On April 8, 2013 hundreds gathered at University of Hartford (UHartford) in Connecticut to hear an important talk on gun control by President Obama. I was one of the lucky ones who got to attend the talk live. Over 3,100 individuals were gathered at the venue to hear the President talk, with several hundreds in line outside hoping to somehow get entry to the event or at the very least to catch a glimpse of the President on his way in and out. Prior to making remarks, the President spent around 45 minutes with families of the victims of Sandy Hook.
Connecticut (CT) Governor Dan Malloy took the stage prior to the President’s speech to reinforce the fact that CT has been one of the few states to take action on gun control. The gun control bill that passed a week before Obama’s UHartford talk made CT legislation fall in line with Colorado, Maryland, and New York who also have stricter gun control laws.
The President was introduced not by the Governor or any other staff, but instead, was introduced by the parents of a boy named Dylan who died in Sandy Hook. Nicole Hockley and her husband discussed how their lives changed in that one instant. Truly emotional and wanting change, she stressed that her and her family can no longer shy away from the effects of gun violence, and neither should anyone else! She stressed that Connecticut legislators understood the “love and logic” of needing to curb gun violence and were correctly persuaded to pass a bill, so why not other states and why not Congress? She reminded audience members that action shouldn’t occur only after tragedy strikes them on a personal level!
“If you want to protect your children, if you want to avoid this loss, you will not turn away either! Do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy.” said Hockley.
The President was then introduced to resounding applause and a standing ovation. Most stayed standing for the first 10 minutes or so of his speech. In a very impassioned speech, the President urged everyone to raise their voice to make change:
“If you’re an American who wants to do something to prevent more families from knowing the immeasurable anguish that these families here have known, then we have to act. Now’s the time to get engaged. Now’s the time to get involved. Now’s the time to push back on fear and frustration and misinformation. Now’s the time for everybody to make their voices heard, from every statehouse to the corridors of Congress.”
This got the crowd stomping their feet to cheer and chant Obama’s name. One could actually feel the ground shake underneath! The passage that I think had the greatest force, however, was the following where the President said:
“If our democracy’s working the way it’s supposed to and 90 percent of the American people agree on something, in the wake of a tragedy, you’d think this would not be a heavy lift. And yet, some folks back in Washington are already floating the idea that they may use political stunts to prevent votes on any of these reforms. Think about that.
The audience remained captivated with the President’s talk from his first word to its last. In Connecticut, since gun violence hit so close to home, you could feel the audience wanting and seeking change to happen. The fact the President took the time to come to CT and show his support for stricter gun control legislation truly helped him win the crowd over. President Obama genuinely seemed to care, making statements like:
“We have to believe that every once in a while we set politics aside, and just do what’s right!”
After the talk, Obama flew back to DC with family members from Sandy Hook. Overall, (especially since I’m a law student), it was amazing to see the President speak on an issue that we really must address in today’s world. Hoping positive change happens soon!