Lawmakers and loved ones of gun violence victims stood side-by-side on the steps of the state capitol Monday, many calling on Congress to skip their summer recess and vote to tighten federal gun laws.
“Let’s have a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Let’s have universal background checks,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) told the crowd.
Tara Gottlieb’s parents were shot and killed by a robber in their Fairfield jewelry store in 2005.
“I sort of felt like it was a random act of violence but I now I don’t find it to be random at all. I think it’s preventable,” said Gottlieb. “If you have an ounce of compassion in you do your job, call a vote, pass legislation to keep our country safe,” was her message to lawmakers in Washington.
Saturday’s shooting at an El Paso, Texas Walmart is being investigated as a case of domestic terrorism after the shooter’s racist online writings surfaced. Saying the situation lies squarely on the shoulders of the president, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin called Donald Trump the “Hater in Chief.”
“If you believe Mr. President that hate pulled the trigger then those who enable hatred pull the trigger,” Bronin said.
In his speech to the nation Monday, the president denounced the two mass shootings over the weekend that took the lives of more than 30 people.
“In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America.”
No Republican lawmakers spoke at the rally. Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz made a point at the outset of saying those on the other side of the aisle were invited.
“Let me say that the silence on the other side is deafening,” said Bysiewicz.
Republican Party Chairman JR Romano told NBC Connecticut he wasn’t invited to the rally.
Romano called the rally, “highly partisan,” and “instead of coming together, (the Democrats) rhetoric is divisive.”
He reiterated the president’s statement calling for the death penalty for the El Paso shooting suspect and said, “any form of terrorism has no place in the United States.”
Gun control advocate Marcus Wilson hopes lawmakers don’t lose sight of the problems plaguing inner cities as they search for solutions to mass shootings.
“I know plenty of close friends, relatives, that got shots. Some still alive. Some got killed,” said Wilson. It shouldn’t take for a mass shooting for us to come together. I feel like had we done this before this would have avoided a lot of problems and issues.”
Dozens of members from the national gun control advocacy group, Moms Demand Action, flanked lawmakers on the steps of the Connecticut Capitol on Monday.
“I couldn’t not be here. It’s too important. It’s a life or death issue,” said Gottlieb, a member of the group.
“What I have in common with those people is that a mother and a father and families and friends had to hear the news that their loved one is not coming home,” said Tammy De La Cruz tearfully.
Those were the words De La Cruz heard in 2016. She said her 24-year-old son with an infectious smile, Joey Gingerella, was fatally shot around the corner of their Groton home while coming to the aid of a woman being beaten by her boyfriend.
“My son made the ultimate sacrifice. He risked his life to save another,” she said.
De La Cruz recently joined Moms Demand Action. She said Monday was her first rally. She said she’s sick of the inaction in Washington.
“I’m just, I’m done,” she said.
De La Cruz, who spent the weekend rallying outside the White House at a national Moms Demand Action conference, said Monday’s rally brought back painful memories of her loss. However, she said she’s not giving up on her son’s legacy.
“I’m his voice now. He doesn’t have one. I’m his voice,” she said.