Gun Violence to Take Center Stage at Democratic National Convention
It's a big issue surrounding this election for activists.
By MEGHAN KENEALLY
July 26, 2016, 8:10 PM
• 5 min read
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. -- One of the most emotional issues that Hillary Clinton has made a part of her campaign is the fight to end gun violence -- a clarion call that will be on full display tonight at the Democratic National Convention.
A group of mothers, dubbed by the campaign as “Mothers of the Movement,” will take the stage tonight at the Wells Fargo Center and likely discuss the impact of having their children killed as a result of either guns or police-involved actions.
The mothers' names may not be as familiar as their children: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown and Hadiya Pendleton’s mothers are some of the group that will speak tonight.
Another prominent victim of gun violence took a different stage this morning, however.
Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head after attending an event with her constituents in 2011, spoke to a crowd of about 200 people in Logan Square park in central Philadelphia this morning, saying that it “takes courage” to act on the issue but it is the responsibility of both parties to do so.
“I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line,” she said in her brief remarks. “Now is the time to come together -— Democrats, Republicans, everyone. We must never stop fighting!”
She was followed by Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, who has also campaigned for Clinton.
“Years ago during the height of the Civil Rights movement, I was beaten, left bloodied, unconscious, almost died on that bridge, but I never lost hope,” Lewis said, referencing his involvement in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 when he was beaten by police officers. “I never gave up, and to you who have lost relatives, don’t give up. Don’t get lost in a sea of despair.”
Clinton’s willingness to discuss and integrate gun control into her campaign is something that has stood out to activists, including Gifford’s astronaut husband, Capt. Mark Kelly and Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, both of whom are involved in the group Americans for Responsible Solutions.
“If Hillary Clinton wins, she wins with a mandate on this issue and that's the first time in 20 years that we’ve had a presidential candidate run openly strongly on this issue,” Murphy said at a press briefing for the group this morning shortly after the rally.
Kelly, who founded Americans for Responsible Solutions alongside his wife after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, said Clinton's pick of Tim Kaine, who has an F rating from the National Rifle Association, was extremely reassuring.
“This ticket clearly shows that there's a sea change in the politics of this issue. In the presidential campaigns on down, [candidates] are running on this issue and we feel they will win on this issue,” Kelly said.
He said that Americans for Responsible Solutions has been “working with the Clinton campaign on messaging on this issue” and is optimistic.
“It says a lot on how you can run on this issue, and what we think will happen is that Tim Kaine and Hillary Clinton will win on this issue,” Kelly said.
There definitely appear to be voters who are responding to the talk.
Daphne Handford, a Philadelphia local, attended the rally in Logan Square and said that gun rights is the make-or-break issue of 2016 for her.
“I’m a one issue voter and that issue is gun violence,” Hanford told ABC.
“We either live with hate and feel unsafe or pass laws to end the gun violence,” she said.