30 Lawmakers Gave SOTU Tickets to Victims of Gun Tragedies
(CNSNews.com) – Thirty members of Congress who gave away their one ticket to the president's State of the Union Address to a person affected by gun violence also gave those people a chance to speak Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Rep. Rosa Delauro (D-Conn.) introduced some of the people affected by gun violence and spent most of the conference commenting on the victims and little on gun control policy.
"Thank you for being here. Thank you for the courage. We know that you continue to grieve," said DeLauro. "It doesn't make any difference how long that time period is, you continued to grieve. And to take that adversity and take it and in order to promote the common good.”
DeLauro briefly recalled the Dec. 14, 2012 Newtown tragedy – when 20-year-old Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed 26 people, including 20 children -- calling the event "a slaughter of the innocents."
"It was a normal Friday morning right in the midst of the holiday season. Sandy Hook Elementary suddenly and without warning became a war zone," she said, noting that Lanza killed his victims "in cold blood."
Ellison gave his State of the Union ticket to Sami Rahamim of Minneapolis, Minn. Rahamim's father, Reuven Rahamim, was killed last September when a mentally-ill gunman opened fire at his workplace, where the gunman also was employed.
"He had 6,000 rounds of ammunition," Ellison said of the shooter.
DeLauro invited Carlos Soto, Jr., the younger sibling of the 27-year-old Sandy Hook first grade teacher, Vicki Soto, who was killed in the massacre but who heroically succeeded in protecting her students.
"He's here to remind us that victims of gun violence all have names, they have faces, they have families who love them," DeLauro said. "And we should remember and honor them by putting an end to this."
Back on Jan. 31, DeLauro facilitated an AR-15 being voluntarily handed over to the police, according to her congressional website. The gun owner, Joe Bango, was a Connecticut resident “who was so moved by the Newtown tragedy that he wanted to give his weapon to the State Police and urge others to do the same,” reads the website.
DeLauro believes that the gun owner’s gesture "showed the potential effectiveness" of her Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Education for our Streets Act (SAFER Act), which would give a $2,000 refundable tax credit--or $1,000 for two straight years--to a gun owner who handed over his assault weapons to a state or local police.
Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to end gun violence, also spoke at the conference. The conference was held in part by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group that says they have over 850 mayors from across the United States who support their "Demand A Plan" initiative.
The initiative seeks to have as an end goal legislation that will require background checks on all guns sold in the United States, ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons, and make gun trafficking a federal crime "with penalties for "straw purchasers."
Mayors Against Illegal Guns supports President Obama's recent proposals on gun violence.
"The legislative and executive actions the President endorsed today reflect our coalition’s top priorities, and we look forward to working with Congress to pass common sense legislation that will make our communities safer – for our families, our children, and our police officers," said the group’s co-chair New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg in a Jan. 16 statement.