Newtown activists lobby Congress on guns after DC shooting

September 18, 2013 2:36:46 PM PDT
Almost nine months to the day, Bill Sherlach is still mourning the loss of his wife of 31 years.

Mary Sherlach was the guidance counselor and one of 26 people killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last December.

The events this week in Washington D.C. hit especially close to home.

Sherlach immediately checked in with his daughter, a graduate student at Georgetown. And there's another connection: the son of close friends once worked on the very floor of the building at the Washington Navy Yard where the shooting took place. He was ok, but Sherlach said there were some anxious moments.

With the flags in Newtown at half-staff once again, Washington is the focus for many in this community. Before dawn on Tuesday about 50 members of the Newtown Action Alliance boarded a bus for a two day visit to the nation's capital to push for tougher gun laws.

The trip by the Newtown Action Alliance gun law advocacy group was planned to mark roughly nine months since the Dec. 14 rampage in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 children and six educators were shot to death. It now also quickly follows Monday's killings at the Washington Navy Yard.

Members of the group also included those who lost family members in the July 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in which 12 people were gunned down and 70 wounded.

They also included Amardeep Kaleka, whose father was one of six Sikhs killed at a Wisconsin temple in August 2012.

Kaleka said his goal is to see Congress impose stricter background checks and close loopholes that enable people to buy guns at gun shows without any background checks. It's the same message he has given lawmakers before, but he said it has to be repeated so legislators don't forget there are multiple sides to the issue.

"The NRA is able to lobby them eight hours a day, five days a week, for months on end. We survivors come in periodically, only one or two times a year," he told The Associated Press. "I fear (lawmakers) are in that position where they think they're going to lose votes or money backing them campaign-wise."

Many in Newtown vow to keep fighting for what they call common sense changes.

Some information from The Associated Press