CAPE GIRARDEAU (WSIL) -- Gun violence in Missouri rose to record levels in 2020 with more than 720 people killed in gun-related cases, according to Gun Violence Archive.
That's up 140 people from 2019, with 2021 already recording 190 deaths as of April 9. A traveling Memorial, focusing on children lost to gun violence is in Cape Girardeau this weekend to raise awareness and create conversations.
Forty-six t-shirts on display make up the memorial, they represent the 46 children in the State of Missouri who lost their lives to gun violence in the year 2020.
Moms Demand Action leader Lynda Stewart, South East Missouri organizer for the display says, the ages of the 46 children range between 6 months, to 17-years old.
"We wanted to bring awareness to the fact that even though we've been suffering a pandemic in 2020, that the epidemic of gun violence continued as well," says Stewart, adding that the impact of those lives lost reaches beyond the individual.
"Then there are also 46 families whose lives have been forever changed, by this tragedy," says Stewart. She says Moms Demand wants to bring awareness to the issues of responsible gun-ownership.
"Our legislatures seem to think that relaxing our gun laws will make us safer," says Stewart. "But it's not, it's putting us all in danger."
Stewart says since the state removed permits to conceal carry in 2016, gun-related death increased at a faster pace then prior to the cancelation. She says Moms Demand is not against gun ownership.
"We are mothers and others." says Stewart. "We are moms, dads, aunts and uncles. We are survivors of gun violence and, we are also gun owners."
Moms Demand believes in the Second Amendment, says Stewart, along with "responsible," gun ownership.
"I think that's something we can all agree upon," says Stewart.
The traveling memorial is on display throughout the entire weekend in Cape Girardeau. Be SMART for Kids, an organization that works on "best-practices" for gun safety is giving away free, cable gun-locks Saturday afternoon.
The group says it is encouraged by President Biden's recent Executive Order on, what they describe as, a "gun epidemic" and they want more action by Congress, starting with passing an enhanced-background check law.