The door to Marietta Congressman Phil Gingrey’s office, just off the town square, creaked open and more than a dozen people shuffled into the reception area. They came Thursday to demand Gingrey back a bipartisan House measure that would require more and tougher background checks of anyone who tries to buy a gun. They did not get as far as they had hoped.
Among them was John Starbuck, whose step-daughter, Meleia, was shot to death in 2005 by a friend named Christopher, near the campus of the University of California/Berkeley.
“Christopher should not have owned the gun” used to kill his daughter, Starbuck said. “He had both a criminal background and a disturbed mental history.”
Lucy McBath was also among the speakers.
Her 17-year old son, Jordan Davis, was killed while sitting in an SUV at a gas station. The shooter claimed the argument started over loud music coming from the boy’s vehicle, and that he fired 10 shots into the SUV in self-defense.
“No one should feel my pain,” she said in a quiet but emphatic voice.
Both McBath and Starbuck hoped to tell their stories of losing loved ones to gun violence to Gingrey personally. But they never got past the Congressman’s receptionist.
“So he’s not going to see us?” Starbuck asked.
“No,” said the receptionist after confirming there were no reporters in the room (WSB News obtained a recording of the brief encounter from a spokeswoman for Mayors Against Gun Violence). “He’s not here.”
Similar petitions were presented Thursday to Roswell Congressman Tom Price and other lawmakers around the country, asking them to support the bill introduced by Reps. Pete King (R-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) last month. The measure would close loopholes in existing background check legislation in an effort to make it harder for convicted criminals, and those with documented mental disturbances, to obtain firearms.
Gingrey, a physician, had earlier supported a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips used in semi-automatic handguns and rifles. But the AJC’s Jim Galloway reported in March that, after deciding to enter the race for retiring Senator Saxby Chambliss’s seat, Gingrey abruptly changed his position, saying he had supported the ban as an emotional response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut. Gingrey’s office would not comment on the petition.