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Theater-shooting families respond to proposed gun legislation

1:44 PM, Jan 24, 2013   |    comments
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Other participants included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey; NY Senator Charles Schumer, CT Senator Richard Blumenthal, CT Senator Christopher Murphy, IL Senator Dick Durbin, CO Representative Ed Perlmutter, NY Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, Washington National Cathedral Dean Reverend Gary Hall and U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran.

The legislation lists 158 models of guns, like the AR series, the AK series and Uzis. The group of legislators argues guns like these do not "serve a practical purpose of sporting or self-defense."

They hope this new assault-weapons ban would close loopholes which plagued the 1994 ban. It also includes banning high-capacity assault magazines like the 100-round magazine which was used in the Aurora theater shootings.

The following letter from the Aurora theater shooting victims' families and friends was sent to Congress regarding the gun legislation proposed on Thursday:

To the members of the Senate and Congress,

Our loved ones were murdered in the Aurora, Colorado theater on July 20th in one of the worst massacres in U.S. history by the exact weapons and high-capacity magazines that Senator Feinstein is addressing in her proposed legislation today.

We support Senator Feinstein for introducing this legislation and for her continued leadership in protecting the safety of the people of our nation. Thank you to all members in this room who stand with us, the families of victims of gun violence. You are giving a voice to those who have forever been silenced.

Our loved ones were gunned down and an entire generation of our families taken away in a matter of seconds. We listened to the 911 tapes played in court and sat in agony as we heard 30 shots fired within 27 seconds, wondering if one of those bullets killed our children.

An AR-15 was used. Tear gas, head-to-toe ballistic gear and over 6,000 rounds of ammunition were easily purchased online - without raising a single red flag in a post 9/11 society.

Every day, our families struggle to get out of bed and try to survive through what is unbearable grief due to the loss of our loved ones - the senseless murder of our children who were riddled with bullets from semi-automatic assault weapons, one carrying high-capacity magazines.

Matt McQuinn, who died protecting his girlfriend, was shot 9 times. Alex Teves was shot in the head while he wrapped his entire body around the love of his life on the floor of the theater. AJ Boik, who brought laughter into his family, was murdered while sitting next to his girlfriend on a movie date night. Jonathan Blunk, who served this country in the military, died an agonizing death after multiple gunshot wounds. Micayla Medek, the youngest child of the family, was killed when the bullet entered her lungs and heart and then severed her spine. Jessica Ghawi was shot in the leg and then the head and a first responder cradled her head in his hands to the hospital as he tried to save her life. Rebecca Ann Wingo, a mother of two small girls, is no longer alive to pursue her dream of helping foster children as this caring person died violently that night, too.

Five others were murdered and 70 other people were shot - some multiple times. Dozens are suffering from physical injuries, multiple painful surgeries and severe mental trauma that will last a lifetime.

That night of unimaginable atrocity all occurred within a short 90 seconds.

In 2012, this nation saw15 mass shootings. Innocent people are dying violently every single day. Our first responders who put their lives on the line to protect us are outgunned, facing these kinds of lethal weapons daily.

We should not be a country whose firefighters have to wear bullet proof vests to do their jobs and save lives. What have we become as a nation when our family, friends and even babies are losing their lives just being at school, watching a movie, going to church, shopping for groceries, and buying Christmas gifts?

Our everyday freedoms as Americans are being taken away by acts of gun violence. Every measure possible that you can enact to help make the public safer is necessary.

Thank you for working to stop this epidemic of violence. While we know that this will not end all gun violence, it is an important beginning to make us all safer.

To quote Martin Luther King, Jr. - one of several great and peaceful men of this country who was killed by gun violence: "Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent on things that matter."

Our future. Our lives. Our children matter.

Thomas Teves (father of Alex Teves)
Caren Teves (mother of Alex Teves)
Sandy Phillips (mother of Jessica Ghawi)
Lonnie Phillips (stepfather of Jessica Ghawi)
Jerri Jackson (mother of Matt McQuinn)
David Jackson (stepfather of Matt McQuinn)
Greg Medek (father of Micayla Medek)
Rena Medek (mother of Micayla Medek)
Marlene Knobbe (grandmother of Micayla Medek)
Robert Wingo, (father of Rebecca Ann Wingo's two children)
Dave Hoover (uncle of AJ Boik)
Theresa Hoover (mother of AJ Boik)
Jessica Watts (cousin of Jonathan Blunk)
Anita Busch (cousin of Greg and Micayla Medek)
Amanda Medek (sister of Micayla Medek)
Shane Nelson (brother of Micayla Medek)

Rep. Perlmutter responded to the letter from the families saying:

"I believe in the Second Amendment, and we have to protect the right to defend ourselves. I believe in liberty and rights of hunters, sportsmen, and personal defense gun owners. But we can't continue silently watching 30,000 deaths a year by guns and near-monthly mass shootings in places we should feel most safe. Every day, families - like the ones impacted in Aurora --and in my neighborhood, in the grocery store, and who call my office are asking for solutions to the heartbreaking problem of gun violence. 

We cannot wait another day, week or month. We cannot let another cop on the street be outgunned, or an innocent child be taken from their family. The time for action is now to keep our kids and communities safe. As the President recently noted, these are weapons of war, and belong in theaters of war... not in our movie theaters, schools, colleges, grocery stores, shopping malls, churches or on our streets. They are for use by our military to protect our country abroad and at home. There is nothing to fear in these ideas, and I will work to ensure the safety of our kids and our communities without infringing upon the rights of lawful, legal and responsible gun owners. " 

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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