Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Cheshire, whose congressional district includes Newtown, kicked off a Valentine’s Day lobbying campaign to press her House and Senate colleagues to adopt gun-control legislation.
The Valentine’s Day theme was symbolized by home-made cards and teddy bears that volunteers delivered to all 435 House members and 100 senators. The T-shirts on the stuffed bears carried the message: “Protect children, not guns.’’
Esty was joined by Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force that House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., created after the Dec. 14 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown that left 20 children and six school staffers dead.
The lobbying effort on the two-month anniversary of the Newtown tragedy brought 30 volunteers from the Children’s Defense Fund and the One Million Moms for Gun Control to go door-to-door in the halls of Congress.
In remarks as the campaign got under way, Esty challenged opponents of tighter gun laws who claim “the Connecticut effect’’ is a passing phenomenon that explains the surge in public opinion in favor of new laws.
The Newtown shootings were “a call to action for this country,’’ Esty said. The murder of the 20 children will be remembered at “every graduation, every birthday, every December 14th, every Christmas,’’ she said, repeating a refrain that President Obama sounded at his State of the Union speech Tuesday night: The families of the shooting victims deserve a vote in Congress on pending legislation that would ban military-style assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines, and require universal background checks on all gun purchasers.