Nicole Hockley had never heard the word “filibuster” before. She had never been on the Capitol Hill, never petitioned a senator.
Her son Dylan died in the Newtown shooting with 19 other first-graders last December. Parents of those children, like Hockley, are leading pro-gun control efforts today.
One of them, Francine Wheeler, took President Barack Obama’s weekly address slot on Saturday to urge the nation to push lawmakers to make the community safer.
“We have to convince the Senate to come together and pass commonsense gun responsibility reforms,” she said. A dozen of Newtown parents reached upon the Capital this week to push the US Senate to discuss gun control reforms.
Some of the more conservative Republican senators had threatened to filibuster -- delaying legislative decision through long speeches sometimes going on for hours -- the decision. The parents sought meetings with these senators.
One Republican senator had tried to pass off the parents to her staff instead, promising to drop by for a while to say hell to them. They said no, and got a meeting instead.
According to media reports, the parents knew exactly how to pitch their case: they simply rendered their heart-breaking stories without getting into the debate. It worked. The Senate voted Thursday to bring a gun-control bill, the details of which are unclear yet. The move to filibuster the vote failed, everyone agrees, because of the parents.
President Obama is indeed encouraging the parents push the country towards sensible gun laws, ferrying them to the capital on Air Force One.
But these parents strongly rebut the charge they are being used. “We are no one’s puppet,” Hockley told a TV host Friday night. “Please help us do something before our tragedy becomes your tragedy,” said Wheeler in her address from the White House, chocking and tearing up frequently.
The road ahead is not easy, they know. The senate has only agreed to bring a bill. It will debate it and may pass one, which will have a tougher passage, if at all, in the lower House.
But the Newtown parents will be watching, and pushing back.