While the Newtown, Conn. school shooting has been the focus of many during the past few months, last night at the State of the Union address, two Virginia lawmakers honored the victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.
Peter Read of Annandale, Va. lost his daughter Mary in the Virginia Tech shooting that killed 33 people, including the shooter. Read was honored to be the guest of Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) at the State of the Union.
"It's hugely meaningful to me and obviously for my daughter Mary and for the other Hokie families," he said.
More than 20 lawmakers invited victims of gun violence or their family members to attend the president's annual address. Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott (D) gave his extra ticket to Lori Haas of Richmond, whose daughter Emily was shot twice but survived the Virginia Tech massacre. Haas says it was important for so many people affected by gun violence to be present in the House chamber as the president called for new gun-control measures.
"It is incumbent upon all of us to raise our voices and to speak to this issue and to call on Congress to act," Haas said. "The President has put forth a big package, a nice set of proposals and that combined if we pass all those proposals, come into legislation and become law, we will save lives and that's our job."
The details don't matter as much to Read as getting action on gun control reform, he said.
"The art of the politically possible is for the politicians to figure out, but I will work with anybody who will work with me to get the right things done," he said.
Before the address, the guests were taken to a private event at the White House and many have been lobbying lawmakers for action on gun violence while at the Capitol.