The Democratic National Convention gave space to the topic of gun violence Wednesday night in an emotional segment featuring survivors and family members affected by mass shootings across the US.
One of them was a mother who lost her son in the Orlando LGBT nightclub massacre that left 49 people dead.
Two survivors of the Charleston church shooting spoke, as did a woman who stood for her mother, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.
Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in 2011, also spoke — lambasting gun lobbyists and declaring her support for Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Here’s a closer look at what they said:
“It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times … The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute … One minute for a gun to fire so many shots, five minutes per bell to honour so many lives,” Christine Leinonen said. She is the mother of Christopher Leinonen, one of the 49 people killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in May. It has been called the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
Leinonen recalled when her son was born, at a time when she was a Michigan state trooper, and how she had to put her gun away as she prepared to give birth.
“I didn’t argue. I know common sense gun policies save lives,” Leinonen said. “I’m glad common sense gun policy was in place when Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died?”
Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard
Felicia Sanders and Polly Sheppard are two of the three people who survived the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“Hate destroys those who harbour it, and I refused to let hate destroy me,” Sanders said.
Sanders and Sheppard were both inside the historic church in June 2015 when a gunman walked in during Bible study and opened fire. Nine people were killed.
“So much hate. Too much. But, as Scripture says, ‘Love never fails,'” said Sheppard. “So, I choose love. And, in this election, I choose Hillary Clinton.”
Erica Smegielski’s mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was one of the six adults killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
“I’m here without my mother while too many politicians cower behind the gun lobby,” Smegielski said. Her mother, the school’s principal was killed while trying to protect students during the shooting rampage. Since then, Smegielski has become an outspoken advocate for gun control.
“I should not be here tonight. I don’t want to be here tonight,” Smegielski lamented. “I should be home like so many Americans watching on TV with my mother as we nominate the first woman to be the president of the United States.”
Former Arizona state Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt in 2011, said Hillary Clinton will “stand up to the gun lobby.”
“In Congress, I learned a powerful lesson: strong women get things done,” Giffords recalled. “Speaking is difficult for me, but come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.”
Here’s the Democratic Party’s platform on gun-control:
“To build on the success of the lifesaving Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, we will expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws; repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and keep weapons of war — such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s) — off our streets.”
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