President’s words touch Evanston gun violence victim’s mother
Carolyn Murray holds a photo of her slain son Justin during President Barack Obama' State of the Union address during a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday Feb. 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:12AM
For Carolyn Murray, the mother of an Evanston gun victim, a seat in the gallery at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech proved more emotional than she expected.
Murray, who was a special guest of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, said there were about 130 family members and loved ones of victims of gun violence spread throughout in the gallery to hear the President’s speech.
Though there is no standing during the President’s speech, family members were told they would be allowed to hold up pictures of their loved ones when the President reached that part of the address.
However, when the president started talking about gun violence and how we were affected, “It was just so much emotion, it just burst,’’ she said Wednesday, recalling the moment.
“I stood up and I just couldn’t sit down and, while I was standing there and as the words poured over the crowd about violence and how we needed assistance in getting gun control, I just started crying. The Secret Service guy came over and said, “Ma’am, you’ve got to sit down. I just held the picture even firmer. I couldn’t sit down.”
Schakowsky announced last week that Murray would be her guest for the State of the Union Address .
With the president declaring that gun-related violence would be a “central issue” for his second term, Schakowsky and other Democratic members of Congress invited people who have been impacted by gun violence to be present at the President’s Address.
In the invitation, Schakowsky cited Murray’s efforts, even after her son’s shooting Nov. 29, to deter gun violence.
Murray’s son Justin, 19, was the victim of a shooting Nov. 29 as he stood on the steps outside his grandmother’s house.
The 43-year-old Murray, active in fighting violence since 2006, carried through on a community gun buy-back program barely two weeks after her son’s shooting. The program took
The program took 45 weapons off the street.
Murray’s daughter, Ashton, accompanied her on the trip to Washington. They had an emotional meeting earlier in the day with First Lady Michelle Obama.
“She took a lot of time with Ashton,” Carolyn Murray said, “just to reassure Ashton how she had to turn the tragedy around and make something good for herself and her life and her plans and her career goals.”
For Murray, a Naval reservist, a highlight for her was “the passion that Congresswoman Schakowsky showed, how she just woke me to part of what she can do and what she has done behind the scenes, and her husband (Bob Creamer), just to push this agenda (and see) strategically how it’s possible to have this happen.”
Schakowsky cited Murray when reacting Tuesday to conservative rock singer Ted Nugent’s assertion that President Obama stacked his speech with “props, children, and victims of violent crime,” in the audience of the State of the Union address.
“Carolyn Murray is not a prop,” Schakowsky asserted in an MSNBC interview. “She is a grieving mother who has turned her pain into power.”
Murray said today she was aware of the “prop” remark.
“We know (critics) have become desensitized and they have made several excuses on why gun violence has plagued our country,’’ she said. “But we know what we’re here for, and they know that there are faces and people affected by it throughout the nation.”