Philly moms affected by gun violence thank Pa. reps for ‘sit-in’

Two Democratic Pennsylvania congressmen who recently participated in the “sit-in” for gun control legislation in the House of Representatives were honored Wednesday by local moms who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

U.S. Reps. Bob Brady, chair of the Philadelphia Democratic Party, and Brandon Boyle both participated in a 26-hour sit-in in the House of Representatives to demand a vote on gun control legislation in the wake of the mass shooting in an Orlando gay club that killed 49.

“We have kids, women, unborn kids, that are getting shot in schools, in recreation centers, in churches, on the street. How long are we going to keep doing this?” Brady asked. “What do, give them a moment of silence? That’s BS. We got to give them more than a moment of silence.”

Representatives of CeaseFire PA, a gun control advocacy group, presented Brady and Boyle with special pillows to sit on if they have to go another sit-in anytime soon.

Many family members of victims of gun violence were at the rally in support of their congressmen.

Lisa Espinosa’s 26-year-old son, Raymond Pantoja, was shot to deathin Kensington on April 10 after a scuffle in a club. The murder is unsolved.

“We do need to change these guns laws,” Espinosa said. “Forty-seven percent of homicides are unsolved.That’s not right.”

Darnetta Green Mason, of West Philly, lost her son Dwayne Erik Green nine years ago.

“With every breath that I breathe from now until there’s no more, I will fight for my son and all of the other sons and daughters who have been taken from their families,” Mason said.

The murder of her son was never officially solved, but the person suspected of killing her son was himself murdered a month ago, she said.

“Whatever the circumstances, another mother is without her son,” she said.

Cherie Ryans described the 1990 murder of her son Terence, who was killed by agroup of men armed with TEC-9s after someone getting a ride from Terence.

“You have a right to buy your gun,” Ryans said. “It becomes against my rights when somebody takes that gun that you purchased legally, sells it illegally, it gets on the street and kills my son and other sons.”

Shira Goodman, executive director of Cease Fire PA, dismissed criticisms from Republicans and conservatives that the House Democrats’ sit-in was a publicity stunt.

“I think it had a huge effect,” Goodman said, citing an increase volume of calls and letters to elected officials lobbying for stiffer gun legislation. “They sat for 26 hours with C-SPAN turned off. … They needed to do something to put this in front of people. It was heartfelt.”

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