Some California lawmakers now embroiled in the nation’s gun-control debate will bring gun-violence victims with them as guests to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight.
Stepakoff was six years old in 1999 when he was shot in the leg during the North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting in Granada Hills, near Los Angeles. The gunman was a white supremacist who fired more than 70 rounds from a semi-automatic assault rifle, injuring five people including three young children.
Now a Cal State Northridge student, Stepakoff is a member of the board of Women Against Gun Violence and is involved with Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Josh is a remarkable young man whose life was forever changed by a senseless act of mass gun violence.” Feinstein said in a news release. “Since his tragic experience, Josh has become a voice for young victims across the country. It is important for members of Congress to see the faces behind these tragedies of gun violence.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, who led House Democrats’ gun-violence task force, will host Elvin Daniel of McHenry, Ill., whose sister, Zina Daniel, was shot and killed by her husband in October inside the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield, Wisc. Two others were killed and four were injured in the shooting.
“Whether you’re an NRA member like Elvin, a hunter and gun owner like me, or one of the millions of Americans who have never fired a gun, we can all agree that we need to do everything we can to keep firearms out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them,” Thompson said in a news release. “Elvin has dedicated himself to helping the victims of gun violence and it is my high honor to host such an extraordinary man at the State of the Union.”
Shortly before she was killed, Zina Daniel had been granted a restraining order against her husband which prohibited him from purchasing a gun. Nonetheless, he was able to buy a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun online two days after the restraining order was issued. In Thompson’s news release, Daniel noted his sister’s killer “was able to buy a firearm from a private seller without a criminal background check.
“As a gun owner and an NRA member, I support common-sense reforms to fix our broken gun laws,” Daniel said. “It’s time for our leaders in Washington to act, so that others do not have to experience the grief I’ll live with for the rest of my life.”
Other lawmakers bringing relatives of gun-violence victims at the State of the Union include Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.; Rep Diana Degette, D-Colo.; Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.; Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M.; Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I.; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.; Rep. Eleanor Norton, D-D.C.; Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo.; Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.; Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz.; and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
The president’s State of the Union address will be broadcast live at 6 p.m. Pacific Time on most channels. I’ll be tweeting at @Josh_Richman, and later posting some reactions here.