Senate vote crushes families devastated by gun violence


McClatchy Newspapers

Families of gun violence victims filled the side of the Senate gallery Wednesday, awaiting a vote on a bill that would expand background checks for gun sales. Some wore ribbons and shirts in kelly green, which has become the color of gun violence remembrance.

As votes of “yea” and “nay” sounded around them from the Senate floor below, a few looked hopeful, and a few looked anxious. Most were emotionless.

When the amendment fell six votes short of the 60 needed for passage, people began to file out. Then, a shout from Patricia Masich, a survivor of a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011, echoed through the chamber – “Shame on you!”

After months of waiting and speaking to lawmakers, the failure came as a crushing disappointment to many working for their loved ones and for the prevention of future shootings.

Carlee Soto, sister of Newtown, Conn., victim and teacher Vicki Soto, stood outside the gallery with tears in her eyes. She and Erica Lafferty, whose mother, Dawn Hochsprung, was principal of Sandy Hook Elementary and was killed, wore green T-shirts that read “Team Vicki Soto” with a flamingo in the center – because Vicki loved flamingos.

Lafferty said reactions from some lawmakers she’s spoken with have been unsympathetic; they told her reform couldn’t have prevented the Newtown shootings.

Christian Heyne is a legislative assistant at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. His mother was shot and killed in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 2005; his father survived multiple gunshots. The tragedy turned him into a gun reform advocate.

He said he was angry and frustrated after the vote. The senators had one job, he said: to protect American lives.

“It brings us to tears,” he said.

Roxanna Green is the mother of Tucson shooting victim Christina-Taylor Green, who was 9 years old when she was killed at a constituent event with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was also shot, in 2011. Green pulled out memorabilia after the vote, pointing out her daughter in a photograph and on a poster.

“I can’t believe we’ve come to this,” she said.

She said she’ll never have her daughter back but that she’ll continue to fight until reforms are made.

“We’re in this to the end,” she said. “It’s not going to stop us.”


Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio, joined at right by incoming Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Calif., and Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., talks with reporters in Washington, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, following a Republican strategy session. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

    GOP border report advises ‘compassionate but tough’ response

    Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who heads a Republican House of Representatives working group on the southern border crisis, offered recommendations Wednesday that she called “common-sense, compassionate but tough solutions” to deal with the surge of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children illegally entering the country.

FILE- In a May 7, 2014 file photo, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his daughter Kelsey, left, scrub the streets with Holland mayor Kurt Dykstra in Holland, Mich. Gov. Snyder has accomplished much of what he said he set out to do when he was elected four years ago: That's more than many governors achieve in a single term. But instead of cruising to re-election on the fulfillment of his 2010 promises, Snyder’s bid has been met with ambivalence by parts of his own party. Some Republicans don’t know what to make of his neutrality on social issues and his reluctance to bash Democrats. And he’s made plenty of enemies among Democrats and organized labor, too.

    Michigan governor's campaign met with ambivalence

    Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has accomplished much of what he set out to do when he was elected four years ago. He's logged improvements in the state's economic health, presided over the creation of 250,000 private-sector jobs and confronted many of Detroit's worsening financial problems.

  • Study: 10M have gained coverage through health law

    A new study estimates that more than 10 million adults gained health insurance by midyear as the coverage expansion under President Barack Obama's law took hold in much of the country.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category