Transcript: Emily Nottingham, mother of Gabe Zimmerman, testifies on gun violence

Emily Nottingham, mother of Gabe Zimmerman who was killed in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting. SOURCE: C-Span.org

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of testimony by Emily Nottingham, mother of Gabe Zimmerman who was killed in the 2011 Tucson mass shooting, before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee on Jan. 16, 2013: 

Thank you for having me. It’s fitting that we are holding this meeting near the Gabe Zimmerman Room. Gabe was my son and a congressional staffer who worked with your colleague, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

On Jan. 8, 2011, a man armed with high capacity magazines and a semi-automatic weapon he purchased at a big box store shot the Congresswoman then turned on the people in line to see her.

He murdered six, including my son, and injured 13 people, including Congressman Ron Barber, with 31 bullets before he tried to re-load his magazine. Only then did citizen heroes have the opportunity to tackle him to the ground and disarm him.

On that sunny day outside a suburban grocery store, those people – including a nine-year-old girl not much older than the children killed in Newtown – were exercising their rights: the right to freedom of assembly, the right to freedom of speech. They were trying to be good citizens, participating in a democratic process.

I’m sad beyond words at the deaths and injuries in Tucson, Aurora, Newtown and too many other places.

But I’m also angry that we – you and I – have made it so easy for these things to happen.

We’ve allowed ourselves to over-emphasize gun rights to the detriment of other rights, including the most important – the right to be alive.

We’ve allowed our families to lose the feeling of safety at school, at their place of worship, at the movies.

And Gabe, who had the palpable passion for social justice, would be furious.

Please, do not be swayed by the line that “the only way to combat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” In fact, there was a good guy with a gun in the Tucson shooting but he almost mistakenly shot the citizen hero that tackled the shooter.

I don’t want to carry around an assault rifle to go to the grocery store to buy broccoli or take a grandchild to soccer practice.

I’m here to encourage you to tackle the serious public health issue with resolve, with facts, and with a complexity of approach that it requires.

I fully understand that we can’t stop every shooting. But if we can take action and save some of our loved ones, shouldn’t we do everything we can?

We’ve known some of the solutions for decades but have failed to act.

We need better access to and funding of our mental health systems.

We need universal background checks and to take assault weapons and high-capacity magazines off our streets.

We need to allow the CDC to fully research gun violence.

I’m also here because I think it helps to bolster your resolve when you can think about the victims as real people not just statistics.

Gabe was a guy like many of your staffers. Young, idealistic, worked long hours on horrible take out food and adrenaline.

He had plans that morning after the Congress in Your Corner: picking a wedding location, helping his mom – that’s me – hook up her TV, figuring out a birthday present for his fiance.

Instead, he was shot in the head as he ran to help his boss by a man wielding weaponry designed solely to kill many people very quickly.

Have you ever had that nightmare where you knew where you were supposed to be but couldn’t get there? That was my Jan. 8th.

As I searched hospitals to find my son, who hadn’t answered his cell phone and who I thought might be wounded, it took hours to find out that he had died before he hit the ground and his body still laid on the sidewalk where he fell.

When you’re disheartened by the number of steps that have to be taken, by the fears of gun advocates, by the politics, please dig deep and find new heart.

Think for a moment about your young staffers, your children or grandchildren. Now imagine that that cell phone in your pocket is vibrating and the message says they’ve been murdered by a stranger with an assault weapon. Imagine that. Then shore up your resolve and keep working to protect your staffers, our children, our nation.

We need you to not give up. Thank you.

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2 Comments on “Transcript: Emily Nottingham, mother of Gabe Zimmerman, testifies on gun violence

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