Washington — Dozens of gun-violence victims and the families of those slain by guns are in the Capitol Tuesday to hear President Obama’s State of the Union speech and to lobby lawmakers.
At an afternoon press conference those victims, who included Lynn and Chris McDonnell, parents of slain Sandy Hook Elementary student Grace McDonnell, beseeched members of Congress to move quickly on new restrictions on firearms.
“You guys signed up for the job. Do something,” said Cleopatra Pendleton.
Pendleton’s 15-year old daughter was gunned down in Chicago just days after performing with her high school band in Obama’s inaugural parade.
An emotional Lynn McDonnell described her slain daughter as “someone who just wanted to paint on the beach.”
Jim Tyrell of Warwick, R.I., spoke of the shooting death of his sister Debbie. He warned members of Congress “it could happen to you and it might happen to you if you don’t stop gun violence.”
Most lawmakers at the press conference have invited a victim of gun violence as their guest to the State of the Union Address.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd, invited 15-year old Carlos Soto, brother of slain Sandy Hook teacher Vicki Soto.
“Vicki hid some of her class in a closet and was murdered trying to protect the others,” DeLauro said. “We owe it to the Soto family…to take assault weapons off the street.”
Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, both Democrats, attended the press conference but did not speak.
Afterwards, Blumenthal reacted to the suggestion of Bob Welsh, the National Rifle Association’s director in Wisconsin, that anger over the Newtown massacre would dissipate.
“We have a strong agenda coming up for next year,” Welsh said at a yearly NRA meeting. “But of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the ‘Connecticut effect’ has to go through the process,” he said.
Blumenthal said the Newtown residents, and other gun-violence victims at the State of the Union speech, will prove Welsh wrong.
“These families show that the Connecticut effect will be lasting, enduring and powerful,” Blumenthal said.