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Moran Invites Gun Violence Prevention Advocate Omar Samaha, Westfield Grad, to State of the Union

Omar Joseph Samaha works on gun safety issues, after his sister Reema was killed in Virginia Tech tragedy.

When President Obama gives his State of the Union address Tuesday, in the audience that night will be Northern Virginian Omar Joseph Samaha, a gun violence prevention advocate and guest of Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th).

Omar’s sister, Reema, was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting. Since her death, Omar has advocated for policies to reduce gun violence.

Moran is a member of the House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and recently introduced the “NRA Members’ Gun Safety Act,” (H.R. 21) that would implement five gun safety reforms that he notes polling shows are supported by at least 63 percent of NRA members. The reforms include universal background checks for gun purchases and gun shop employees, reporting lost or stolen firearms, and prohibiting individuals on the terrorist watch list to purchase weapons.

“Omar and his family suffered a tragic loss at the hands of a mentally ill individual with access to firearms,” said Moran in a recent news release. “I am impressed with his dedication to making our country safer and pleased Omar will be joining me at the State of the Union.”

Born in Fairfax, Omar graduated in 2006 from Virginia Tech. He is a 2002 graduate of Westfield High School and currently lives in Arlington. 

His youngest sister Reema also attended Westfield and college at Virginia Tech and was killed in the mass shooting on the campus. In late 2007, Omar co-founded Students for Gun-Free Schools, which opposes efforts to force colleges and universities to allow students and faculty to carry concealed handguns on their campuses.

Omar also helped expose the "Gun Show Loophole" on ABC’s 20/20 by filming undercover at a Virginia gun show in April 2009. Following a national tour with Mayors Against Illegal Guns in 2011, Omar served as a legislative assistant and grassroots coordinator with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and continues to work with them today as a volunteer advocate.

“Since Omar lost his sister in 2007, our nation has experienced over 20 mass shootings with five or more fatalities," Moran said. "Following the Newtown shooting, President Obama took decisive action and demonstrated determined leadership by putting forward a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Now, Congress must act on this proposal.”

In 2011, Omar traveled to 56 cities around the country with Mayors Against Illegal Guns representing the "Fix Gun Checks Tour." After meeting with survivors of gun violence, mayors, law enforcement officials, faith leaders and gun owners, the tour ended on Capitol Hill, where Omar and 60 other gun violence survivors called on Congress to fix the national background check system for gun purchases, and apply those checks to all gun sales.

Michael Campbell February 12, 2013 at 06:50 PM
I would have to disagree on the tyrannical government statement. Even if say the current president does not desire to do so, what is to prevent a future president to "take-over" especially if our right to bear arms are infringed to the point of non-existence. Are due process and the right not to be subjected to unreasonable searches limited as well? Where do you think we should draw the line? these Rights are being curtailed right now by this administration.
Wildermann February 14, 2013 at 05:01 PM
There was once a government tyranny of post Civil War anti civil rights called Jim Crow imposed by State legislatures throughout the South and in VA that used armed state and local government police agencies to enforce those laws or unofficial armed terrorist, vigilantes such as the KKK as enforcers. They had the guns, not the citizens that were subjected to blatant government discrimination and terrorist acts such as lynchings. Ironic that the unarmed citizens of civil rights advocates and heroes during the 50's and 60's prevailed over the armed enforcers. A revolution without firearms that changed the course of tyrants and tyrannical laws. The notion that one needs personal firearms to protect oneself from tyrants is thus archaic and without merit. I own firearms and I am a life long hunter. I have no problem with firearm registration and more regulatory measures aimed at controlling gun violence.
T Ailshire February 14, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Then you're inviting more government. You're entitled to your opinion. But why would you force that on others?
Wildermann February 15, 2013 at 03:09 AM
2013 will be a year consumed by legislative efforts to define what limits, if any, are going to be placed on guns in American life. These debates, even if they result in new laws, are mostly irrelevant. Only a groundswell from the masses of gun lovers, from those who understand the beauty of guns, will bring the necessary change. The gun once a phallic replacement for individuals, but today for a culture, a political world, that is collapsing — a world in which masculinity and freedom were easy to understand. That simplicity is gone. A black man is president. Working-class factory jobs are falling away. More women are moving up the corporate ladder. Go figure why guns are disproportionately owned by aging white dudes. The Newtown massacre may change the AR-15 from a symbol of health and strength and community spirit into one of sickness and weakness and isolation. It will take a transformation of the spirit. Such broad cultural changes aren't unprecedented. Continued next comment box......
Wildermann February 15, 2013 at 03:21 AM
......continued from above The defeat of crack cocaine in urban America, not because of the billions of dollars spent on the war on drugs resulting only in drugs becoming cheaper and more accessible but because it became clear that smoking crack was committing suicide. Crack evolved from a sign of pleasure to one of death. The same transformation may happen with assault weapons. A week after Newtown, Walmart stopped promoting the AR-15 in online ads and the Discovery Channel canceled American Guns and Ted Nugent's Gun Country. Since neither do anything out of the goodness of their hearts, we can assume they believe the appetite for weapons is declining. Government can be a force for both good and bad. It is historically more involved and less involved in our lives. The electorate and candidates are the deciders and advocates for more or less government. It sways back and forth in this regard enacting new laws that are rarely have broad support. There were bad outcomes as a consequence of government downsizing and deregulation to which I and millions of others were opposed. Was less government a forced measure?

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