From Sandy Hook to Orlando, too many communities are forever scarred

My daughter and I began and ended our day on Wednesday with Dylan Hockley, one of the 20 children murdered at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. We joined the Newtown families at the White House for a screening of "Newtown," the new documentary that shows the tragic story from the families' perspective, and includes home video of some of the children — Dylan, Ben Wheeler and Daniel Barden. As we watched the film and cried, we would look over at the parents. No words. Unfortunately, since the Sandy Hook shooting, too many other families have experienced the same pain and too many communities have been forever scarred, including Orlando, Florida, because people who should not have access to firearms can easily get their hands on AR-15s and 30-round magazines or other weapons of mass murder.


We said goodbye to Nicole Hockley and the other Newtown families and scooted over to U.S. Senate to support our senator's filibuster to demand action now so that we can begin to reduce the risk of another Newtown or Orlando. Each day that Congress fails to act, it remains complicit in the carnage that is occurring in our cities on a daily basis and the mass shootings in our schools, movie theaters, college campuses and night clubs. Nowhere is safe anymore.

With Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) at his side, Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocrats ramp up pressure for infrastructure deal amid time crunch Democrats brace for slog on Biden's spending plan Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia MORE (D-Conn.) stood for all of us, refusing to yield to Senate colleagues who are in the pockets of the gun lobby. Murphy stood for the Newtown families we had just left at the White House and all the families of gun violence. But he also stood for all Americans who have just had enough. One by one, other senators paraded in to ask Murphy questions, and he answered them all with passion. Sen. Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinManaging the US dollar to pay for congressional infrastructure plans Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage Senate Democrats call for Medicaid-like plan to cover non-expansion states MORE (D-Wis.) spoke at length about each of the Orlando victims. Sen. Robert CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseySenate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines Biden celebrates anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act Lawmakers introduce bipartisan Free Britney Act MORE (D-Pa.) brought to the floor the page of the newspaper he has kept in his desk since Dec. 14, 2012 which contains photos of the Sandy Hook victims. He showed members of Team 26 that same page when we visited him in his office following the Sandy Hook Ride to Washington.

What Murphy is calling for is simple and will save lives. The majority of Americans, including gun owners, support such laws. Simply put, anyone on the terrorist watch list should not have easy access to military-style weapons. In addition, one should have to show that he or she is not a convicted felon before purchasing a firearm. Closing the gaping hole in the Brady Law that allows anyone to purchase firearms at gun shows or on the internet would do just that.

We left the Senate at around 7:30 pm to head home to Sandy Hook. We listened to the filibuster the whole way. We arrived home at 2:10 am, just as Murphy was ending the filibuster. Standing beside a poster of Dylan Hockley in a Superman T-shirt, Murphy told the story of the slain first-grader and the teacher aide who would not leave his side. "Anne Marie Murphy probably had a chance to hide or to run or to panic," he said. "But instead ... Anne Marie Murphy found Dylan Hockley and embraced him. How do we know that? Because when the police entered the classroom that's how they found Dylan Hockley, dead, wrapped in the embrace of Anne Marie Murphy." With that, Murphy yielded the floor. But not before ensuring votes for the families of Newtown and Orlando and Chicago.

Frank is a founder and leader of Team 26. He resides in Sandy Hook, Conn. Follow him on Twitter @montefrank1.