Westborough Mom To Share Story At Gun Control Rally

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A One Million Moms march was recently held in New York. Westborough resident Ilyse Levine-Kanji will speak at a local rally Saturday.
A One Million Moms march was recently held in New York. Westborough resident Ilyse Levine-Kanji will speak at a local rally Saturday. Photo Credit: OneMillionMomsForGunControl.org

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — When she speaks at a gun-control rally in front of the State House on Saturday, Westborough mom Ilyse Levine-Kanji will share her history — one that has been no stranger to gun violence. 

"Most people have a perception that gun violence happens in the inner city, and not to people like them," said Levine-Kanji, who also serves as the Chair of Westborough's School Committee.

"I think that with Sandy Hook, it just shows that gun violence can happen anywhere, to any of us," she said.

Her grandfather, Hans Wachtel, was murdered in the 1970s by hired gunmen. Years later, a 1993 mass shooting at a San Francisco office claimed the lives of nine people, including her boss and one of her clients. Levine-Kanji wrote of these tragedies on the National Public Radio blog, CommonHealth.

"The debate is often theoretical, and I think bringing a personal story helps people understand that this is not just a theoretical debate, and that it really affects real people," she said, "even 35 years later."

Levine-Kanji's story, along with others like it, helps drive the One Million Moms for Gun Control movement, which is sponsoring a Beltway March in Washington D.C. on Saturday to promote immediate "common-sense" legislation for gun control.

The Massachusetts chapter is holding a demonstration for those who can't make it to the Beltway March. The rally will run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Boston State House and will also feature Natick representative David Linski, who will detail his recently proposed gun control legislation for Massachusetts.

Levine-Kanji said she forwarded her article to Linski's office to help him with his presentation. They subsequently asked her to speak at the rally, which she said she was "very, very reluctant to do," having never spoken in public about her story. 

She said her pending presentation has been weighing heavily on her mind over the past week, but she's begun to view it as an opportunity. 

"I really do feel hopeful that real change is on the horizon," she said. 

The One Million Moms for Gun Control movement, according to a news release, has multiple goals, none of which are to ban guns.

"We simply support common-sense solutions to the overwhelming and increasing gun violence in America. Moms are an important voice, that when harnessed, will wield significant change," said the release. "There are 4 million NRA members; there are 84 million American moms."

The movement calls for banning bullet magazines of more than 10 rounds, requiring background checks for all gun purchasers, reporting sales of large quantities of ammunition to federal officials, and limiting the scope of concealed weapons laws at the state level, said the release. 

Levine-Kanji said her history is something she will never forget, and although she's nervous about her public talk Saturday, that history has also shaped how she lives her life.

"It made me realize how precious every minute of every day is," she said.

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Comments (66)

@jenvacca. It's comical, and sad that you just said "
that our Nation has protections in place to ensure that the Government set up by our Founding Fathers cannot became a tyranny."

You are right. It's the 2nd AMENDMENT.

No you can't put a missile in your back yard because the socialists already removed that right.
With the 2nd amendment Americans are supposed to have the right to obtain and maintain the same type of weapons that our Government uses. But the left wing abortionists have ended those rights.

If you want to save a life, start marching to ban abortions. They are the real murderers of our children.

Agreed. In many ways, we are killing ourselves as a country (even before being born!)... it makes no sense.
On another note, there are numerous everyday tools in the world that are not banned even though 500+ people were killed by hammers in the past year and 40,000+ people die in car accidents every year. The vast majority of people with guns are using them properly for the protective or sport tools that they are.
We have a violence problem in this country. We need to treat the problem at the source... and I believe that does tie right in with a lack of respect for and connection with fellow human life. I also believe that we need stronger communities, families, and faith. The more people connect electronically, it seems, the more isolated we become as individuals in a society.

Also, "practice makes perfect"...if someone wants to become better at a sport they participate in practice games and study footage of successful players. That is basically what violent video games and films are providing for wanna-be criminals (or vulnerable youths). Many seem to want to shrug that off because good people also have fun watching violent movies and playing games. The difference is that the non-criminals in the bunch learned from supportive parents and communities that those behaviors are not OK in real life. What happens when you take away the supportive parents or community and add a mental disorder to the mix?

I find it so amusing that many people try and use the argument that our Government may turn to tyranny and that is the reason that these weapons are needed. Couple of FACTS for you to consider. First the obvious- none of us were around when we were living under the forces of a tyrannical government. Study our system of government during a lucid moment and you will see that our Nation has protections in place to ensure that the Government set up by our Founding Fathers cannot became a tyranny. (hint- it is called the three branches of our government...one cannot have too much power). Then also, ready over Section V of the Constitution- that is the section about changes to the document being possible when deemed necessary.
And one question for the 2nd amendments zealots. The 2nd Amendment says that we can bear "arms". Can I put a missle silo in my backyard? Nuclear arms are ARMS aren't they? What you all have to decide, is whether or not restrictions are warranted. Because again, the 2nd amendment says arms, it does NOT specify which arms you get to have. So does that mean that NO restrictions are okay? If that is the case, where do I buy my Patriot Missle??

The Constritution did MUCH more than simply give the right to bear arms, and hiding behind a possible tyrannical government is simply nonsense.

Historically governments have been the antithesis of freedom. If you don't believe that governments inherently tend toward tyranny just look at history. Ask those who were murdered by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. etc. etc. There have also always been plenty of ordinary people willing to support those tyrants in carrying out their acts. Oh yes, don't forget that it can and has happened here too. Remember, for example, the interment of Japanese citizens during World War II under FD Roosevelt and the Sedition and Espionage Acts shredding the 1st Amendment under Woodrow Wilson during WW I. Yes, read the Constitution and then read history to understand how far our government (regardless of party) has gone to undermine it's basis. I think it's very naive to trust government at any level to protect your God given rights if they conflict with its agenda at any given time in history. Failure to give credence to these facts is simply hiding behind ignorance.

The Bill of Rights is masterful in it's simplicity and it means what it says. Philosophically, One really shouldn't care what weapons their neighbor has as long as their neighbor doesn't use those weapons to abridge anyone's right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. However, I must also insist on my God given right to have whatever weapons I deem necessary to protect me and my family in case my neighbor decides to trample on our rights. Period.

"Can I put a missle silo in my backyard?" - change the object to '120 foot long propane tanks' and we already know where you stand, nimby.

If you can get training on a nuclear weapon with all the current restrictions in place, and you are able to purchase one..... why not? Using the same arguments as everyone seems to be using (deaths per gun, guns per owner... and on) american based nukes are much safer than anything you could possibly cite - including propane. I would guess there are just as many injuries per year with a gas grill or heater as there are with a gun, and both would be much more than a nuke.

So, all of those "Executive Orders, Privilege" that Obama has been slamming down bypassing the other governing parties of the USA, is a figment of our imagination?

He has done nothing tyrannical, Congress has to pass them in order for the laws he wants to take effect. Do you know how many executive orders Reagan signed? I bet NO ONE called him Socialist, Facist, or tyrannical. (btw- he signed 381 in his Presidency. You can look them up in the National Archives website)

First of all, it's been announced today that Eric Holder, you know, the Fast and Furious guy, is starting the upgrade of the nics system, allowing local LEO access to FBI purchase history, and the .gov keeping records longer than they have ever done before. None of these have been voted on anywhere, by anyone - but it's starting today. Can't wait until your special savings card from Wegman's is hooked up to the .gov to see how much sudafed you've bought in the last 6 months
As far as the executive order count goes, it's the same issue with all facts - they can say anything you want them to - how damaging are 10 bad ones vs. how good are 50 good ones?

So you trust a group of shareholders whose goal is to maximize profit, rather then representatives of the people who you choose is goal is to make your life better?

That is just such a shocking contraindication I do not know where to begin.

When someone says "we are NOT trying to take away the 2nd amendment. We are proposing common sense regulations and restrictions on weapons " I know instinctively that their primary purpose is to erode the Constitution's fundamental 2nd amendment right. These recent proposals aren't "common sense" at all but are merely another attempt to erode our fundamental rights. Our Constitution has a Bill of Rights not a Bill of Needs! If a policeman needs a 15 or 30 round magazine in their semiautomatic weapon to protect themselves from criminals and crazies then common sense and the 2nd amendment require that the ordinary law abiding citizen trying to protect their home and family should have them too. Don't forget that when seconds count the police are only minutes away.

If we are going to start taxing fundamental rights let's start with a tax on speech. How about extracting a 10% tax on campaign contributions. Doing so would probably go a long way toward removing the national debt. It would also begin to put some common sense restrictions on the sociopaths who infest our government and constantly try to rewrite our Constitution.

"A well regulate militia"

You forgot that part.

The Second Amendment says: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
This seems to say that, should individual citizens deem it necessary, they can form a well-regulated militia and bring along their weapons. It does NOT seem to say that thay can carry their gun when strolling through the park, or going to the movies. What am I missing?

How do you define "well-regulated"?

The Black Panthers are well regulated. Should they own anti-aircraft guns?
How about land mines?

I do not define "well-regulated militia". The Supreme Court makes those decisions. However, the Founders were actually implying that, since they did not have a standing Army at the time, the citizens needed to be ready to take up arms in defense of their country.

going to the movies - interesting reference....

As you have quoted - 'shall not be infringed' - right! What gives you the right to tell me where I can and can't carry, park or movie theater? To do so should be viewed as infringing - we've given up to many of these little speedbumps already - bayonet lug? sure, who cares, ha ha ha..wait a minute, now we're down to ONE scary feature that qualifies it as an assault weapon? How did that happen? Why can't you buy single bottles of water in Concord, MA? little by little, we give out rights away and it needs to stop - maybe not with this topic, but eventually people have to take a stand for SOMETHING!

Bubbly...you scare the heck out of me. Carrying a gun where none should be carried only escalates the entire situation. What happens when someone else sees you packing your trusty .44 inside a movie theater or in a park with kiddies playing in the grass? Why, they will pull out their trusty .38 and plug away to ensure the safety of themselves, their families, and everyone else in the area. Do you not see how you inflame the situation? Consider: you are not allowed to yell 'fire' in a crowded movie theater (no, this is not a violation of your rights of free speech). So, too, you should have limits on where you carry your gun.

Again, we'll both agree that criminals don't pay much attention to laws - that's what makes them criminals. With that said, your statement of 'where none should be carried' scares the heck out of me. If I were carrying my .44 inside a theater, or in a park - that would be the last place a criminal would want to be, no? Let's take guns out of the equation - is your car more likely to be broken into in a dark back alley at 2am, or in a secured parking garage with security cameras at all times? Opportunity knocks, and criminals answer - How about a liquor store where the cashier is sporting a nice Don Hume holster with a fabulous 1911? If I were thinking about knocking over a liquor store, that would be pretty far down my list.

Finally, why would someone 'plug away' with their .38 if I wasn't doing anything wrong - or are you saying I would have backup in case anything happened? That would just make it twice as likely to be a place where criminals wouldn't frequent.

"wasn't doing anything wrong"? But...you look suspicious. And I see that you are carrying a gun. And you are walking toward the kiddies on the play ground. Uh oh...better stop you pre-emptively.
Do you not see how this kind of situation can quickly spiral out of control?

Thank you, Ilyse, for using your voice, and your life experience, to speak out for common sense gun control laws. We need sane and sensible policy -- it's a public health issue. Fewer guns, in competent and adequately trained hands only, is a safer and more sensible policy for America. Keep your courage -- you speak for millions of Moms. Remember we're with you.

public health:

health services to improve and protect community health, disease, especially sanitation, immunization, and preventive medicine. This is what public health is.

"it's a public health issue" - right, like 17ounce soda pops in NY - all 20oz fountain soda should be outlawed... and smoking should be outlawed, and drinking, and riding an electric train (EMR) - the government should tell you what's good for you.

"Fewer guns....is a safer and more sensible policy for America" - so it is a gun grab, and nothing else?

She doesn't speak for my mom.

Stealing - already against a law
nut jobs using a gun - already against a law
killing kids in an elementary school - already against a law

Annual tax on a 'right'? No, that's wrong - we don't have to pay an annual tax to type on this webpage, or to speak on the steps of the statehouse, or to scream on my front lawn.

And no, you got the last part of the sentence wrong - leading to communism, although.... 10 guys using the same gun would give someone ample reasonable doubt if they ever wanted to do something that is already against a law.

Can't argue with that Bubbly. Well, they can and they will. But their arguments are completely irrelevant to the real issue. It's like the fork that made that person fat..

In 2011 there were 9,878 fatalities caused by drunk drivers. In 2011 there were 8583 deaths by firearms. Have we talked about banning alcohol to prevent these deaths? Have we talked about banning cars to prevent people from driving drunk in them? No. We never ever would think to do a thing like that. Two days after Newtown an off duty officer shot and wounded a man carrying a handgun in a movie theater in Texas. The man was there to kill his exgirlfriend. The officer chased and shot the man preventing any bloodshed. A GUN was used to STOP a possible massacre. Very little was discussed about this incident. Guns do kill people. So do knives, fists, fire, cars, and so many other things. If you were walking through a mall with your two children and a man suddenly appeared with a knife and came at you about to kill you and you're children. If a person appeared and shot the man before he could harm you would you're view on gun control change? I think it would. You can ban guns, control guns just like they did with alcohol during prohibition. People still drank and people are still going to get guns into their hands whenever they want. Maybe we should start sterilizing all children going forward so they can't procreate and the real problem behind killings will be eliminated....people.

We have certainly strengthened laws to help prevent drunk driving over the years which has helped save lives. Hasn't prevented drunk driving completely, but certainly tougher laws, more awareness and precautions has saved lives.

Don't get your Police story-What does that have to do with limiting assualt weapons?

It start's with one thing taken away. Then little by little, more is taken away, then a little more is taken away, suddenly you have nothing left.

Gov. Ronald Reagan, now lauded as the patron saint of modern conservatism, said he saw "no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons." Reagan claimed that it "would work no hardship on the honest citizen."

Are you saying that Reagan was taking away people's freedom?

Most mass shootings are done by those who are crazy and/or angry at the world for some reason. I suspect that the rash of mass shootings in recent years is largely a copy-cat phenomenon, just as when one teen in an area commits suicide, there is a rash of teen suicides over that area by teens. It is very difficult to know how to prevent a determined insane person from laying his hands on a gun, especially since most of those who are mentally unbalanced will not be seeking to harm others.

Most deaths by gun come from those who have firearms illegally with the intent to use them for illegal purposes. Turf wars between gangs, retribution and control by mobsters, and personal vengeance kill more people each year than mass shootings, and probably more than mass shootings and personal murders combined. How do we get guns out of the hands of criminals? Answer that, and you will reduce gun violence by over 50%

In addition, the Founding Fathers knew that weapons in the hands of private citizens would discourage government from curtailing liberty. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (by which they meant knowing the good and living by it, an idea that came to them from Greek philosophy) is protected from the tendency of government to curtail liberty by taking on ever greater powers.

Most gun deaths are by suicide.

See the Boston globe 2 weeks ago.

1% of the gun dealers sell 90% of the guns used in crime. Why not shut down these gun dealers.

But the ATF is not allowed to track that.

See John Stewart video clip for that.

Appologies for not saying this early-Good luck to Ms Levine-Kanji. Despite one's position, you are promoting important conversation!

Bubbly-Easy to define high capacity if you are willing to discuss. Clearly you have learned your diversion tactics from Wayne LaPierre.

Second posting from the speak up - still no definition
Not sure what diversion you are speaking of - creating more laws on top of the ones we currently have that are not being enforced? Like I said - it's already illegal to speed on the turnpike, but people do it every day - Ever get a ticket for going 67mph? probably not. Ever follow any case thru conviction? Usually the gun charges are dropped due to faulty evidence, and unclear ownership. Start enforcing the laws we have, before making new ones.

Not inclined to define because people like you nitpick the terminology. But I will start-how about banning clips that hold more than 10 rounds? If you need more than 10 rounds to protect your family you shouldn't have a gun to begin with. As for me, I'll get someone out of my house with my pellet gun.

To your car analogy-we don't let Indy cars on the pike. Limits help control not prevent completely.

Many excellent points. We don't let dirt bikes on the road- we have minimum and maximum speed limits. we have laws regarding car seats and seat belts. All of these have reduced the number of traffic fatalities. I have to question why anyone would be opposed to TRYING to reduce gun violence. You do not need a high capacity magazine to shoot Bambi- these magazines exists to hunt people and have no other purpose.

For those people that think limiting the number of rounds in a clip will save the world, An experianced gun owner can change clips in under 2 seconds. Someone off the street can be easily taught to do it in under 3 seconds. People should investigate the subject before making suggestions.

Who said it would save the world? Do some investigation yourself before mocking a point--you will see it was one example being discussed with Bubbly. By the way-3 seconds could save a lot of lives.

For those people that think limiting the number of rounds in a clip will save the world, An experianced gun owner can change clips in under 2 seconds. Someone off the street can be easily taught to do it in under 3 seconds. People should investigate the subject before making suggestions.

What if you have a family of 12, or a pack of 24 coyotes, fox's, wolves ( insert animal that hunt in a pack), attacks your cattle and live stock?. Just pointing out, that there COULD be a reason to need it besides being insane.

JB-Is this a serious point?

Yes. Pointing out, there is a reason for everything weather you or I, agree with it or not. So why not put a humorous spin, on a very polar subject.

So let's tell the parents of New Town that we're not willing to consider limiting assualt weapons in order to ensure one can protect themselves from a pack of 24 Coyote.

Easy-peasy. When attacked by coyotes, I always use that box of dynamite I keep in the closet. meep-meep!

'Easy to define', 'not inclined to define' - really?

MA already bans 'clips' (magazine is the correct term - see, nitpicking again) that old more than 10 rounds - not just the purchase, but possesion of the mag is a felony(!) I don't need more than 10 rounds, but I'll entertain you with the following:
I have a 30 round mag, fire them all into a known dirtbag with a list of prior convictions for b&e, home invasion blah, blah, blah in my house at 2am - you really think the cops are going to ask any questions about how many holes are in him? I had 3-10round mags, wink, wink.
- please tell me how you are defending yourself with a pellet pistol? All I can think of is Chevy Chase in Vacation, ' I could break the skin with that, and it could give you an infection'. You'll put your (or their) eye out!
-finally, "Limits help control not prevent completely" - we have plenty of limits in place already that are not used nearly enough.

I would rather have someone reload 3 10s than have one 30.

You really need to put that many holes in a dirtbag? Scary. I'll do fine with my pellet thanks.

Again--MA is one thing-I travel a lot.

Then let's pursdue these limits more aggressively. but the NRA will fight that as well. Think LaPierre will go for more inforcement or tougher sentencing.

You would rather reload than have 30 on tap to protect yourself? That doesn't make sense. I'm fully with you on the other guy having to reload, and not me... but that isn't usually the way it works - criminals don't follow the 'no more than 10 round' law - that's what makes them criminals.

It's a felony in MA to have a 30 round mag, or an 11 round mag - you can travel all you want, it's still illegal in MA to posess a 30 round mag - trash cans at the borders should be full from out of staters following this law already, right?

“I'll tell you what would work right now,” says NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre. “Tomorrow morning—and the NRA would be there every step of the way—if President Obama would walk in and tell the attorney general of the United States to tell every U.S. attorney, ‘If you catch a drug dealer on the street with a gun, I want you to prosecute him.’ ”

google search - 'nra enforcement' - slate magazine, last week.

Do you really think you will need 30 rounds to protect yourself someday? Based on the dialogue, you clearly have experience with guns and there is no way you'll need 30 rounds. You may want 30 rounds for some kicks on a range, but you don't need them to protect yourself. Sorry-I just don't share your paranoia. You may be right and say I told you so at my wake some day, but I just don't have it. Not saying I'm right-I just don't get it.

Maybe LaPeirre said that-but he starts with blaming everything else and foaming of the mouth I get a little distracted. Have been to the NRA website-all about absolute protection of 2nd amnendmet-call to arms bravado with very little about gun saftey. Saftey mentioned 38 seconds into a 53 second marketing trailer.

I've actually enjoyed the discussion up to this point, with you and everyone else that has the RIGHT to speak freely - there's a reason for that - it was given to us by the same document that gives us the right to bear arms. I feel no matter what your opinion, it still furthers the cause of discussion and engagement. With that said, "you don't need them to protect yourself" is not a statement I'm letting lie. You don't get to decide that for me. I'll decide how and with what I protect myself with.
I've actually not visited the NRA site, so good for you - I don't care for their propaganda much either. I don't watch Lapierre speaches, and I don't care if he foams at the mouth. As far as the " he starts with blaming everything else and foaming of the mouth" comment, we could just change the name to Cuomo and have the same result - if the AWB as it sits goes into effect again, the USA will be held to 10 round magazines......except for NY, which wants 7 round mags - see where this is going? When do we hit single shots and black powder?

Long way away from single shots and black powder. Not far away from grenade launchers either. Your definition of need or right absolutely impacts the saftey and well being of my family, so I have justifiable position as well. We live in a society with vested interests in each other.

"Your definition of need or right absolutely impacts the saftey and well being of my family" - We're well off track, but I seriously have enjoyed this anonymous discussion - it's helped me work thru some things, as I hope it's helped you also - As long as I'm not breaking into your house at 2am, why do you care if I own a 10000 round magazine? If I'm a law abiding citizen, what does it matter if my rifle has a pistol grip on it? My right to own a gun has nothing to do with your safety or the well being of your family - (I don't even know you) again, if I'm a law abiding citizen.

If I'm not a law abiding citizen, then how many new laws am I really going to pay attention to?

Simply put-because now X times 10000 round magazines are available to everyone. Presumably, I'm not worried about you. Enjoyed the discussion as well!