Gun violence victims wrangle surprise meeting with McConnell legal counsel: the inside story


WASHINGTON — In some cases it pays just to show up.

It did on Wednesday for gun manage advocates frustrated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who is refusing to get in touch with any gun bills till President Donald Trump tells him what he desires accomplished.

A exceptional scene unfolded when about two dozen victims of gun violence, such as the suburban Chicago mother who lost two little ones to shootings, survivors of the Parkland and Las Vegas massacres, people from Kentucky plus many Residence Democrats — Rep. Robin Kelly of Illinois was one particular of them — showed up unannounced at McConnell’s workplace in the Russell Developing.

They asked for a meeting.

If they couldn’t get McConnell, they got the subsequent ideal point, his legal counsel, Tiffany Ge.

She spent an extraordinary 80 minutes hearing the painful stories of survivors and victims and their pleas for McConnell to do a thing productive — get in touch with a bill, have a hearing, throw out some suggestions on what Trump could do. I was also in the area, watching this exceptional discussion unfold.

Let me back up and clarify how these gun manage advocates ended up with each other.

They had been in Washington for an “end the violence” gun rally outdoors the Capitol. Father Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor at the Faith Neighborhood of St. Sabina, organized a 600-particular person contingent from Chicago, with 12 buses traveling overnight. The rapper/actor Typical and Democrats Sen. Dick Durbin, Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Rush and Danny Davis and Cook County State’s Lawyer Kim Foxx had been on the stage or speaking.

Gun manage advocates are increasingly focusing on McConnell, who is up for reelection in 2020. Pfleger told me his subsequent move might effectively be to send buses to Kentucky rather than Washington.

Rapper/actor Typical speaks Wednesday in Washington, D.C., at the #EndGunViolence rally.
Lynn Sweet/Sun-Instances

Kelly and Christian Heyne, vice president for policy at Brady United Against Gun Violence spontaneously organized the group at the rally. “Survivors came in to speak to Mitch,” Heyne mentioned. “We did not have any plans in location till we had been at the rally and mentioned, ‘Let’s get this going.’ We had a group of survivors who had been fed up and prepared to act.”

In McConnell’s workplace, Eddie Campbell, the president of the Kentucky Education Association told Ge students “need to really feel safe” in schools and “should not have to go via emergency lockdown drills.”

Hollan Holm was wounded in the head in the December 1997 shooting at Heath Higher College in West Paducah, Ky. Pretty much 22 years later, small has been accomplished and Holm emphasized, “These shootings preserve taking place once again.”

Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri asked Ge if she had any “indication of a timetable of movement.”

And — give Ge credit for candor — she replied, “We are waiting to get a proposal from the White Residence as to what the president is going to do on this problem.”

The advocates want McConnell to take his foot off the brake and let votes, even if Trump ends up vetoing the legislation.

In 2012, Jordan Davis, the son of Rep. Lucy McBath of Georgia, was killed in Jacksonville, Fla., by a white man who mentioned the black youth was playing music also loud.

“We are asking Mitch McConnell to do what’s appropriate,” mentioned McBath, a freshman.

Kelly, whose signature problem is curbing gun violence, told Ge, “It does come off, I am going to be blunt, like he does not give a damn.”

Ge mentioned, “I assure you, it is an vital problem for him.”

Cook County State’s Lawyer Kim Foxx, flanked by Leo Higher College students, all 14 years old, in Washington, D.C., for the anti-gun violence rally: From left, Christopher Robinson Deon Anderson and Jachi Lewis, all from Englewood, and Jahad Henderson, from Beverly.

But no one particular was getting her explanation that McConnell didn’t see the point of placing legislation to a vote Trump wouldn’t sign. His wait-on-Trump method was unacceptable.

Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon from Georgia, mentioned, “We can not continue to wait,” adding, “It’s not a threat.”

Just letting her know.

The victims wanted Ge to hear how gun violence upended their lives.

Las Vegas mass shooting survivor Heather Sallan of Reno told of the horror of “11 minutes of machine gun fire” as bullets whizzed by her in the massacre when a lone gunman killed 59 and wounded 422.

Delphine Cherry of south suburban Hazel Crest lost two young children to gun violence. Her son Tyesa was shot in 1992 by a stray bullet and — who can bear this discomfort — her daughter Tyler was shot in front of her house in 2012.

Cherry asked why McConnell would wait for Trump.

“Just curious. I lost two little ones and practically nothing has changed. Why do I have to wait on a president to pass a bill?… Sounds like it is an excuse to me.”

Parkland shooting survivor Aalayah Eastmond, summed it up, telling Ge, “It’s time for you to inform your boss to do a thing, because it is all in your hands.”


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