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Arlington church fights gun violence with t-shirt memorial

A t-shirt memorial outside First Presbyterian Church of Arlington in Virginia. (NewsChannel 8 photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. (Newschannel 8) – It's a debate that has found itself in front of an Arlington church. Members of First Presbyterian Church of Arlington put up a so-called t-shirt memorial last Saturday to represent the nearly 200 people in the greater Washington, D.C. area who died last year from gun violence.

Diana Warmann is chair of the church's Mission Team, responsible for the display.

"There are a lot of victims of handgun violence and we want people to know about that," she said.

They placed a total of 176 t-shirts on the front lawn of the church, representing the 176 people in Northern Virginia, D.C. and Maryland who died in 2013 from handguns. All of the shirts are color coordinated based on where the person died. The victims’ ages range from three months old to 83 years old.

The church partnered with a non-profit called Heeding God's Call, based in Philadelphia. Its founders insist it isn't fighting against the right to own guns, but to curb illegal gun trafficking through demonstrations, public education and legislative action.

"Each shirt represents a human being who is someone's son, someone's daughter, someone's granddaughter," explained Bob Harris, a member of Heeding God's Call’s D.C. chapter.

Some of the names on display may sound familiar. Arthur Daniels died in the Navy Yard shooting and Ron Kirby was one of three people allegedly murdered in Alexandria at the hands of Charles Severance.

And then there are others whose bodies are still unidentified.

"I find it moving. It's a little akin to being at Arlington Cemetery," Harris added.

After seeing the display, Seem Tariq stopped to get more information. She says she couldn't keep walking by.

"It's like those people are standing here, you know?" she said.

The t-shirt Memorial will be on display through Sept. 27.

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