As Congress appears ready to pursue at least some bipartisan gun reform measures, a number of House Democrats will be putting an even stronger spotlight on the issue of gun violence during next week’s State of the Union address.
Several Democrats will be seated next to people who’ve been affected by gun violence, including the family members of many shooting victims, as their official guests during president’s annual address on Tuesday.
The idea was first floated by a handful of representatives in a letter sent last month penned by gun control advocates including Rosa DeLauro, Carolyn McCarthy, Keith Ellison and David Cicilline. They were led in that cause by Jim Langevin, a Rhode Island Democrat whose spinal cord was severed when he was a child by a ricocheted bullet from a gun that accidentally discharged. Langevin is the only quadriplegic to have served in Congress.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California says her guest will be a child from Newtown, Ct. Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro will bring the brother of Vicki Soto, a Sandy Hook teacher who died in the massacre.
Other Democrats have chosen to bring constituents from their home states. Maryland’s Chris Van Hollen will bring Carol Price as his guest; her son was killed in a shooting many years ago. Van Hollen told reporters on Friday that Price’s son’s shooting helped to motivate lawmakers to pass legislation requiring trigger locks on guns in Maryland. Illinois’s Jan Schakowsky will bring Carolyn Murray, a mother who lost her son to a shooting in Evanston late last year.
Each member of Congress is allowed one guest for the State of the Union. The White House has yet to announce which guests will accompany the First Lady.