Newtown families meet with Obama, six months after shooting

Friday marks six months since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and the families of the Newtown victims are back in Washington, D.C., reviving a push for Congress to take up gun control.

Thursday, President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with the families at the White House.

"We commend the families' courage and perseverance in continuing to press for commonsense legislation to reduce gun violence," White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

"And we want them to know that, as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them."

After lobbying members of Congress at their Washington offices on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Newtown families on Thursday held an event at the Capitol to remind lawmakers and the nation of the tragic Dec. 14 shooting -- and all the gun violence that has occurred since.

They read the names of the names of the 4,800 people who have been killed by gunfire since Newtown, as well as held a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other members of Congress. Following that, the families formed a human "ribbon of remembrance," observed a moment of silence, and then continued reading the names of gun violence victims.

"It's been the longest six months in my entire life but also the shortest," Nicole Hockey, whose six-year-old son Dylan Hockley was killed at Sandy Hook, said at a press conference Wednesday. "Getting to this six month mark, it also just -- we are committed, completely committed, to seeing this through... And the more time that goes by, in some respects, the stronger we're getting."

The push for legislation to reduce gun violence all but died on April 17, when the Senate rejected a proposal -- drafted by a Democrat and Republican who both had "A" ratings from the National Rifle Association -- to expand background checks for gun purchases. That, however, hasn't left Reid or the Newtown families any less motivated.

"The fight is not over, it's just beginning," Reid said, invoking his own father's suicide during his remarks.

"The writing is on the wall," he added. "Background checks will pass the United States Senate. The only question is when."

"I feel every single morning when I wake up just as disgusted as I did" on April 17, Erica Lafferty told reporters Wednesday. Lafferty's mother Dawn Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook and was killed in the shooting.

"For the past six months, I've been living without my best friend, without my mom," she said. "That's happening to 33 additional families every single day, and it will continue to happen until Congress decides to make a change."

Standing with some of the families in the halls of Congress Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., one of the authors of the background check bill, said the issue is "still on a front burner."

The fact that the background check couldn't pass, even though it enjoyed bipartisan support in Congress and widespread support from the public, "shows the toxic atmosphere that we live in, day in and day out, here in Washington, that politics trumps everything," Manchin said.

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