Clinton Uses Florida Platform To Talk To Mothers Who've Lost Children To Gun Violence

May 22, 2016
Originally published on May 26, 2016 1:23 pm
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

To politics now - Hillary Clinton is using her time on the campaign trail to draw a sharp contrast between herself and Donald Trump, especially on the issue of gun control. Last night in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., she spoke at a conference for moms who have lost children to gun violence. For the women at the event, this issue goes well beyond election-year politics. NPR's Sam Sanders was there. And he's not this story.

SAM SANDERS, BYLINE: It's call the Circle of Mothers Conference, a three-day retreat for women who have lost children to gun violence.

QUEEN BROWN: My name is Queen Esther Brown. And I am a mother of a murdered son.

SANDERS: Brown and dozens of other mothers attended seminars and an aerobics class and even two hours of what organizers called glam time.

BROWN: We do a lot of hugging. We do a lot of crying. We do a lot of back rubbing. We connect with ourselves.

SANDERS: Brown lost her son, Eviton Elijah Brown, nine years ago. He had taken some time off from college to work and make enough money to buy his pregnant girlfriend a wedding ring.

QUEEN BROWN: So he got a job driving trucks. And he started his job. And he worked for two weeks when he got killed. He never got his first paycheck.

SANDERS: Brown was shot while riding in his cousin's car in Miami, Fla., by someone he didn't even know.

BROWN: I know what the fatal bullet was. It was a bullet to his back. And it pierced his lung.

SANDERS: Brown says the shooter didn't obtain that gun legally. Saturday night, Hillary Clinton spoke before Brown and other mothers who had come from across the country.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HILLARY CLINTON: I come here tonight as a mother and a grandmother. I love my daughter and my granddaughter more than anything. And I worry about them like every mother does. I want them always to be safe.

SANDERS: Clinton has said she's in favor of stricter background checks and holding gun dealers and manufacturers liable for crimes committed with their weapons. Some liberals say she doesn't go far enough. But Clinton favors much more gun control than Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CLINTON: Donald Trump said that in his very first hour as president, heaven forbid...

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: ...He would overturn President Obama's actions to strengthen background checks. He said that, also, on his first day in office, he'd mandate that every school in America allow guns in classrooms.

SANDERS: Trump received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association this past week. Speaking in front of that group, he said the Second Amendment is under attack and on the ballot in November. Contrast that with Clinton who went after the NRA Saturday night.

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CLINTON: Unlike Donald Trump, I will not pander to the gun lobby.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And we will not be silenced. And we will not be intimidated.

SANDERS: Clinton's speech was well-received in the room. But that's to be expected. She does well with women voters. On stage last night, Queen Brown said Clinton was the first presidential candidate to meet with mothers like her who'd lost children to guns.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BROWN: We must support those that support us. We must support the people in this room that support you and your issues.

SANDERS: Given other big issues like terrorism and immigration, it's not yet clear just how much gun control will resonate with voters this November. But mothers like Queen Brown are hoping it does. Sam Sanders, NPR News, Fort Lauderdale. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.