NEWTOWN, Conn. — Relatives of victims of two recent high-profile mass shootings in the U.S., the Colorado movie theater rampage and the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, traveled with activists to Washington on Tuesday to lobby again for gun control, a trip that took on new urgency in the wake of Monday’s shooting in the capital that killed 13.
The trip by the Newtown Action Alliance gun law advocacy group was planned to mark roughly nine months since the Dec. 14 rampage in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six educators were shot to death. It now also quickly follows Monday’s killings at the Washington Navy Yard.
Members of the group also included those who lost family members in the July 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. Twelve people were gunned down and 70 were wounded.
Among those traveling from Colorado were Megan Sullivan, whose brother, Alex, was killed in the shooting, and her father, Tom.
“This is another moment where it’s just surreal that I’m even in this situation and speaking with other people who have lost their brothers and loved ones,” Megan Sullivan told The Aurora Sentinel on Tuesday.
The Newtown massacre renewed momentum across the country for tighter restrictions on guns. The movement had some early successes, including laws enacted in Connecticut and Colorado, but it has since stalled. A federal effort to enact new background checks fell short in the Senate in April. And in Colorado, angered by the state’s new laws, gun-rights activists achieved the recalls of two Democratic lawmakers in elections last week.
The activists traveling from Connecticut focused their criticism on Congress as they headed to Washington, where they planned to meet with lawmakers Tuesday and today, said Po Murray, one of the founders of Newtown Action Alliance. She said the group also is delivering letters asking members of Congress to pass a background check requirement.
“It’s been nine months and there’s still no action on the federal level,” Carlos Soto, the brother of a teacher who was killed in Newtown, told WFSB-TV. “We’re not gonna go away.”
The Sullivans and the parents of Jessica Ghawi, who also died in the Colorado shooting, also plan to meet with members of Colorado’s congressional delegation to lobby for a renewed push on gun control.
“We’re going to keep pushing along,” Tom Sullivan said in an interview. “That’s what we do.”
The activists now hope lawmakers may be motivated to act now because the killings at the Navy Yard were close to Capitol Hill.
“It definitely brings back terrible feelings, and we know what the families are going through,” Newtown Action Alliance co-founder David Ackert told the Hearst Connecticut Media Group.
“It exacerbates the reason we’re going, and we’re determined to get the politicians to stop looking the other way, now that it’s come to their doorstep.”