Gun reform advocates gathered outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to mark the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims and send a loud message to lawmakers: End gun violence now.
The rally followed an intense House Judiciary Committee hearing on assault weapons and featured comments from activists and congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Georgia Rep. John Lewis.
Hip hop artist Common also appeared at the demonstration and emphasized the importance of connecting with communities that have experienced tragedies.
Newsy spoke with a few of the attendees in D.C., including some who have lost loved ones to gun violence.
Po Murray, chairwoman of the advocacy group Newtown Action Alliance, said: "We needed to learn how to out-shout the gun lobby that's been around for decades, building their capacity and resources. And after the Sandy Hook tragedy, what we've done is change the conversation and we're changing the culture now, to the point where the majority of Americans support common-sense gun laws—background checks, assault weapons ban. And it's just a matter of time before the electorate decides to take action at the polls."
Pastor Zonia Cooper's 23-year-old son was killed by gun violence.
She said: "It's not that I wasn't on board before, but now it's more personal. So, most of the time, it's going to be personal for somebody to get on board. So, being persistent to continue to do this so that they can know that this is important. When you're tired of going to the playground with bullet-proof backpacks on—this is ridiculous. "
Cooper added: "When do we get back to picnics in the park? When do we get back to being able to go to church and not have security guards at the door?"
Pam Bosely of the group Purpose Over Pain also lost her son to gun violence.
She said: "We want them to do their job and pass some gun bills, and stop making excuses. Because that's all we see and hear is excuses, excuses, excuses. I want them to fight hard, like we fight in our community, for us to live because we all deserve to have our constitutional right to live and we all deserve to have our pursuit of happiness."
Bosely continued: "They talk about 'We want to take away guns,' we're not asking for that. A lot of constituents are for universal background check and [an] assault weapon ban, so constituents need to talk [to their representatives]. And if they don't do right, vote them out."