Jaxon O'Mara's friend was murdered in a shooting at her school, and she's calling on Congress to do something about it.
A teenager who lost her friend to gun violence called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop blocking legislation passed in the House that would reform gun laws.
Jaxon O'Mara, 18, spoke at an event organized by House Democrats on Tuesday, along with other Americans affected by gun violence.
O'Mara recently graduated from Great Mills High School in Maryland, where Jaelynn Willey, 16, was murdered by a student who opened fire in the school's hallway in 2018. O'Mara is now the the state director for March for Our Lives of Maryland, the organization created by survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland last year.
"I'm here today to represent the young people all across America who've had their lives ripped apart by gun violence. I'm here today to represent the young people who want a change," O'Mara said. "I'm here today to tell Senator McConnell that it's time to take immediate action on gun violence."
O'Mara said lawmakers had two options to deal with gun violence in America: "Either the Senate votes on and passes this life-saving legislation immediately, or we vote out those who stand in our way."
The Democratic-controlled House has passed two gun violence prevention bills this year, including H.R. 8, which would mandate more extensive background checks for gun purchases.
The bill received bipartisan support, and its provisions are backed by over 70% of the public (including Republicans). Police chiefs and hundreds of mayors have called for its passage, but McConnell has refused to allow the Senate to vote on it.
In the wake of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton earlier this month, McConnell has paid lip service to the idea of passing legislation to address gun violence, but he also called advocacy for gun reform merely "theatrics" and has refused to call senators back from their August recess to address the issue. He has given no indication that he will hold a vote on the bills that have already passed the House.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.