The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Gun Violence Victims Challenge Congress to Keep Guns from Dangerous People, on April 16, 5th Anniversary of VA Tech Shooting

Letters Sent Requesting Meetings with Congressional Leaders


On behalf of the 32 Americans murdered by guns every day, Colin Goddard and at least 31 other victims of gun violence will converge on Capitol Hill on April 16 and 17 to challenge Congressional leaders and members to keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people, the Brady Campaign announced today. The victims' challenge comes as the nation observes the anniversaries of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School, and as Americans continue to express outrage over the killing of Trayvon Martin and the guns anywhere for just about anybody agenda of the gun lobby.

Screenings of the documentary, Living for 32, which features Goddard's journey from gun violence survivor to advocate for gun violence prevention, will also take place on college campuses and in communities on April 16.

Goddard, who survived being shot four times on April 16, 2007, Tom Mauser, whose 15-year-old son Daniel was killed in the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999, and Sherilyn Byrdsong, whose husband Ricky was killed on July 2, 1999 by a white supremacist who should not have gotten a gun, will be joined on Capitol Hill on April 16 and 17 by about 30 other victims of gun violence from cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia.

Goddard emailed and hand-delivered letters over the past few days to seven members of Congress seeking meetings with them and the victims on Tuesday, April 17. Those members include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and sponsors of what the Brady Campaign calls the "George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act," Sen. John Thune (R- South Dakota), Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana), and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska).

"Time and again after high-profile shootings, we've heard members of Congress say that now is not the 'appropriate' time to discuss legislation to prevent these tragedies," said Goddard, who works as Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs for Brady. "Well, 32 Americans are murdered every single day in this country. We want to know: When will it be 'appropriate' to talk about keeping us safe? We are tired of living with the tragedy of gun violence, and we want Congress to act now to protect us and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We won't rest until they do."

Brady Campaign President Dan Gross, whose brother Matthew was shot while visiting the Empire State building in 1997, will bring the voice of the American people to bear on April 16 and 17.

"We are coming to Capitol Hill to demand that Congress stand up to the gun lobby. We are coming to demand that Senators reject the 'George Zimmerman Act' and pledge to put the safety of the American people ahead of the gun lobby," said Gross. "Trayvon Martin, the victims of Virginia Tech and Columbine, Sherilyn Byrdsong's husband, my brother's friend, and thousands of other Americans are all dead because the gun lobby has made it easy for dangerous people to get, carry, and use guns. Too many members of Congress have been their accomplices. We're marching up to Capitol Hill to say 'Enough is enough! We will hold you accountable for putting the gun lobby's agenda ahead of the people you were elected to represent.'"

The Brady Campaign recently began mobilizing to stop bills S 2188 and S 2213, which make up what it's calling the "George Zimmerman Armed Vigilante Act." The Senate bills, similar to HR 822, which passed the House late last year, would allow dangerous people like Zimmerman to carry guns in public places, from downtown L.A., to New York's Times Square, even though those states' concealed carry laws make it highly unlikely that Zimmerman would be granted a permit to carry a gun in public.

A copy of a report about the implications of the Act can be found here.

A Tentative Schedule of Events for April 16 and 17

Monday, April 16th

12:00pm - 1:00pm - News Conference with 32 victims from across the U.S. - Outside U.S. Capitol or Room 2456 Rayburn House Office Building

1:00pm - 5:00pm - Media availability with victims; One-on-one interviews

6:30pm - 8:00pm - Reception at George Washington University Screening of Living for 32

8:00pm - 9:30pm - Screening of Documentary Living for 32, followed by Q&A, led by Colin Goddard, George Washington University, Marvin Center

Tuesday, April 17th

11:00 am - News Conference with Congressional leaders and victims from across the U.S., Room 121 Cannon House Office Building - Will discuss specific action Congress can take to prevent gun violence

9:00am - 12:00pm - Reserved for Capitol Hill meetings with Congressional members

1:00pm - 5:00pm - Reserved for Capitol Hill meetings wth Congressional members

Student organizers have arranged screenings for Living for 32 on April 16, at colleges coast-to-coast including: George Washington University, Brown University, Colorado State University at Boulder, Ithaca College, New York University, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Rice University, Skidmore College, State University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton, SUNY New Paltz, Tulane University, University of Arizona Tucson, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland - Baltimore County and the University of Maryland's main campus at College Park, Maryland.

Brady United formerly known as The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and its legislative and grassroots affiliate, the Brady Campaign and its dedicated network of Million Mom March Chapters, is the nation's largest, non-partisan, grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence. We are devoted to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in our communities.