Lawmakers invite gun violence survivors to State of the Union
February 11th, 2013
04:40 PM ET
10 years ago

Lawmakers invite gun violence survivors to State of the Union

(CNN) – President Barack Obama will spend the bulk of Tuesday's State of the Union address talking about jobs and the economy, administration officials have told CNN.

But as he addresses the joint session of Congress, one group in the House chamber will be listening for something else: the president's remarks on gun control.

Watch CNN's comprehensive coverage of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address starting Tuesday night at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV and follow online at or via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Follow our real-time State of the Union live blog at

Seated in the gallery will be at least 20 survivors of gun violence invited to attend the annual event by members of Congress, who are each given one ticket for a guest to view the speech in person.

The effort to invite the Americans affected by gun violence is organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. They've been vocal advocates for stricter gun control restrictions, airing television spots calling for legislative action following December's massacre at an elementary school in Connecticut.

"This is a way of continuing the momentum, keeping the focus on the need for gun control legislation so we can further protect the people in our communities," Rep. Jim Langevin, D-Rhode Island, told CNN's Brianna Keilar on Sunday. A gun accident in 1980 left Langevin a quadriplegic.

"I want every member of Congress to known that when the president is speaking that night, he’s addressing the nation, and he’s talking about gun control, members of Congress are going to look up and they’re going to see people in the gallery, and they’re going to know those people have been affected by gun violence," Langevin said.

Among the lawmakers inviting gun violence survivors to Tuesday's speech is Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader. Democratic lawmakers who represent Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado, are also inviting people affected by violence. Both of those communities were sites of deadly shootings in the last year.

People who were affected by both those shootings will be at Tuesday's speech. Carlos Soto, Jr., whose older sister Vicki was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary school, was invited by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut. Soto was killed as she attempted to hide her first grade students.

And Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, invited Teresa Hoover, who lost her son A.J. Boik in the Aurora movie theater shooting last summer.

Other invitees include parents of children gunned down in gang violence, and family members of police officers who were shot.

In a letter to colleagues in the House Democratic caucus last month, four lawmakers wrote it was "vital that we include the American public and give a voice to our constituents as we search for comprehensive solutions to this problem."

"It is our hope that their presence in the House Gallery will send a strong message that it is long past time to act," the Democrats wrote. The signers were Reps. Langevin, Carolyn McCarthy, Keith Ellison, Rosa DeLauro and David Cicilline.

Joining the group invited by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns effort will be Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly, who were invited to attend the State of the Union by Rep. Ron Barber and Sen. John McCain. Both Barber and McCain represent Arizona, the state where Giffords was seriously injured during a shooting in 2011.

And the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old Chicago girl shot and killed in Chicago last month, will be guests in first lady Michelle Obama's box Tuesday. Pendleton was killed just a week after she performed in the festivities surrounding President Barack Obama's second inauguration, and the first lady attended her funeral on Saturday.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Moose

    Where are the jobs ?????????????

    February 11, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. GianCarlo

    The Republican are inviting Ted Nutgent? (not a typo) why don't they just invite the President of the KKK, after all that is who they model themselves after. The GOP is becoming a big freaking joke.

    February 11, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. Sal

    Saw the news that A**hole Coffman (from NUT COUNTRY, Texas) invited nutty Nugent, too. Yes, you got it: Coffman is a GOPer.

    February 11, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Lawmakers invite gun violence survivors to State of the Union"

    Don't worry: The Nooge wil be there to insult and offend them all solely by virtue of his presence.

    February 11, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "President Barack Obama will spend the bulk of Tuesday's State of the Union address talking about jobs and the economy"

    And the MSM will spend the bulk of its coverage of the SOTU pretending he didn't.

    February 11, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. BeverlyNC

    Did you know a Republican Tea Party Congressman has invited TED NUGENT to be his "guest" at the State of the Union speech? Why would any sane person invite a violent gun user and someone the Secret Service has watched because NUGENT has repeatedly threatened to kill President Obama???? Nugent should be banned from the speech or be stripped searched and surrounded by Secret Service and instantly removed the second he opens his mouth to yell some foul language at the President. This Congressman should be on the "defeat at all cost" list for 2014. He obviously has no common sense or respect for his office.

    February 11, 2013 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  7. Mikey

    @Moose – "Where are the jobs ?????????????"
    The economy has added 5.3 million jobs in the past 3 years, 1.7 million of them in the past year. The jobs have gone to countries where they pay the worker $1 or $2 per hour, sometimes even less. Also, have you noticed all the self checkout lines at the grocery store, drug store, hardware store? How about the automated systems when you call many businesses? That's where the jobs are going.

    Try finding real answers, rather than mindlessly blaming the President, who you simply don't like because..... why?

    February 11, 2013 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Ross Riviere

    My understanding is that the opposition party (in this case the GOP) is given free network time to give their official response to the President's State of the Union address. It seems to me that either Rubio or Paul should give the response, but not both of them. The other response should have to be a paid political address.

    February 11, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    This nation needs GUN-BAN LAWS. Period.

    February 11, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  10. Carol Durante

    I hope Congress can put everything aside and get down to business.

    February 11, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  11. geggyg

    Ask the jobs/wealth greators they had a tax cut for 3 years . and arent tax cuts for the wealthy supposed to create jobs

    February 11, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. jinx88

    The GOP is getting more interesting by the minute. Ted Nugent was invited by a congressman to attend, why cause Ted is such a good role model? What a joke, its hard to believe I was once a Republican. This Repub party has become a joke and they will get what the deserve in 2014.

    February 11, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    There needs to be something done to encourage gun safety as well as people securing their weapons from those that are not able to handle it.

    February 11, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  14. Denny

    " President Barack Obama will spend the bulk of Tuesday's State of the Union address talking about jobs and the economy, administration officials have told CNN."
    Close CNN, but allow me to make some corrections:

    'President Barack Hussein Obama will spend the bulk of Tuesday's State of the Union address talking about his lack of ability to create jobs because he's too busy spending the money of the hard working tax payer on his vacations, golf games and continuous campaigning. And Barack Hussein Obama will talk about our poor economy because he hasn't a clue on what he's doing and how to fix it, only knows how to destroy our economy.'

    February 11, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  15. PJ

    "Where are the jobs"?
    Ask the obstructionist Republicans.

    February 11, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Did some jerk politician from Texas invite Ted Nugget ?

    February 12, 2013 03:31 am at 3:31 am |
  17. LibParrots

    More grandstanding, that should fix all the gang violence. I guess if the laws were tougher these gang bangers would have been stopped at the gun store...... not so much. I was impressed by Mr. Pendletons comments however, he said make it harder for criminals to to obtain guns and easier for law abiding citizens. Even in the face of tragedy he knows where the crime is coming from and also, that punishing, taxing, targeting etc of legal gun owners and manufacturers is not a solution.

    February 12, 2013 06:41 am at 6:41 am |