Gun violence victims from Miami and other cities rallied outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and demanded that Congress act on pending legislation to limit firearms sales in the wake of the Orlando massacre last month.
Wearing orange T-shirts to commemorate the 49 people murdered in Orlando and others shot to death, the activists heard rousing remarks from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. John Lewis trying to continue the momentum for gun controls sparked by an unusual overnight sit-in the civil rights icon led on the House floor two weeks ago.
â€œThe American public deserves so much more from our nationâ€™s leaders than constant arguing,â€ Antwan Reeves, a Miami-Dade Schools employee who survived an automatic-rifle attack on him and his cousin in Miami Gardens last November, told reporters and spectators at the rally.
Saying â€œitâ€™s a miracle that Iâ€™m here today,â€ Reeves told a riveting story of how he and his cousin, St. Louis Rams receiver Stedman Bailey, were sprayed with gunfire Nov. 24 while they sat in a car at Northwest 199th Street and 38th Place. Another vehicle pulled up alongside them, and an occupant opened fire as Reeves shielded two of his children in the backseat of their car.
Reeves took 11 bullets while Bailey was shot twice in the head, but both men survived after Reeves somehow drove to Aventura Hospital and Medical Center and each underwent emergency surgery.
â€œThe weapons used during that night of madness left behind 40 shell casings,â€ Reeves said at Wednesdayâ€™s demonstration. â€œThese types of weapons should not be in possession of ordinary citizens.â€
Rep. Frederica Wilson, Reevesâ€™ representative in the House, also attended the protest.
â€œWeâ€™re going to need the American public and pressure from the people of this nation to help us in this battle,â€ Wilson told reporters after the rally.
She added: â€œI am tired of burying little black boys (in my community), and I even have a foundation set aside to pay for their funerals. So weâ€™re going to fight. Iâ€™ve been in this battle for a long time, and I do not intend to give up now.â€
Since the June 12 tragedy in Orlando, Republicans who control the Senate and the House have blocked mainly Democratic efforts to pass â€œNo Fly, No Buyâ€ legislation that would make it more difficult for people on FBI terror watch lists to purchase guns.
Reps. Carlos Curbelo of Miami-Dade and David Jolly of Indian Shores, Fla., are among a small number of Republicans who have broken with their party and pushed for those limited controls.