Displaying photos of loved ones killed by a gunman in a Charleston, South Carolina church, family members joined with top Democrats in Congress to urge action on tighter background checks for gun buyers, saying it’s time for change.
“I am Charleston,” said Andre Duncan, whose aunt, Myra Thompson, was one of the nine people killed in the Emmanuel AME church. “I demand a vote.”
“I am here because there is so much more that Congress can do to keep guns out of the wrong hands and prevent so many of the tragedies that happen in our nation every day,” Duncan said.
That theme from Duncan, of “I demand a vote,” was echoed by others who lost family members in other shootings, and by Democratic leaders in the Congress, who have been unable to push ahead with gun control legislation in recent years.
“Once again, our nation has suffered a staggering tragedy at the hands of someone with outsized hate and easy access to a firearm,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
“But what we need is for this entire Congress to say: ‘We are Charleston,'” Pelosi told a news conference at the U.S. Capitol.
What Pelosi and others want is a plan that was blocked in the aftermath of the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings, which would tighten checks in hopes of weeding out those who are mentally ill.
The plan, known as the “The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act,” likely would not have stopped accused Charleston shooter Dylann Roof.
On board with the effort is the Brady Campaign, a group named for James and Sarah Brady, which has pushed for stronger measures on gun violence for over 30 years.
While backers urged the Congress to act, the hard truth for gun control activists is that they face an uphill battle to get any plan through the Congress dealing with gun violence.
“The American people deserve a vote to finish the job, starting with comprehensive background checks,” Pelosi said.