“My name is Mark Barden. Just four months ago my wife Jackie and I lost our son, and our children James and Natalie lost their younger brother Daniel, a first grader at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our sweet seven year old Daniel was one of 20 children and six adults lost on December 14th. I have to say, today it feels like it just happened yesterday.
“In our deepest grief, we were supported by the love of our families and comforted by the love and prayers we received from millions of Americans from every corner of the country.
“What happened in Newtown can happen anywhere. In an instant, any dad in America could be in my shoes. No one should have to feel our pain or the pain felt by the tens of thousands every year who lose loved ones to senseless gun violence.
“That’s why we’re here. Two weeks ago, twelve of us from Newtown came to meet with U.S. Senators and have a conversation about how to bring common sense solutions to the issue of gun violence. We came with a sense of hope, optimistic that a real conversation could begin that would ultimately save the lives of so many Americans.
“We met with dozens of Democrats and Republicans, and shared with them pictures of our children, spouses and parents, who lost their lives on December 14th. Expanded background checks wouldn’t have saved our loved ones but still we came to support a bi-partisan proposal from two Senators with A ratings from the NRA – a common sense proposal supported by 90% of Americans. It is a proposal that will save lives without interfering with the rights of responsible, law abiding gun owners.
“We return home for now, disappointed but not defeated. We return home with a determination that change will happen, maybe not today but soon.
“We will keep moving forward. We take strength from the children and loved ones that we lost, and we carry a great faith in the American people.
“On behalf of Sandy Hook Promise, I would like to thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership and for standing strong and continuing to fight for a safer America.
“I would like to thank Senators Toomey, Manchin, Schumer and Kirk for coming together to seek common ground on life-saving legislation. And I would like to thank Connecticut’s Senators Blumenthal and Murphy, who have stood with us from the first hours after the tragedy.
“We leave Washington hoping that others, both here and across the country, will join us in making the “Sandy Hook Promise”. A pledge that we had great hope more U.S. Senators would take literally.
“Let me close by repeating the words with which the Sandy Hook Promise begins:
“Our hearts are broken; Our spirit is not.”
We are NOT defeated.
We are here and we will ALWAYS be here because we have no other choice.
We are not going away, and every day as more people are killed in this country because of gun violence, our determination grows.
Now is still the time.
“Thank you. It is my pleasure to introduce the President of the United States.”