- George Colli Cox Media Group Washington News Bureau
A Pulse nightclub shooting survivor is the latest in a long line of people impacted by gun violence to lobby lawmakers on Capitol Hill to change the nation’s gun laws.
Angel Colon was shot six times when a gunman opened fire in the crowded Orlando gay club, killing 49 and injuring dozens more. He took his first steps only last month, but said preventing other families from going through what he went through led him to Washington, D.C.
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“It’s very important for me because having a voice, joining other people that have the same ideas, helps prevent the things that are going on in the world right now,” Colon said. “One of the main things is gun violence and I think we can save lives.”
Colon joined advocates with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence as well as Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania. They called on Congress to pass legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists and domestic abusers. Colon said he also supports expanding background checks.
Casey is introducing a bill that would stop anyone convicted of a misdemeanor hate crime involving violence from purchasing a gun.
“Why would we wait for someone’s hate to develop and manifest itself,” Casey said. “If someone is engaging in hateful conduct and it involves use of force, we should make sure we take action earlier.”
Gun advocates have opposed gun reform legislation saying it violates Second Amendment rights.
Republicans have opposed bills preventing guns from being sold to those on the terror watch list until it can be assured innocent people aren't on the list.
Democrats and Republicans have blocked any bills sponsored by the opposing party in recent months.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently sponsored a bill that would alert the government if anyone on the terrorist watch list over the last ten years tries to purchase a gun. He believes it has enough support to pass if it comes up for a vote.
“This is just part of it,” Rubio said. “It won’t solve every problem but I certainly think it’s better than what we have today.”
Democrats say the Rubio bill doesn’t go far enough to stop guns from getting into the wrong hands.
Survivors and their family members from past mass shooting incidents, including Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech and San Bernardino, have made similar pleas to lawmakers leading up to gun votes. They’ve been unsuccessful, but Colon believes his story can make a difference.
“I think my voice is going to be heard,” Colon said, with his mother by his side. “It’s something that I would never wish upon anyone in this world.”
Congress is not expected to vote on any gun legislation before Election Day.