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Elected officials, advocates, gun violence victims gather for National Day of Action

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FARMINGTON--"We are seeing the American people rise up,” Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty told a crowd at the UConn Health Center in Farmington on Wednesday, where she stood with other elected leaders, advocates and those affected by gun violence to push for stronger gun laws.

Connecticut’s elected leaders have been pushing hard for gun control laws following the terror attack in Orlando. It started with Senator Chris Murphy's nearly 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor earlier this month, and the movement continued with the historic Congressional sit-in last week. Still, no vote has passed in Washington, but that hasn't stopped the leaders from continuing to push.

Wednesday's Day of Action event was a strong showing of support from very different communities, all affected by gun violence.

One voice was Jillian Soto, who lost her sister Victoria during the Newtown tragedy.

"Vicky gave the ultimate sacrifice of her own life to protect the lives of her students, she is a true hero," said Jillian. "I can't change the past, and I can't bring my sister back, but I can continue to honor her and her bravery, by standing up to the gun lobby and the fight to disarm hate."

Others in attendance included LGBT rights advocates, who have been a huge part of the recent debate following the Orlando shooting, which took place in a gay nightclub. Those at the event reflected on Congress' inaction.

"To have the Congress not take any steps whatsoever to forward research on gun violence, to not enact legislation that prevents people from purchasing assault rifles is unconscionable and shameful,” said AIDS Connecticut’s Director of Public Policy Shawn Lang.

The pain from gun violence also being felt in local urban communities.

Reverend Sam Saylor, who has lost his son, spoke during the event while holding up his cell phone with a picture of his granddaughter, Saylor. He said, "Little girls like this got to talk to their father through a metal urn. That's the only relationship she has with him. Her story is just as real."

Also in the room were members of the Muslim faith, who issued a call for unity and tolerance.

"The Ahmadiyya Muslim community has always been and will be at the forefront of rejecting all forms of terror and hate,” said Imam Hamid Nasir Malik.

The event ended with a Muslim prayer and encouraging words.

On the other side of the issue, gun rights advocates are criticizing Connecticut's elected leaders, saying they are politicizing recent tragedies.