Six weeks after a gunman opened fire on gay club Pulse Orlando on a night when the crowd was filled with Black and Brown bodies, the mother of one of the victims took to the national stage to plead for "common sense gun policy."
Christine Leinonen is the mother of victim Christopher “Dru” Leinonen, one of the last partygoers identified following the shooting. She spoke tonight (July 27) at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, joined by a survivor of the shooting, Brandon Wolf, and her son’s ex-boyfriend, Jose Arriagada.
“It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times,” she said, in reference to the number of times a bell was sounded at a vigil to remember the lives of the people killed on June 12. “The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute,” she continued, tearfully. “An Orlando city commissioner pointed out the terrible math: One minute for a gun to fire so many shots. Five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives.”
A former police officer, she told the story of her son’s birth, sharing how the hospital locked her gun in a safe while she labored. “I didn’t argue. I know that common sense gun policies save lives,” she said. “I’m glad common sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born. But where was that common sense the day he died? I never want you to ask that question about your child. That’s why I support Hillary Clinton.”
Leinonen was just one of many speakers who addressed gun violence. Former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, Connecticut Senator Christopher Murphy—who filibustered for 15 hours to compel a gun policy reform vote—and the daughter of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung also addressed the delegates.