President Barack Obama demanded a Congressional vote on gun control proposals in an emotional appeal to an audience populated with victims of gun violence during last night’s State of the Union address.
Over 30 victims, or relatives of victims, of gun violence were in the House chamber—many of them holding up photos of their loved ones. They included families of those killed in shooting incidents at Newtown and Oak Creek, as well as former Rep. Gabrielle (Gabby) Giffords who was critically injured during a January 2011 shooting in Tucson; and the parents of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, shot in Chicago less than a week after she appeared as a member of a high school marching band in the presidential inaugural.
“She was 15 years old,” Obama said. “She loved fig newtons and lip glosse. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend.”
President Obama's repeated calls for “Let’s have as vote” on a series of measures ranging from stricter background checks to a renewal of the ban on assault weapons, brought members repeatedly to their feet—though much of the support appeared to come from Obama’s fellow democrats. But when the President invoked by name the list of recent gun shootings that shocked the country, such as the deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, many in the chamber had tears in trheir eyes.
Many supporters of the new gun control measures came to the House wearing green ribbons.
Giving the official Republican Party response to the State of the Union, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida offered an alternative perspective—setting the tone for the tough debates on the issue that loom ahead in Congress.
“We were all heartbroken by the recent tragedy in Connecticut,” Rubio said. “We must effectively deal with the rise of violence in our country. But unconstitutionally undermining the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans is not the way to do it. “