Hillary Clinton closed her New York victory speech on Tuesday night with a spirited tribute to the activism of Erica Smegielski, the daughter of slain Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung.
"There is a remarkable young woman here tonight. Her name is Erica, Erica Smegielski," Clinton said. "She lives the truth of what I have been saying every day."
Clinton paused, then revealed why Smegielski’s activism was especially moving.
"Erica’s mother, Dawn, was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School," Clinton said, drawing some audible gasps from the crowd. "And she died trying to protect her children, her students."
Hochsprung was one of 26 people killed in the December 2012 shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, school.
Clinton praised Smegielski for translating the grief over the death of her mother into action.
"She’d never been in politics before. But she has made it her mission to advocate for common-sense gun safety reform," Clinton continued, prompting loud, sustained cheers. "You know, like the mothers of Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin and so many others, Erica has turned her sorrow into a strategy and her mourning into a movement."
"It isn’t easy, but as Erica said the other day, 'What if everyone who faced tough odds said, It’s hard, so I’m going to walk away? That’s not the type of world I want to live in,'” Clinton concluded. "Erica, it’s not the type of world we want to live in. And we refuse to live in that."
It was fitting that Clinton chose to make her peroration about gun safety, since it is one issue where she has justly campaigned as the more progressive of the two Democratic candidates. Clinton, with the support of people who have lost family members to mass shootings, has been particularly persistent in her criticism of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' vote in favor of a law that protects gun makers and sellers from some civil liability.