USA Today reports that there will be about 20 survivors of gun violence at the State of the Union speech, guests of various gun control supporters in Congress.
Members who say they are providing tickets to gun violence victims include Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Democratic Reps. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island, Carolyn McCarthy of New York, Ed Perlmutter, who represents Aurora, Colo., and Elizabeth Esty, who represents Newtown, Conn., where 20 schoolchildren and six adults were killed in a mass shooting at a school last December.
Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s guest will be a “Newtown resident who was directly affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy,” according to spokesman Nu Wexler.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., lead sponsor of a bill to ban assault weapons, has invited a guest who “was shot as a youngster in a Los Angeles area shooting,” said her spokesman, Brian Weiss.
Former representative Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and her husband, Mark Kelly, will attend as guests of Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., according to a statement on her Facebook page. Giffords was shot in the head two years ago during a mass shooting at a Tuscon grocery store.
Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group co-founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said the constant presence of these individuals with direct experience with gun violence will help keep the pressure on lawmakers to act.
Tickets to the State of the Union Address are scarce. Each member of Congress receives only one ticket to give to a family member or guest, and few exceptions are made.
Asked whether coordinated invitations had precedent, the Office of the House Historian said it was “unable to find evidence of a coordinated effort by representatives and senators to make a political statement by giving their one pass to an advocacy organization or victim group.”
Not to be outdone, gun rights advocates are looking to make a statement as well. Rep. Steve Stockman has invited noted Second Amendment firebrand Ted Nugent to attend the speech as well:
While other members of Congress are hosting gun-control advocates for Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Rep. Steve Stockman has given one of his visitor’s gallery tickets to Ted Nugent, the conservative gun-rights supporter.
“I am excited to have a patriot like Ted Nugent joining me in the House Chamber to hear from President Obama,” Mr. Stockman said in a statement announcing the choice. “After the address I’m sure Ted will have plenty to say.”
After the Connecticut school shooting rampage last year, Mr. Obama announced he would push for major changes to the country’s gun laws, and he is expected to renew that call in his Tuesday speech.
To add pressure, gun-control supporters in Congress have decided to invite victims of gun crimes to sit in the galleries.
Mr. Stockman’s decision, though, adds a prominent gun-rights advocate and outspoken conservative to the gallery.
Something has to be done to counter the raw exploitation of people’s grief by gun control advocates. It is unprecedented to pack the gallery with supporters of a single issue, and the crass emotionalism that gun control supporters are seeking to elicit from viewers is unconscionable.
The founders warned against arousing the passions of citizens, passing legislation not because it is wise, or needed, but because some politician was able to tap the emotions of the mob and stampede Congress. This is precisely what Democrats are trying to do – and they should be punished for it at the ballot box.