EUGENE, Ore. -- A crowd gathered on the footsteps of the old Federal Building in Eugene Sunday night to remember those who died from gun violence.
The vigil is part of a nationwide campaign happening in 32 cities across the country.
“Too Many Victims Lost to Gun Violence,” the campaign’s name, is also its message.
Ceasefire Oregon, one of the campaign’s sponsors, reported that at least 14 shootings happened in Eugene and Springfield last year, which left nine dead and six injured.
“This is an increase from last year, and the year before that and the year before that,” said Balder Odinson, one of the group’s coordinators. “This has to stop.”
Odinson said he grew up in a gun family, and as a teenager experienced the dangers of firearms firsthand.
“I was at a shooting, unfortunately, where one teenager shot another,” said Odinson on Sunday, standing on the steps of the Federal Building on 7th Ave. and Pearl St. “A few years before that a friend of mine committed suicide with his family’s gun.”
Now a volunteer coordinator with Ceasefire Oregon, he said the problem in Lane County is simple—it’s too easy for the wrong people to get guns.
“It’s the ease at which people get guns that shouldn’t have them that’s the problem,” said Odinson. “The people that abuse them are too easily getting a hold of them.”
Last week in Springfield, Odinson said the shooting death of Steven Ogg by his younger brother on the Emerald Empire Gun Range should never have happened.
“This boy grew up around guns,” said Odinson. “His family took care of the gun club, and yet it still happened.”
Still fresh in many minds around the community is the murder of Eugene Police Officer Chris Kilcullen, who was shot by a woman after a traffic stop in Springfield.
Over at the Springfield Justice Center, Sergeant Richard Jones said there is something the public can do.
“Don’t leave your weapons in cars,” said Jones at the center on Sunday. “In your home where you’re going to secure them, secure them in a gun safe.”
“Don’t keep them loaded,” he added.
“Every shooting that happens,” said Odinson, “it’s not just the shooter and the victim that are involved. Everyone the victim knew—their friends, family and co-worker—the shooter’s friends, family and co-workers. So, it radiates throughout the community.”