Wed, Apr 18, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Survivors, families mark US shootings’ anniversary

EMOTIONAL ISSUE:The fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings came at a time of intense debate over gun laws, race relations and self-defense

AFP, Washington

Survivors and relatives of victims of US shootings marked the fifth anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre on Monday by calling on the US Congress to “put an end to this madness” of gun violence.

The anniversary of the worst school shooting in US history, in which 32 students and faculty members died, comes at a moment of intense debate over US gun laws, race relations and the right to self-defense.

“Today, 32 more will be murdered by guns in our nation. Yes, another Virginia Tech will happen today, like it happens every day,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told reporters outside the US Capitol, backed by a symbolic 32 survivors and relatives of victims from various massacres and shooting sprees.

“And that’s why we’re here to say enough is enough, and to hold the people who do their work in that building behind us accountable to put an end to this madness,” he said.

Virginia Tech was the scene of the worst school shooting in US history when Cho Seung-hui, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech student born in South Korea, shot to death 32 fellow classmates and teachers before killing himself.

Gun-control advocates went to work after the massacre, as well as after last year’s shooting of US congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in a bid to toughen gun laws.

However, they were rebuffed by lawmakers “who have said, basically, now is not the time to talk about gun policy,” according to Colin Goddard, who suffered four gunshot wounds at Virginia Tech and is now assistant director of legislative affairs for the Brady Campaign.

“We are here to say that now is the time for Congress to talk about gun violence in America,” he said.

The Brady Campaign called on US lawmakers to reject US Senate bills that would expand the right to carry concealed weapons. It said the 32 victims had an appointment on Monday with Senator David Vitter, a Republican sponsor of one of the bills, but that his office canceled the meeting.

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