WASHINGTON — Twenty-six cyclists arrived on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Tuesday following a marathon ride from Newtown, Conn.
The group says it rode to honor the 26 children and adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. It also delivered a message to Congress — pass stronger gun violence prevention laws.
“Since Newtown we have watched as Congress has done nothing while there have been 44 school shootings,” says Monte Frank, a Newtown dad and ride organizer whose daughter attended Sandy Hook.
Congress hasn’t passed any gun control measures since President Barack Obama promised to make the issue a top priority of his second term. The president did sign several executive orders aimed at making schools safer and increasing transparency of gun purchases.
Opponents of more gun control measures argue that new laws would not have prevented the December 2012 shootings in Newtown. But Frank contends there are steps Congress could take that would have an impact on reducing gun violence.
“I think the background checks and the trafficking bill would be the most helpful,” Frank says.
Among the measures that have failed to advance in Congress are bills that would expand background checks prior to gun purchases. Another bill that has stalled is the Gun Trafficking Prevention Act which would make it illegal to transfer a firearm across state lines if the person sending the weapon knows the recipient is prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.
Gun control legislation is given little chance of passage in 2014 with mid-term elections scheduled in November. But that hasn’t deterred the riders from Newtown.
“Put politics aside and get it done to protect our children and allow their dreams to be pursued,” Frank says.