By Alex Schuman
A vigil was held at the Statehouse Saturday night to remember those killed in the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
"Iowans care - we care deeply," said Heather Ryan.
Ryan has never organized a gathering like this before, but the tragedy in Connecticut affected her so much she had to do something.
"Connecticut's 1,200 miles from Des Moines, but it feels like it's right across the street," she said. "And it feels like these people were family, and I don't know them, but it feels like we've been assaulted as a nation."
"Now's the time to act and it's time to ask the questions that have needed to be asked for a long time," Ryan said.
For her, and most of the people there, those questions all boil down to one, "Why?" Why do shootings like this happen and why does there seem to be more of them?
"In this country we've become apathetic to these kind of violent outbursts and I don't know why," Ryan said.
Everyone who came to the steps of the Statehouse wants to start a conversation by asking the basic questions at the heart of this issue. Is it violence in movies and video games? Gun control? How news outlets cover shootings? They want to understand because they all believe something like this will happen again - and don't want it to happen here.
"It's terrifying," said Ryan. "I can't imagine losing my children."
People shared their opinions, prayed and sang - hoping being together and talking about the event will inspire others to do the same.
"We don't talk about our feelings, you know, and we have to be able to do that," said Rep. Ako Abdul-Samad, D-Des Moines. "That's how we release, and how we get things done."
Rep. Abdul-Samad wants to expand this conversation beyond the small group at the vigil by holding meetings.
Their first meeting will be January 7th at 5 p.m. inside Mars Café in Des Moines. Anyone who can come is welcome.