The issue of gun control took centre stage during the third night of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday (27 July), with speeches by the mother of Orlando nightclub shooting victim, Christopher Leinonen and former congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords.
Christine Leinonen and Giffords spoke of how their lives were forever changed by gun violence. Accompanied by two of her son's friends, Leinonen said her son spent his life bringing people together before he was brutally killed in Pulse nightclub alongside his boyfriend and 47 others.
"All his life he brought people together," she said. "It was in his DNA that love always trumps hate." She continued: "Christopher was a big Hillary supporter. That's why I'm here. So that I can tell you about the day he was born. At the time, I was a Michigan state trooper. When I went into labour, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn't argue. I know common sense gun policies save lives."
Leinonen noted that the weapon that killed her son and others at the club "fires 30 rounds in one minute," according to BuzzFeed News.
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 is why I support Hillary Clinton."
Former congresswoman Giffords echoed those sentiments when she appeared alongside her husband, retired Nasa astronaut Mark Kelly. "In Congress, I learned a powerful lesson: Strong women get things done! Hillary is tough. Hillary is courageous. She will fight to make our families safer. In the White House, she will stand up to the gun lobby. That's why I'm voting for Hillary!" she proclaimed, according to amNewYork.
Her husband, meanwhile, discussed his years in the military and with Nasa. "My decades as a pilot, military officer, and astronaut gave me a unique perspective," Kelly said. "From above, I saw our country at its best. I also saw humanity at its worst. I saw us lead an international coalition against the illegal invasion of Kuwait. I also saw the devastating human effects of war itself."
Kelly claimed Clinton "is ready to take on one of our country's greatest moral failures here on our soil: The gun violence that is tearing so many of our communities apart."
Giffords, who was shot in the head in early 2011 during a public meeting in Tucson, Arizona, also spoke of the challenges she faces in the aftermath of the shooting. "Speaking is difficult for me. But come January, I want to say these two words: 'Madam President.'"