The father of a Newtown, Conn., child who survived the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School spoke out today on Capitol Hill with family members from victims of the Aurora, Colo., Virginia Tech, Tucson and Columbine shootings to call for a national conversation on gun control.
"We all need to speak up," Andrei Nikitchyuk said after describing how his son "Bear" went to school Friday morning like he did any other day, and was helping turn in attendance sheets to the principal at the time of the shooting. Bear, a third-grader, "saw bullets passing by" and was pulled into the classroom of Abbey Clements, who barricaded the door, saving his son and a classmate, Nikitchyuk said.
"These two wonderful kids are safe because of the bravery of the wonderful teacher, Mrs. Clements," he said.
Other families whose loved ones were not as lucky in past incidents of gun violence joined Nikitchyuk at the press conference, organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
One mother said not a day goes by that she does not replay the image of a bullet going though her daughter's head at a movie theater in Auror a, Colo. A father wore the tennis shoes his son was wearing when he was killed in the Columbine shooting. That father said inaction on this issue has proved again to be "deadly."
President of the Brady campaign, Dan Gross, said the Newtown shootings mark a "tipping point," in the "bizarre and shameful epidemic" of gun violence in the nation.
"They say Friday's horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School changed everything and it has. It is a tipping point," Gross said. " Reliably pro-gun lobby senators have shifted their positions, saying they can no longer bring themselves to oppose sensible gun safety policies."
Gross called for a "sustained, thoughtful national conversation" about solutions to gun violence.
"A conversation that is respectful of the Second Amendment but cognizant of the risks guns pose to our families and neighborhoods," he said.
Gross responded to Rep. Gohmert, R-Texas, who argued that the massacre could have been prevented if Sandy Hook's principal had been armed.
"That is insane," Gross responded, "That is saying that the only answer that we have to violence is more violence. The only answer that we have to guns is more guns."