The mother of one of the survivors of the Virginia Tech shooting told elected leaders to stand up to the NRA, a group she argues doesn't even deserve to be "at the table" in the gun safety debate.
Lori Haas joined PoliticsNation Wednesday after attending the contentious Senate hearing which featured testimony from gun control advocates, gun rights supporters, and experts in law enforcement. NRA head Wayne LaPierre voiced some of the strongest opposition to new regulations, including shooting down a proposal to close the background check loophole.
"We are hopeful and impressed with some of our leadership on the hill but frankly we need leadership from all of our representatives," Haas said. "It shouldn't take much courage to stand up to the NRA. Courage is facing down the barrel of a gun, and my daughter did that and there were 16 other injured students at Virginia Tech who did that."
"The NRA should not even be at the table," she said. "I don't see reports from them, I don't see studies from them, I don't see activities from them, I don't see policies from them that contribute to the public safety debate."
Haas, who joined the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence as an organizer in her home state of Virginia in 2010, pushed back against those who think argue regulations like background checks attack legal gun owners in America. "I find it very, very telling that the commentary is always 'you're targeting law abiding citizens'," she said. "No, we're not targeting law abiding citizens, we're targeting criminals, dangerous individuals, felons, domestic abusers, terrorists. We want to stop those individuals from getting a firearm and harming our neighbors, our friends, our communities."
"We need to do a background check on all buyers on all gun sales."
Haas is not alone. Recent polls show more than 90% of Americans want to close background check loopholes. Even 85% of NRA members supported such an initiative in a recent poll, despite Wayne LaPierre's recent opposition to the proposal.
Haas also reflected on the pain that Hadiya Pendleton's mother is dealing with right now. Pendleton, who performed at the Inauguration just last week, was shot and killed in a Chicago park on Tuesday.
"I certainly hope that our elected leaders will listen to mothers [like Pendleton's mother] and to Gabby Giffords," she said. "I've been to Newtown, I've been to Aurora, I've been to Oak Creek. These are children, these are somebody's child, somebody's mother, somebody's cousin, aunt, brother."
"When you sit and talk to these survivors, two-to-one they all want the same thing. They want to prevent gun violence from visiting their pain, their horror, their sorrow, on another family."
"We can do a better job at preventing gun violence and we have to protect Americans," she said "Children of all walks of life deserve to live in a gun-violence-free neighborhood."