NEWTOWN, Conn. – Mark Barden, who lost his 7-year-old son, Daniel, in the shooting at Sandy Hook School, took center stage Tuesday in introducing Barack Obama as the president announced new executive orders to reduce gun violence.
"President Obama made a promise to not give up," Barden said, as he recalled meeting the president at Newtown High School after his son's death.
Since his son's death — Daniel was one of 20 first-graders and six educators killed on Dec.14, 2012 – Barden has committed himself to the cause of reducing gun violence. To that end, he is the co-founder of the Sandy Hook Promise.
Based in Newtown, the group seeks to honor all victims of gun violence by turning tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children from gun violence.
"In the three years since those 26 precious lives were lost at that school, far too many more lives have been lost to gun tragedies in this country," Barden said in introducing Obama. "Far too many people right now who are hearing these words are grieving the loss of a loved one to gun violence.
"As a nation we have to do better. We are better. We're better than this," he said.
When President Barack Obama went to the podium at the White House, he recalled the first time he met Mark Barden.
"I still remember the first time we met and the time we spent together and the conversation we had about Daniel," Obama said. "And that changed me, that day. And my hope earnestly has been that it would change the country."
Near the end of his speech, Obama was moved to tears as he spoke of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
"Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," the president said as he wiped away tears.
"And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day," Obama added.
The plan unveiled Tuesday by Obama would close loopholes in the background check system, spend millions of dollars to mental health programs and support research for smart gun technology.
Mark Barden also shared his thought on his son in a post at the White House website. Click here to read an "Email from a Newtown Father: 'My Son Daniel.'"
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