Mom of slain basketball star at NY rally for background check law

WHITE PLAINS, Westchester County (WABC) -- A rally was held outside the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains Thursday to urge the U.S. Senate to pass background check legislation for gun purchases.

Volunteers with Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action hosted the event as part of Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund's "Road Trip for Background Checks."

The groups said Westchester was the next stop on the nationwide tour, all headed towards Washington, D.C., to deliver their message to senators, and it came on the same day President Joe Biden announced a half-dozen executive actions on gun control.

"It is actually a public health crisis," Biden said during remarks at the White House.

His measures were aimed at addressing a proliferation of gun violence across the nation that he called an "epidemic and an international embarrassment." Greeting the families of gun violence victims and activists, he assured them: "We're absolutely determined to make change."

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah hosted the rally, calling gun control something the majority of Americans want.

"93% of Americans and more than 85% of Republicans support legislation to expand background checks," she said. "It's not a partisan issue. It's not a political issue. It's a safety issue."

Among those in attendance was Nadine McKenzie, founder of the Shamoya McKenzie Foundation, after her 13-year-old daughter was killed by gunfire.

RELATED | Principal: Mount Vernon girl killed by stray bullet was 'shining star'

Shamoya McKenzie was on her way home from basketball practice when a bullet meant for a rival gang member struck the teen while she was sitting in her mother's car.

McKenzie was talented and ambitious, and she dreamed of playing professional basketball before coming back to Mount Vernon to start a business.

Her dream school, the University of Connecticut, later presented her family with a jersey with her number on it.

"If they know the feeling I'm going through, they would definitely support the law that we are trying to fight right now about gun law background checks," Nadine McKenzie said. "Because the pain never goes away when losing a child."

"Road Trip for Background Checks" includes nearly 60 stops in 22 states over 10 days, from every corner of the country to the nation's capital.

At stops along seven different routes across the country, a bipartisan group of volunteers, gun violence survivors, gun owners, veterans, faith leaders, and elected leaders will decorate a mural and collect personal stories, photos of people killed by gun violence, and letters to Congress.

The mural and messages will be driven or delivered from stop to stop, state to state, and then assembled in D.C. and delivered in person to senators on Capitol Hill.

RELATED | Community remembers innocent teen killed after basketball practice

Demonstrating what they call broad, bipartisan support for background check legislation, "Road Trip for Background Checks" includes stops in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Utah, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, plus D.C.

Surveys show 93% of Americans, including 89% of Republicans and 89% of gun owners, support legislation to expand background checks.

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