NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — U.S. senators and other lawmakers from Connecticut joined survivors, advocates, and families of gun violence victims on Thursday morning at a news conference, marking 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy and U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, and Jim Himes joined the Newtown Action Alliance, survivors, advocates, and families of gun violence victims at a news conference Thursday at the U.S. Capitol.
One by one, family members told their stories of losing loved ones and pushed the senate to pass gun bills that had already cleared the house. They also called for a vote on a nationwide assault weapon ban. Families want it done by the end of the year.
Eric Ross, a survivor of the Rt. 91 Harvest Music Festival shooting in Las Vegas, spoke for all the people at the tragedy, noting that “we can’t fit that many people in this room.”
“I’m here on behalf of the 58 people who were murdered, over 800 physically injured, and literally over 20,000 people who suffer from trauma, mental health issues, suicides, PTSD, panic disorder,” Ross said.
Families spoke about passing the national assault weapon ban, just one of several gun measures victims’ families are pushing for.
“Introducing legislation is simply not enough,” Ashley Beasley said. “We need the Senate gun safety champions to be persistent in their efforts to pass life-saving gun laws and demonstrate to the American people that they are doing all they can to end the gun violence crisis in our nation.”
Connecticut lawmakers have been leading the national fight to toughen federal gun laws, as they have already been tightened in the state.
“Guns have no respect for state borders,” Blumenthal said. “They come across state lines, and that’s why Congress needs to do its job.”
Murphy said after a long fight, the tide is turning on guns in Washington, proven by the passage of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act passed this summer. He said the gun lobby’s hammerlock on Congress is finally being broken.
“This is our moment to compel Congress to action,” Murphy said.
Biden does support a national assault weapon ban, but it is unlikely the votes are there in Congress to pass one. Assault weapons were banned nationwide during the Clinton administration but expired after a decade.
The National Vigil for All Victims of Gun Violence was held Wednesday night at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington. Though the Newtown Action Alliance Foundation led the observance, the annual vigil honors all victims of gun violence nationwide.
Since 20 first-graders and six educators were killed in the school shooting in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012, more than one million Americans have been victims or survivors of gun violence.