Peter Read, the father of one of the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, was standing next to two women who shouted their collective frustration at the U.S. Senate after lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would have expanded background checks on gun purchases.
“Shame on you!” they yelled.
One of the women was Lori Haas, whose daughter survived the Virginia Tech massacre. Her daughter and Read’s daughter, Mary, were both in the same French class when shots were fired.
The other woman was Pat Maisch, a hero of the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 13 wounded, including former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Maisch wrestled a magazine away from shooter Jared Loughner as he tried to reload.
“It’s not hard to understand why they did it,” Read said in a phone conversation after the background check legislation failed. “This is a failure for the American people. This is a failure for us.”
Read was among a coalition of families of recent mass-shooting victims who were in Washington for the vote Wednesday. Many of the family members sat in the gallery as Senators voted down new gun control measures.
Read told Business Insider it was hard to watch another day of what he called “doing nothing.”
“They don’t understand,” he said of the Senate. “They don’t understand that we wake up with the choice to do nothing, or the choice to act.”
“We choose to act. They choose to do nothing.”
His sentiments were echoed by families of victims of other recent mass shootings, including the 2012 massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., and at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colo.
On a conference call after the vote Wednesday, Erica Lafferty, daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, said she was “disgusted” by the outcome. Neil Heslin, father of slain child Jesse Lewis, called the Senators who voted no “cowardly.”
“We’re here, grieving in public, trying to show that change needs to happen,” said Carlee Soto, the sister of slain teacher Jillian Soto. “We don’t get to mourn in private.”
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