Orlando Mom, Sandy Hook Daughter, Sandy Hook Senator Each Address Gun Violence at DNC Last Night
July 28, 2016
The tragedy of gun violence and the need for reasonable gun safety laws were addressed last night at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. A mother, a daughter, and a U.S. Senator each recounted painful personal experiences with gun violence and the subsequent frustration they experienced in seeing reasonable gun safety legislation quashed by a Congress in the pocket of the gun lobby.
Orlando mom Christine Leinonen gave one of the most poignant speeches at the Democrats’ gathering last night. Recounting the day her son, Christopher, who was murdered at the Pulse nightclub, was born, she said, “At the time I was a Michigan state trooper. When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn’t argue. I know common-sense gun policies save lives. The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute. An Orlando city commissioner pointed out the terrible math: One minute for a gun to fire so many shots; five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives. I’m glad common-sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died?”
Senator Chris Murphy also spoke about gun violence and the aggravation of dealing with an NRA-controlled GOP. The senator recounted the impact of that tragic day in Newtown, in his state of Connecticut, and his subsequent frustration when reasonable gun-safety bills were defeated in the U.S. Senate only a few months later. “I am furious that in three years,” he said, repeating those two words for emphasis, “three years since Sandy Hook…the Republican Congress has done nothing to stop the next massacre.”
Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary’s murdered principal, also spoke. Addressing the delegates, she began by saying that she’d much rather be watching the proceedings at home with her mother than speaking about the senseless act of gun violence that took her life and the political self-interest that permits such violence to continue. “I’m here tonight without my mother,” Smegielski said, “while too many politicians cower behind the gun lobby instead of standing with American families.”