Orlando shooting survivors lead emotional plea for gun control at DNC

Tears flow in Philadelphia arena as victims of gun violence including former congresswoman Gabby Giffords come out in support of Hillary Clinton

Orlando shooting survivors lead emotional plea for gun control at DNC

The mother of 32-year-old Drew Leinonen, who was killed alongside his boyfriend at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last month, delivered an emotionally searing plea for reasonable gun control at the Democratic national convention on Wednesday.

Tears flowed freely in the Philadelphia arena as Christine Leinonen, comforted by survivors Brandon Wolf and Jose Arraigada, she remembered her only son.

His paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp, so it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate, she said as the crowd rose to their feet in sustained applause.

Her son was murdered along with 48 others after a gunman armed with two semi-automatic weapons opened fire inside the Orlando nightclub.

The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute one minute for a gun to fire so many shots. Five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives, she said.

Orlando shooting survivors lead emotional plea for gun control at DNC
Delegates listen to the speech of Christine Leinonen, during the third night of the Democratic national convention. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Gun violence has opened a predictably partisan divide as one of the most volatile fault lines of the 2016 election, with Hillary Clinton pledging to fight for gun control reforms and promising to stand up to the powerful lobby group opposed these laws, the National Rifle Association.

As Leinonen and the relatives of three other mass shootings at a political rally in Tucson, a church in Charleston and a school in Newtown addressed the Democratic national convention, the NRA unveiled a new attack ad in battleground states claiming that your right to own a gun for self-defense is at risk in this election.

The ad featured Kimberly Corban, a rape survivor and gun rights advocate, who implies in the ad that Clinton wants to abolish the second amendment, a false claim the gun rights advocates have propagated.

Leinonen was followed by the daughter of the principal of Sandy Hook elementary school who was killed while trying to protect her students, and two survivors of the mass shooting inside Charleston AME church in South Carolina that left nine parishioners dead.

Orlando shooting survivors lead emotional plea for gun control at DNC
Former US representative Gabby Giffords, who was the victim of a shooting attack while she was a member of Congress. Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

Introducing the survivors, actress Angela Bassett read the name of each of the victims. We say their names but that is not enough, is it? she asked.

The powerful band of speakers was followed by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who walked unaided to the podium.

Giffords survived an assassination attempt by a gunman who opened fire during a Congress on your corner meeting in the parking lot of a Tucson grocery store. Since the attack, in which six people died, Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, have been ardent advocates for more gun control.

Giffords has appeared on the campaign trail as a powerful advocate for Clinton. On Wednesday, she brought the crowd to its feet and waved as they chanted Gabby!

Speaking is difficult for me, Giffords said. But come January, I want to say these two words: Madam President.

Source: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us"></a>