CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio-- A Sunday community summit at the St. Paul's Episcopal Church was called, "God Before Guns,"but the faith leaders and activistspresent are looking for answers from anywhere to protect children in our community.
"I think that Newtown brought everybody here today," said Lori O'Neill with Alternative Defense Strategies, a panelist at the event.
Newtown, Chardon and now Sparks, Nevada are allplaces where safety was shattered by guns.
"Itis a reality that none of us have ever really thought we'd have to encounter," saidBecky Higgins, the president of the Ohio Education Association.
They faced reality head-on in Cleveland Heights with an afternoon of discussions and ideas to bring an end to gun violence.
"We're losing the fight on the ground amongst these young urban youth who think differently than we do," said Khalid Samad with Peace in the Hood.
Numbers released Sunday show about 500 American children die in hospitals every year from guns, a rate that climbed by nearly 60 percent in a decade. More than 7,500 are hospitalized, showfindings just presented by doctors at a conference of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
"I see the toll, not just as numbers, but as people and it's enormous. What it's doing to our communities," said Dr. Christina Antenucci withDoctors for Healthcare Solutions.
To keep the toll from growing, these leaders say it will take activism and a cultural approach that empowers individuals and businesses to choose against guns and the violence that comes with them.
Toby Hoover with the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence says she advises businesseschoosing to check guns at the door. "They say, 'Where do you want me to hang the sign?' I say, 'Right next to the no smoking sign. It's the same kind of health problem.' The same kind of health problem. And when we say no to it, we start changing our culture."
Ohio Representative Bill Patmon presents legislation he calls a solution in Columbus this week.
The first hearing for House Bill 31 will be Tuesday afternoon.
The proposed legislation could makeit a crime to keepa gun unlocked at home if a child could gain access to it.