In this Dec. 14, 2013, file photo, a makeshift memorial with crosses for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre stands outside a home on the first anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty | AP

Dozens of people gathered in Portland’s First Parish Church on Monday night to protest gun violence. As young members of the multicultural chorus Pihcintu — Peace in Two — sang, slides of gun violence victims were shown.

Organizers said the vigil was one of 150 that took place in 30 states across the country to observe the seventh anniversary of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty children and six educators were killed in the Dec. 14, 2012, mass shooting.

Camilla Shannon, the chair-elect of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, said these are dark times, but she’s optimistic. “It’s sad to gather for such an occasion to recognize so many lives lost, but I think therein lies the hope. More and more people are attending such events, more and more people support common-sense gun regulations.”

Those regulations include red flag laws, universal background checks and banning high-capacity magazines, Shannon said.

Geoff Bickford, executive director of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition, described as “astonishing” the number of victims lost to gun violence since Sandy Hook.

“And so we take time to reflect on their loss and talk about what we can do to prevent future deaths,” Bickford said, “with the hope that someday we don’t have to vigils like this anymore.”

Bickford said political candidates used to run away from the gun control issue, but now they’re running on gun control platforms and winning.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.