Democratic congressional representatives, parents of victims and others concerned about the rash of gun violence across the nation held a rally Wednesday at San Francisco General Hospital as a means for keeping the issue at the forefront while Congress is on its July Fourth holiday break.
About 40 rallies across the country were initiated by House Democrats as an extension to their sit-in last week to protest Republicans' inaction on gun control. Specifically, Democrats have proposed expanded background checks for gun buyers online and at gun shows.
“If you’re a criminal or have mental problems or are on a terrorist watch list, you shouldn’t be able to get a gun,” Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, said to the gathering in San Francisco. Thompson is the chair of the House Gun Violence Protection Task Force.
Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Mike Honda and Eric Swalwell also were on hand.
Parents of gunshot victims spoke about the loss of their loved ones. One was a nurse practitioner at the hospital, where about 200 gunshot victims are treated each year.
“Today is the first day I’ve been back here since my son was killed,” said Clare Senchyna. “The same bullet that pierced his heart shattered mine.”
Christopher Ellis shared her pain. He, too, lost his son to gun violence and believes more regulations are needed.
“It could happen to you, tomorrow," he said. "I never thought it’d happen to me. I’m as normal as everyone else.”
The renewed activism follows the mass shooting in Orlando, where 49 people were killed by a lone gunman who had been under FBI surveillance and had claimed ties to the Islamic State group.
"We need to treat this as a public health issue," said Peggy Knudson, a trauma surgeon who attended the rally. "But we can’t even study it because of a 20-year federal ban on research on gun violence."
House Republicans and gun advocates have said the proposed extended background checks are "misguided" and will do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.
Bay City News contributed to this report.