(CNN) – Cleopatra and Nathaniel Pendleton, who lost their daughter Hadiya to gun violence last month, talked Wednesday about how they now find themselves in the middle of the gun control debate.
"Talking about her and getting the word out and becoming more involved with the issue is empowering so to speak. It helps," Cleopatra said on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
The couple sat with first lady Michelle Obama during the president's State of the Union address Tuesday night, days after Michelle attended Hadiya's funeral in Chicago on Saturday.
Hadiya, who was 15 when she was shot in a park about a mile away from the Obamas' home, performed in the president's inauguration festivities one week before her death.
Asked where they stand on the gun debate, Cleopatra said she comes from a family of hunters and firmly believes a person has a right to bear arms, but she disagrees that certain types of firearms should be readily available to the public.
"I know we need assault weapons, because we have an army," her husband added. "But how are they getting on our streets? That's what I would like to know."
It appears increasingly unlikely that Congress will pass an assault weapons ban, but President Obama called for lawmakers to at least vote on the proposal, as well as other provisions calling for universal background checks and a limit on the capacity of magazines.
"Each of these proposals deserves a vote in Congress," Obama said during his speech Tuesday night. "If you want to vote no, that's your choice. But these proposals deserve a vote."
Asked Wednesday if a vote is enough, Cleopatra said "it's a start."
"Something is better than nothing, so to say. They need to do something," she said. "This issue is extremely fresh."