Reporting Larry Richert
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PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Family members of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims have gone to Washington, D.C., to lobby for gun control. One of those is Jillian Soto, sister of Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher who was killed during the shooting rampage.
Jillian has been lobbying Congress on gun reform, and even was able to fly to Washington on Air Force One with President Obama. The message she and other Newtown, Conn. families are trying to convey to congressmen is simple.
“To tell our story, and tell them what we are going through, and what all the Sandy Hook families are going through,” Soto said. “Hopefully, they will do something and stand with us. We do deserve a vote, and we do deserve to have something done to save the ones we love.”
Jillian Soto talked with KDKA-AM’s Larry and John about her stand to end gun violence and pass gun control laws like background checks for anyone buying a gun. She was joined by Chief Jim Johnson from Baltimore County, Maryland, who serves as the Chair of the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence. As a first responder, he’s seen the devastation of unnecessary gun violence.
“Law enforcement across the nation has asked for three things,” Chief Johnson said. “Reinstitute the ban on assault weapons, limit those magazines to more than ten, and certainly a universal background check that applies to all gun purchases.”
Chief Johnson said that nearly 40 percent of all guns are bought outside of a licensed federal dealer, which adds to those wanting guns for illegitimate reasons. He also said that the studies he’s looked at show that nearly 90 percent of the nation wants a universal background check, and 80-90 percent want assault weapon and magazine limits imposed.
“You see these tragedies unfold with these very technically advanced weapons with higher capacity magazines,” Chief Johnson said. “More shots fired means more injuries, more deaths, and we can stop these as Americans.”
“We can do something about changing the future,” Soto said. “I’ve seen what an assault rifle can do, I’ve seen the damage it can cause to a person that was shot that way. No one needs a weapon like that.”
In fact, Soto wants not only a ban on assault rifles, but a recall of the ones already in circulation.
“They are a weapon of destruction,” Soto said. “They are there to kill people and cause serious harm. They do not need to be in anyone’s hands.”
Soto and other Newtown families hope to influence congressmen and senators as the national debate on new gun control laws continues.