“It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times.”
After this opening line from Christine Leinonen’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, the entire audience fell under a hush. She lost her only son, Christopher and his boyfriend Juan along with the 47 others gunned down in the June 12 Orlando Shooting.
“Christopher was my only child,” Leinonen said. “As I used to tell him, ‘You can’t do better than perfect.'” In high school, her son won an Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for starting a gay-straight alliance. She continued, “Christopher’s paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp so it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate.”
We should point out here that the Japanese internment camps were the ones the U.S. government forcibly relocated Japanese-Americans (like gay Star Trek actor George Takei) after the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor. Also, the phrase “Love Trumps Hate” has become a rallying cry against the homophobic racist running as the Republican presidential candidate — it was used recently in a pro-LGBT rights billboard depicting Donald Trump kissing Ted Cruz.
“I know common sense gun policies save lives,”Leinonen said. “The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute. An Orlando City Commissioner pointed out the terrible math. One minute for a gun to fire so many shots, five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives. I’m glad common sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day that he died?”
The policy she’s probably referring to here is the Federal Assault Weapons Ban which prohibited the sale of semi-automatic assault guns from 1994 to 2004. Notably, the bill would have outlawed the Sig Sauer MCX semi-automatic rifle used in the Orlando Shooting.
Vox.com cited Leinonen’s speech as proof that Democrats are no longer afraid of tackling gun reform, but it should be noted that an assault weapons ban does not exist among Hilary Clinton’s plans to end gun violence: rather, she wants to expand background checks, keep guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill and remove legal protections for illegal and irresponsible gun retailers.