Americans Affected by Gun Violence Send Message ahead of State of the Union

Feb 12, 2013 Issues: Gun Safety

Members of Congress advocating for new gun safety laws, with support from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, are providing people affected by gun violence the opportunity to tell their stories and send a message about guns to Washington as guests at tonight’s State of the Union address.

Representatives Jim Langevin (RI-2), Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) and David Cicilline (RI-1) spearheaded an effort in which 31 members gave their one ticket to the President’s speech to someone affected by a gun tragedy. A group of the Representatives, including those listed above, and their guests joined Mark Glaze, Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Dan Gross, the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose brother was shot at the Empire State Building, to speak out just hours before President Obama delivers the State of the Union.

The event took place in the Gabriel Zimmerman Meeting Room in the Capitol Visitors Center, named for the congressional staffer killed in the Tucson shooting in 2011. Gabe’s mother, Emily Nottingham, participated as the guest of Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09).

In addition, more than 100 other survivors and family members affected by gun violence were in attendance as part of Mayors Against Illegal Guns’ Demand A Plan campaign for common-sense gun law reforms that will help end the gun violence that kills 33 Americans every day. These proposals are backed by the Members of Congress who led the State of the Union effort. Survivors and family members present at the press conference came from at least 20 states and Washington, DC.

“We know all too well that difficult political obstacles threaten the chances of enacting responsible legislation to better protect our communities and especially our children,” said Langevin, McCarthy, Ellison, DeLauro and Cicilline. “However, the vast majority of Americans want us to strengthen gun safety laws. For our effort to be successful, our elected officials must hear an outcry, and they must hear the stories of those who have been impacted by gun violence. It is our hope that the presence of these guests in the House Gallery will send a strong message that the status quo in our gun laws is unacceptable.”

“This is a historic gathering for a historic time,” said Glaze. “More than 850 Mayors Against Illegal Guns, more than 120 gun violence survivors and families of those we lost, and many millions of American supporters are demanding a plan from Congress. More than a plan - we’re demanding action. It’s time.”

31 Members of Congress bringing guests affected by gun violence

Jim Langevin (RI-2)
Keith Ellison (MN-5)
Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)
Rosa DeLauro (CT-3)
David Cicilline (RI-1)

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader

Ron Barber (AZ-2)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Diana DeGette (CO-1)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-5)
Lois Frankel (FL-22)
Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)
Janice Hahn (CA-44)
Jim Himes (CT-4)
John Larson (CT-1)
Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)
Ed Markey (MA-7)
Jim Moran (VA-8)
Gloria Negrete-McLeod (CA-35)
Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-7)
Jan Schakowsky (IL-9)
Brad Schneider (IL-10)
Bobby Scott (VA-3)
Mike Thompson (CA-5)
John Tierney (MA-06)
Krysten Sinema (AZ-9)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)
Juan Vargas (CA-51)
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23)

State of the Union guests who spoke at press conference:

Cleora Francis-O’Connor – Providence, RI
Introduced by: David Cicilline (RI-1)

Cleora works as a computer network management specialist with the Providence Public School District. Her son, Malik, was 17 when he was killed in a shooting in South Providence in 1997. Since then, she’s worked with groups like the Million Mom March to prevent gun violence.

Emily Nottingham – Tucson, AZ (Mother of Gabe Zimmerman, for whom the room where the press conference will take place is named)
Introduced by: Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

Emily’s son Gabe, who worked as the Director of Community Outreach for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and organized the Congress on Your Corner event on Jan. 8, 2011, was shot and killed that morning. Emily has a PhD in Mass Communications and, since retiring as the Community Services Department Director of the City of Tucson, has taught Urban Planning classes at the University of Arizona and continues to do community development work.

Cleopatra Pendleton – Chicago, IL
Introduced by: Brad Schneider (IL-10)

Cleopatra is the mother of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago girl who was gunned down on Chicago’s South Side just days after performing with her high school band during President Obama’s Inauguration festivities.

Rev. E. Winford Bell – Los Angeles, CA
Introduced by: Janice Hahn (CA-44)

Rev. E. Winford Bell serves as the Senior Pastor-Teacher of Mt Olive 2nd Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. His son was shot and injured during a drive-by shooting in 2009. He founded and heads the Silver Lining of Hope, a faith-based anti-violence community organization in Inglewood.

Elvin Daniel – McHenry, IL
Introduced by: Mark Glaze (Mayors Against Illegal Guns); Guest of Mike Thompson (CA-5)

Elvin’s sister, Zina Daniel, was murdered by her husband inside the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Shortly before she was killed, Zina had sought a restraining order against her husband. Since Zina’s murder, Elvin has dedicated himself to helping other victims of domestic violence.

Peggy McCrum – Long Beach, CA
Introduced by: Alan Lowenthal (CA-47)

Peggy is the Chapter Leader of the Long Beach Area Brady Campaign. Her brother, a Long Beach resident and graduate of Long Beach State University, was shot and killed while leaving a store in Los Angeles at the age of 29. The killer was never found.

Sami Rahamim - Minneapolis, MN
Introduced by: Keith Ellison (MN-5)

Sami is the son of Reuven Rahamim, the founder and owner of Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis. Reuven was one of six victims of a workplace shooting at Accent Signage on September 27, 2012. Since the shooting, Sami has met with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as well as survivors of the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, the Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee, Tucson, Arizona, and Virginia Tech.

Jim Tyrell - Warwick, RI
Introduced by: Jim Langevin (RI-2)

Jim’s sister, Debbie, was murdered in 2004 during a robbery at a convenience store she owned in Providence, Rhode Island. The gunman has never been found. To honor his sister, Jim has run a golf tournament for the past nine years to raise money for the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence.

Information for other guests sitting in House Gallery tonight:

Lynette Alameddine – Saugus, MA
Invited by: John Tierney (MA-06)

Lynette is the mother of Ross Abdallah Alameddine, 20, of Saugus, Mass. He was a sophomore English major who was gunned down in French class during the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007. Alameddine was a graduate of Austin Preparatory School in Reading, MA.

Chief John Aresta – Malverne, NY
Invited by: Carolyn McCarthy (NY-4)

John Aresta is the Chief of Police of Malverne, NY, and has lost two people close to him in acts of gun violence. In 1989, while a member of the NYPD, his partner was shot to death while responding to a domestic dispute call. In 1993, his uncle James Gorycki was killed in the same mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad commuter train in which Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s husband Dennis was killed and son Kevin injured.

Mother and Daughter – Newtown, CT (Names not being released)
Invited by: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

Leader Pelosi received a letter from a 4th grader in Newtown, CT, who asked for her support to strengthen gun laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. She invited the girl and her mother to be her guests at the State of the Union.

Mayor Gloria Chavez – Tijeras, NM
Invited by: Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-1)

Mayor Chavez is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and has several family members who were victims of gun violence. She has been featured by the local media and has testified in Santa Fe in support of gun control legislation.

Anne Marie Crowell – Saugus, MA
Invited by: Rep. Ed Markey (07)

Anne Marie lost her son, Brian, to an accidental shooting at a friend’s house on Christmas Eve in 1997.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords – Tucson, AZ
Invited by: Ron Barber (AZ-02)

Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was injured in a 2011 shooting at a congressional event in Tucson that left six people dead, including one of her staff members. Since leaving Congress, Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, have founded Americans for Responsible Solutions, a political action committee and advocacy group dedicated to finding commonsense solutions to protect communities from gun violence.

Lori Haas – Richmond, VA
Invited by: Bobby Scott (VA-3)

Lori is the Virginia Organizer of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. After her daughter Emily was shot twice and survived the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, Lori became personally involved in gun violence prevention efforts. She has worked with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Virginia Center for Public Safety, Protest Easy Guns and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Natalie Hammond – Newtown, CT
Invited by: Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)

Natalie Hammond was the lead teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary and was shot in the foot, leg and hand during the massacre. Prior to being promoted to lead teacher, Natalie was a 3rd grade teacher at Sandy Hook for about ten years.

Megan Hobson – Hialeah, FL
Invited by: Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (FL-23)

Megan is a 17-year-old first-generation American high school student. Megan was the victim of a drive-by shooting and was injured when a bullet entered her body through the back. After weeks in intensive care and additional time in rehab, Megan is now working to graduate on time with her class while volunteering to help other trauma patients.

Ross Hollander – Manchester, CT
Invited by: John Larson (CT-01)

Ross Hollander is the president of Hartford Distributors in Manchester, the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in Connecticut history. In 2010, eight employees of Hartford Distributors were shot and killed and two were injured.

Teresa Hoover – Aurora, CO and David Hoover – Lakewood, CO
Invited by: Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Diana DeGette (CO-1)

Teresa Hoover is the mother of AJ Boik, an 18-year-old killed in the Aurora movie theater shooting. She was a single mother of two boys. She will be accompanied by her brother (AJ’s uncle) David Hoover, a police officer with the Lakewood Police Department in Colorado.

Nardyne Jefferies – Washington, DC
Invited by: Eleanor Norton Holmes (DC)

Nardyne is a District of Columbia resident whose 16-year-old daughter, Brishell Jones, was killed in a drive-by shooting on South Capitol Street on March 30, 2010. In one of the worst outbreaks of gun violence in the District in many years, Brishell and four other young people under the age of 21 were killed, and many others were injured, in a series of shootings over the course of several days that have become known as the South Capitol Street Massacre.

Rosetta and Willie Jones – San Diego, CA
Invited by: Susan Davis (CA-53) and Juan Vargas (CA-51)

Rosetta and Willie are the parents of Willie James Jones. In 1994, 18-year-old Willie James, his high school’s valedictorian, was leaving an adult-supervised, alcohol-free graduation party when a car drove by and the occupants opened fire. Willie died instantly. He was just days from flying to New York to attend Cornell University on a full academic scholarship. More than 1,500 attended Willie’s funeral. Two months after his death, the City Council renamed the street where he was killed after Willie.

Lynn McDonnell and Christopher McDonnell – Newtown, CT
Invited by: Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Gloria Negrete-McLeod (CA-35)

Lynn and Christopher are the parents of Grace McDonnell, a 7-year-old student who was tragically killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting. The President talked about Grace, and a painting she made that her father gave to him, during his press conference on guns on January 16th.

Curtrina Murphy – Bridgeport, CT
Invited by: Jim Himes (CT-4)

Ms. Murphy’s daughter was hit in the crossfire of a gun fight in Bridgeport last summer as they walked hand-in-hand down the street in the middle of the afternoon. Ms. Murphy’s daughter was three years old at the time of the incident and has fully recovered from her gunshot wounds.

Carolyn Murray – Evanston, IL Invited by: Jan Shakowsky (IL-9)
Carolyn’s son Justin Murray, 19, was fatally shot in November on a street just a few blocks from his mother’s home. Carolyn began organizing a gun buyback program in the summer of 2012 and even organized an event held on December 15, less than three weeks after Justin’s death, where nearly 50 guns were collected.

Carole Price- Carroll County, MD
Invited by: Chris Van Hollen (MD-8)

In 1998, Carole’s 13-year-old son, John, was accidentally killed by a young neighbor with a pistol he had found in his home. Carole’s testimony before the Maryland legislature helped push through a new law that requires trigger locks and a gun-safety course for all new handgun owners. President Clinton traveled to Annapolis and applauded Carole’s efforts when the bill was signed into law in 2000.

Denise Reed- Chicago, IL
Invited by: Tammy Duckworth (IL-8)

Denise Reed is the mother of Starkesia Reed and an advocate against gun violence. Starkesia was a fourteen year old honor roll student who was killed by a stray bullet from an AK-47 near her home in Chicago. Denise is a founding member of Purpose Over Pain, an organization committed to the relentless pursuit of solutions to gun violence.

Omar Joseph Samaha – Fairfax, VA
Invited by: Jim Moran (VA-8)

Omar’s sister, Reema, was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. After her death, Omar, also a Virginia Tech student, co-founded Students for Gun-Free Schools, which opposes efforts to force colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to carry concealed handguns on their campuses. Omar also helped expose the “Gun Show Loophole” on ABC’s 20/20 by filming undercover at a Virginia gun show in April 2009.

Carlos Soto, Jr. – Stratford, CT
Invited by: Rosa DeLauro (CT-3)

Carlos is the younger brother of Vicki Soto, the 27-year-old Sandy Hook teacher who hid many of her first-grade students and was killed while trying to protect them.