Calling on Congress to Fix Gun Checks -- as a Brother of a Virginia Tech Victim

A horrible, familiar feeling crept over me as I saw the breaking news about a mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona on January 8, 2011.

When it became clear that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was among the wounded, the coverage went into overdrive. Over several agonizing hours, we learned that six people were killed and thirteen more were injured by a deeply troubled young man who should never have had a gun. It was another one of those days in America when everyone has their eyes locked on a television, wondering the same thing: how could this have happened again?

The simple answer is that this happens again and again because Washington refuses to do anything about loopholes in the law that put guns in the hands of killers.

We all watched as Tucson joined the list of well-known tragedies: Columbine... Fort Hood... Virginia Tech...

For me and my family, the sharp pain of Virginia Tech came back in an instant. My sister Reema was killed on April 16, 2007 along with 31 other people because a gap in Virginia's gun background check system allowed a young man with serious mental illness to buy guns.

For years, I have worked with other Virginia Tech families to call for action to fix these gaps in the law. But after Tucson, when the consequences of inaction in Washington were once again made so clear, I knew it was time to make an even bigger statement.

I decided to join Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Fix Gun Checks campaign. Please take a minute to watch this video of our cross-country tour:

We drove coast-to-coast, meeting with other families who have lost loved ones to gun violence. We brought along a billboard truck that called attention to a hard, bitter truth: 34 Americans are murdered with guns every single day.

To many people we met, that was a surprising and sobering fact: each and every day, more Americans are murdered with guns than were killed at Virginia Tech. That daily death toll adds up to more than 10,000 Americans killed just since Tucson.

Along the way, I met many Americans, from all walks of life, affected by gun violence: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles. There is no one that is immune to gun violence.

I met a family from Pennsylvania whose 18 month old son was murdered in his car seat, while they filled up the tank, at a gas station.

In Chicago, I met a mother whose honor student never made it home from school because he shielded a friend from a bullet on a city bus.

I met a University of Iowa administrator who was present during the shootings there 20 years ago. As she shared her experience with me, it was like it just happened the day before.

Their stories are heartbreaking - but their courage is overwhelming. They are part of a huge and growing chorus of Americans calling for action.

During the tour, we gathered petition signatures from more than 350,000 Americans urging Congress to close the loopholes that allow dangerous people to get their hands on guns.

Now, we're preparing to deliver this campaign's message to Washington - and I'm asking you to join us.

Have a look at the video we made. Share it with your family and friends. Ask them to visit and join you in signing the petition calling on Washington to finally close the huge gaps in our gun laws.

We can save lives by coming together to tell Congress it's finally time to fix our broken gun background check system.