh.

"I am feeling such rage right now," Lesh told the gathering outside his San Rafael restaurant. "And I feel such anguish and grief thinking about these bright spirits cut off before their time."

Almost 100 people clustered around fire pits and lit candles at Beach Park in the Canal District on Tueday, as Lesh somberly read the names of the 17 Parkland victims, and passed large photos of each person through the crowd.  

"We want to throw out the politicians who are getting money from the NRA," said Helen Rosen, a volunteer with Moms Demand Action. 

Rosen and another activist from MDA instructed the crowd on constructive steps they can take. 

"We emphasize that we're not trying to take away people's guns," said Molly Coomber, "we are looking for common sense gun laws and gun safety." 

Moms Demand Action was formed after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012. 

Local chapters network nationally to work on such issues as background checks, waiting periods, and "red flag" laws allowing guns to be confiscated from those deemed violent or unstable. 

Activists say when a state as permissive as Florida is considering reforms, there is real opportunity for dialogue and change.   

"Can you reduce gun violence by 20 percent, 50 percent?" said Coomber, "because any reduction, any life saved is worth enacting a law." 

At Sportsman's Arms in Petaluma, longtime gun dealer Gabriel Vaughn acknowledged the changing climate around gun access.

"Things shouldn't stay the way they are," Vaughn told KTVU, "and there seem to be so many things that could be done, but both sides seem to antagonize the other so much, everyone withdraws."

Vaughn hopes middle ground can be found, but that reforms are thoughtful and effective. 

He showed KTVU an AR-15 style rifle in his store. 

"In this state, we can't even take the magazine out, without breaking down the gun," he demonstrated.

But alongside that weapon, a wooden semi-automatic rifle, every bit as deadly, but without the ammunition restrictions of the first. 

"This is essentially the same firearm, but it's just not as scary looking," said Vaughn, "so the AR is based more on emotion."

Vaughn says stricter laws should also be smarter laws.

"I can sell you a black Glock pistol, but I can't sell you the one that is tan-colored, because it's not legal in California," he noted, 

"and there are so many weird laws that do nothing to help with safety, nothing." 

Vaughn also points to last year's murderous spree in Tehama County. 

That gunman threatened his neighbors repeatedly, before he killed them, yet law enforcement never seized his weapons.   

"They had a restraining order, they called and called and called. Did what they were supposed to do, but the guy still went and shot everybody because nobody went to check on him."  

Compromise remains the challenge, for those on all sides of the gun reform debate. 

But the Marin chapter of Moms Demand Action grew by almost 200 people in just a few days. 

People are passionate and motivated to prevent future massacres, however they can. 

""This is a horrible state of affairs," Lesh said, before leading a sing-along with the crowd, " l mean, who are we if we can't protect our children?"   




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