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Voices of Newtown: How gun violence victims became effective lobbyists (+video)

The testimony of Newtown parents and others who have lost loved ones to gun violence has become a potent political force on Capitol Hill as lawmakers debate stronger gun safety measures.

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When it comes to gun safety – especially in the wake of a string of horrific multiple shooting deaths – “Nobody has a more important and powerful perspective on the issue than the families who have lost loved ones.”

That statement, by White House press secretary Jay Carney Friday, can be viewed cynically – as if gun control advocates, including President Obama, had "exploited the tragedy for political gain,” as National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre put it a week after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., December 14, 2012, which killed 20 first-graders and six adult educators in a hail of semi-automatic weapon fire.

But that perspective, conveyed by those who have lost loved ones or been the victims of gun violence themselves (such as former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords), in fact is the most emotionally powerful and politically effective way to convey the message.

We saw a lot of that this past week, and we can expect to see a lot more this coming week as the US Senate and House of Representatives take up gun control measures.

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