Every year, guns kill 30,000 people. At President Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, those victims will have a seat set aside.
A White House official Friday said that for the address—Obama’s seventh and final opportunity to proclaim that the “state of our union is strong”—the president will leave one seat in first lady Michelle Obama’s guest box empty to honor the gun-violence victims “who no longer have a voice.”
“They need the rest of us to speak for them,” the official said. “To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence—survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”
Obama has been on a public crusade for gun control since the start of the year. In an emotional speech Tuesday, he announced a package of executive actions to curb gun violence, including narrowing the gun-show loophole. Recalling the 20 children gunned down at 2012 elementary-school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, he teared up: “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.”