No peaceful community ever imagines it will fall victim to wanton gun violence, but one year ago today, that nightmare became a tragic reality for Ross Township in Northern Pennsylvania. On August 5, 2013 a gunman with a history of mental illness interrupted a township supervisors’ meeting and killed three community members and wounded others. In remembrance of those who lost their lives and those who saved lives that day, Andrew Scott of the Pocono Record penned a short piece to honor the victims’ families and take stock of the township’s recovery, one year later.
Of course, each lost life has left a gaping wound in the community. Dave Fleetwood, Gerard Kozic, and James LaGuardia all dedicated countless hours to their township and were beloved by their neighbors. Each died while moving into the line of fire to protect others from the shooter.
Kozic and LaGuardia, in particular, shared a common goal of fighting for smart gun policy in Ross Township. In fact, Linda Kozic—widow of the late Gerard Kozic—has taken up her husband’s fight for a safer community. “She plans to continue her husband’s push for more extensive background checks for gun owners and limiting access to assault weapons not used for hunting,” writes Scott.
Likewise, James LaGuardia’s son, Rev. Joe LaGaurdia—a Baptist pastor from Georgia—has dedicated himself to combating gun violence. He described his father as a man who “believed in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, but also in practical legislation to help reduce gun violence across the nation.” Following his father’s death, Joe LaGuardia wrote on his personal blog, “I feel that we need greater gun control not out of some naïve idea that it will curb all gun violence, but because it communicates something deeper about our nation’s values concerning the sacredness of life and the sanctity of our nation’s welfare.”
Joe LaGuardia’s message is an important reminder of what is at stake when we consider improving our gun safety measures. Every life in our community is a cherished and sacred one, and we risking losing those lives to tragic shootings like this one when we fail to enact smart firearms policy.
On this one year anniversary, the mourning community of Ross Township and the families of the victims are in our thoughts. We hope that their demonstrated commitment to a safer Pennsylvania will inspire our leaders and representatives to take similar action.
Read Andrew Scott’s entire article here.