Reporting Rich Lamb
NEW YORK (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) – City Hall was the setting on Monday for emotional testimony from more than 30 victims of gun violence. They joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg in calling for stricter gun control laws.
“On November 16, 2009, I was coming home from school and I was shot on the left side of my head,” Vada Vasquez said.
It was a dramatic way for Mayor Bloomberg to make his point. Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns – most of which are purchased illegally – so the mayor produced 34 gun violence victims to demand that Congress require background checks before anyone can buy a gun, reports CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer.
“These are the shoes he was wearing on April 20, 1999,” Tom Mauser, who lost his son in the Columbine high school massacre, said.
Others lost loved ones during the Virginia Tech massacre, the Long Island Rail Road massacre, and other random gun attacks.
“Every gun sale should go through a background check,” Bloomberg said.
The mayor said background checks would have prevented Tucson shooter Jared Loughner from obtaining a gun.
“I think that it’s really important to have this law, because it will make it easier for people to stay alive, instead of innocent people getting killed,” Vasquez said.
Vasquez (pictured-left) was one of the lucky ones. She survived a gunshot to the head in a random Bronx shooting, and she had some advice for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, now recovering from the Tucson tragedy.
“You can’t just give up,” she said. “You have to keep on, because it’s going to take a while to get better.”
Gun advocates say the mayor’s measure only makes it difficult for the good guys to get guns.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s measure should be described as a measure of friendship for criminals,” Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said.
“Mayor Bloomberg’s proposal does nothing to stop the black market in guns,” National Rifle Association spokeswoman Rachel Parsons said. “If somebody wants to commit a crime, that’s where they are going to get their weapons.”
The mayor was asked if he would lead a march on Washington to push for his gun agenda, but he rejected that idea. He said he believes that the faces of the people who have lost loved ones provide a far more effective lobbying tool.
After the press conference, the mayor announced support for his plan from a number of Arizona politicians, including Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva.