Twenty six victims of gun violence will attend the State of the Union on Tuesday night, each wearing a black and white ribbon to signify their commitment to sensible gun laws. They all plan to stand silently during the portion of the President’s speech about gun safety regulations.
The number of attendees is a reminder of the 26 victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school, which sparked a renewed debate about the role of government in limiting gun violence. Among the victims and relatives of victims who will be in attendance are:
1. Gabby Giffords and her husband. The former Congresswoman from Arizona was the victim of an assassination attempt just over two years ago. Her assailant killed a total of 6 people and injured 13 in a parking lot in Tucson. Giffords was shot in the head, but has made a remarkable recovery. Together with her husband, Mark Kelly, Giffords has since launched a gun violence prevention group called Americans for Responsible Solutions. She and Kelly are guests of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ).
2. Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ). Barber is not just a member of Congress, but also a victim of gun violence. He was in attendance when Giffords was shot, and is among the 13 injured. He was shot in the thigh and the face. After the experience, he won a special election for Giffords’ seat, and then won re-election to a full term in 2012.
3. Hadiya Pendleton’s parents. The parents of murdered 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who performed at President Obama’s second inauguration just days before she was murdered in a case of mistaken identity, will attend the State of the Union. Pendleton was a victim of Chicago’s horrible gang violence. Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton and Nathaniel A. Pendleton are guests of First Lady Michelle Obama.
4. Mother Carolyn Murray. Murray’s son, Justin, was shot and killed outside of his grandmother’s home in Evanston, Illinois, in November of 2012. His mother, Carolyn organized a gun buyback just three weeks after his death. She is the guest of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL).
5. Sandy Hook teacher Kaitlin Roig. As a first grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the consequences of mass killings couldn’t hit closer to home for Kaitlin Roig. She was a hero during the shooting, hiding her classroom of kids in the bathroom as the gunman rampaged through the school. She is a guest of President Obama.
6. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY). Congresswoman McCarthy has dedicated her life to fighting for stronger gun regulations, ever since her husband was killed and son critically injured in a mass shooting on the Long Island Rail Road. She has spearheaded efforts in every Congress to try to mandate background checks on every gun sale, and to limit the capacity of magazine clips.
7. Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI). Langevin has been a quadriplegic since he was involved in a gun accident at the age of 16. He was working as a volunteer at a police department when a gun discharged and his spinal cord was severed. Langevin is the only quadriplegic to ever serve in Congress.
More victims, including relatives of those killed in Tucson and Aurora, Colorado, will also be in attendance as guests of other members of Congress.