Americans Told Us How Their Lives Have Been Torn Apart By Gun Violence

As the U.S. was still reeling from back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, we started asking Americans from different generations and walks of life how gun violence in the country has impacted them personally.

Then, on Wednesday night, an armed man shot six police officers in north Philadelphia during an eight-hour standoff.

“When Columbine happened, I felt like ‘What’s going to happen now? Are they going to change the gun laws?’ But nothing happened. Then Sandy Hook happened and I thought ‘Now they’re really going to do something about it’ and nothing happened,” Diana Torres, 42, said. “At this point, I feel like what else has to happen for this to change?”

America’s rate of murder or manslaughter by firearm is the highest in the developed world.

“It’s really been normalized that gun violence is a part of my everyday life,” said Jolie Simone Barga, 14. “We don’t feel safe at school. We don’t feel safe going to the movie theater. We don’t go and feel safe at a store.”

Every day, 100 Americans are killed with guns, and hundreds more are injured, according to Everytown research. Families, friends, colleagues, and communities are left with the loss of loved ones and with persistent fear about the next mass shooting.

“This isn’t just a problem that happened in El Paso or a problem that happened in Dayton, Ohio. It can happen anywhere,” Barga said. “Just because it was in those places the other day, [doesn’t mean] that it can be in your hometown the next.”
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Rep. Eric Swalwell Is Doing Everything He Can to Stay in the 2020 Race

Eric Swalwell appears on television a lot- enough that people in Iowa tell him that as he’s getting coffee in cafes in Dubuque.

The California congressman has been one of the most vocal members of the House Intelligence Committee about holding the president and his administration accountable in the Russia investigations.

Now, Swalwell’s trying to use that notoriety in a bid for president. But in a field of 21 Democrats, he’s learning that being a cable news darling isn’t enough. He’s currently polling at just 1% but he says he’s getting comfortable sticking out his hand to say he’s running for president.

“It’s very, I would say intimidating to say you’re running for president,” he said in a car ride between events in eastern Iowa at the beginning of the month.

“Every chance I get, I’m gonna introduce myself like I’m not starting, you know, as Vice President Biden here,” he added of his chances of making it all the way.

VICE News spent 48 hours with Swalwell in Iowa, where he’s trying to prove he can appeal to a broad demographic of Americans. He’s the son of a sheriff, but Swalwell is making gun control and reform his signature issue, even hosting one of his campaign launch events in Parkland, Florida.

At a Bellevue house party on Friday, Swalwell told a gathering of the Jackson County Democrats about his experience in Congress trying to work on the divisive issue.

“I came to Congress right after Sandy Hook happened,” he said. “I had hoped that I could be a part of a Congress that would actually do something about what had happened. Nothing.”

But as he campaigns, Swalwell is also trying to assure voters that his coastal progressive views don’t blind him to the needs of Trump voters. Swalwell says that his life experiences- born in Iowa, educated in the south, and representing a diverse district in California -gives him credibility with all voters.

“My parents they’re both Republicans. I was reaching across the dinner table before I ever had to reach across the aisle to work with the Republicans,” he told a group of about 20 people at the Uptown Cafe in Jefferson, Iowa. He joked that he goes on Fox News so that his parents will see him on TV.

When asked by Vice News why he’s running in such a crowded field, Swalwell more or less described a fading American dream as his motivation.

“I see a lot of people who work really hard just like my parents did but they don’t see it adding up to what it added up for my parents which was their son was the first in the family to go to college. Instead, they’re just running in place. They’re living paycheck to paycheck. They see a Washington and gridlock and not doing anything about it.”

Jose Ibarra, a city councilman in Storm Lake, Iowa, hosted Swalwell for a “fight night” party at his parents’ house on Saturday evening. Swalwell arrived with a case of beer and tucked into tacos and chips before making his case to a small- but more diverse group than is typical- about why they should support him for president.

Ibarra said he thinks any Democrat has a chance right now of beating Trump- and included Swalwell in that category.

“I mean we look at the Democrats right and they’re actually very educated. They know how to communicate with people. They know what’s wrong with the country,” Ibarra told VICE News in the backyard. “They know that we’re divided. Donald Trump has really done nothing for them, for the small guys. So I believe that if any Democrat can connect with the 99 percent. And make it into a point that he’s going to bring the country back together I think that anybody can beat Donald Trump.”

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Bomb threat empties Sandy Hook on anniversary

(14 Dec 2018) A bomb threat forced the evacuation of the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, a day of memorial services and moments of silence to mark the sixth anniversary of the massacre of 20 first-graders and six educators. (Dec. 14)

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US students complete tour against gun violence

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High Shool, who lost 17 of their peers last February in a mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, end their “Road To Change” tour in Newtown, Connecticut, a town scarred by the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

Why The Best Hope For Gun Control Isn’t Congress — It’s With The States (HBO)

As hundreds of thousands of people marched on Washington and local state legislatures, exercising their rights to vocally protest the gun lobby, advocates across the country have also been toiling away on a less visible plan for gun reform, taking it state by state.

In Colorado, three gun rights activists who lost family members in Columbine, Aurora, and Sandy Hook testified for lawmakers at two hearings. At the first, they spoke in support of legislation that proposed a ban on bump stocks — the accessory used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire faster. In the second hearing, they fought against a bill to repeal the current ban on high-capacity magazines.

Colorado is generally a pro-gun state, and so far, activists like Tom Mauser, Tom Sullivan, Jane Daugherty and other mass shooting survivors have had more losses than wins.

Though they believed their chances might be better this time around with the renewed momentum behind the national gun debate, state lawmakers didn’t take the bait. And even among those directly touched by gun violence, a consensus remains elusive: Patrick Neville, a Columbine survivor and lawmaker, tells us he doesn’t buy the idea that increased gun control will create safer schools or communities — and he’s far from alone.

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14K empty shoes commemorate all victims of school shootings in US

Gun control activists and volunteers laid 7,000 pairs of shoes on the lawn of the Capitol building in a haunting memorial to all of the children killed by gun violence in the US since the Sandy Hook massacre. READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/910a

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Gun Violence Memorial Displays Shoes on Capitol

Thousands of empty pairs of shoes were lined up in front of the Capitol building on Tuesday morning by activists to represent children killed by gun violence in the United States since the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. (March 13)

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Pete Souza Recalls Sandy Hook — The Worst Day Of Obama’s Presidency

Former chief official White House photographer Pete Souza, author of “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” describes what it was like to photograph Obama immediately following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Following is a transcript of the video. 

Pete Souza: My name is Pete Souza, I was the chief official photographer for President Obama.

To set the scene a little bit, it was about a month since he had been reelected to a second term, so there was that sort of afterglow that was still being felt, I think, throughout the

White House. It was also Christmastime at the White House, so there were these decorations and Christmas trees, a very festive time of the year.

And word began to come out that there had been the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, and finally his Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan came up to the Oval Office, he had gathered all the facts, had talked to the FBI, and told the president that indeed 26 people had been shot, including 20 first grade kids.

In the picture, you see just kind of the energy just zap out of the president. I think he was thinking of this not only as a president, but imagining what it must be like as a parent. The horror of sending your six-year-old kid off to school, you put him on the school bus, and you never see them again because some crazy guy shot them to death, point blank, at their school.

So I think it was a very, he was very emotional, and just thinking about this as a fellow parent, almost more so than as a president.

Not long thereafter he had to go make a statement in the White House Press Briefing Room and it was difficult for him to maintain his emotions as he talked about this. And I think that was probably when he cried for the first time.

Barack Obama (12/14/12): They had their entire lives ahead of them. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers, men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams.

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Mental Health Problems Persist after Sandy Hook

Five years after the Sandy Hook massacre, efforts to improve mental health care for young people have had mixed results. Many reforms included in key piece of federal legislation remain unfunded. (Dec. 13)

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