RICHMOND, Va. — About 70 people gathered in Richmond on Tuesday for a ceremony marking the sixth anniversary of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech.

Among the speakers was Joe Samaha, whose daughter Reema was one of the 32 people killed. Samaha is president of the Virginia Tech Family Outreach Foundation, which was formed after the 2007 shooting rampage to promote campus safety.

“Our charge has been that no other family would have to walk in our shoes,” Samaha said. “We hold the answer to safer schools and colleges and campuses within us, as a community.”

Samaha said beefed-up security can always be defeated, so the long-term solutions are improved mental health care and helping troubled youths.

Meanwhile, some other parents of Virginia Tech shooting victims joined state Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Norfolk, in calling for tougher gun control laws in Virginia, including universal background checks and bans on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. The 2013 General Assembly rejected those ideas last winter, just weeks after the shooting deaths of 26 people at a Connecticut elementary school.

“Six years is too long to wait while more families are enduring the same tragedies we experience at Virginia Tech — yet our nation has been paralyzed on the issue of gun violence,” Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin was wounded at Tech, said in a news release.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling also addressed the crowd at the state Capitol, and a bell tolled once for each of the Virginia Tech victims.

After the ceremony, state Secretary of Public Safety Marla Decker declined to say whether Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings prompted any security changes at Virginia Tech for its community picnic and other shooting anniversary activities.

“The important message for Virginians is we constantly monitor what’s going on everywhere and whether it can have an impact on what’s going on in Virginia,” she said.

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(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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