WASHINGTON – A temporary memorial dedicated to gun violence victims across the United States was unveiled at the National Mall in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
Rows of white and orange flowers representing the number of victims of gun violence in the United States each year were placed on the lawn near the Washington Monument.
“Now is the time to come together,” former US Congresswoman Gabby Giffords from Arizona said. “Be responsible: Democrats, Republicans — everyone.”
Giffords, a survivor of gun violence, was joined by a group of incumbent US lawmakers and gun safety activists, as the nation is still reeling from an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two teachers dead last month.
“What we are calling for is gun safety. When we called for airline safety, when we called for motor vehicle safety … everyone came on board,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“Why can’t we have safety when it comes to guns? Why can’t people’s lives be more important?” Weingarten asked.
Senators from both sides of the aisle have engaged in gun legislation talks but it’s unclear if their negotiations will bear fruit given the political and ideological divides on Capitol Hill.
US actor Matthew McConaughey made an emotional plea at the White House briefing room on Tuesday for “real change” on gun violence.
“People in power have failed to act,” McConaughey said. “Let’s admit it: We can’t truly be leaders if we’re only living for re-election.”
“So we’re asking you and I’m asking you, will you please ask yourselves: Can both sides rise above? Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?” the Uvalde native continued.
Gun violence is “a uniquely American problem” and “happens on a daily basis” in some US cities, according to Joseph Sakran, a prominent trauma surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
The United States has suffered 247 mass shootings over the past five months or so, with more than 18,800 lives lost to gun violence, according to the latest data from Gun Violence Archive.