The audience attending President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday night will include a crowd of guests affected by gun violence, who will lend a tragic face to the gun control proposals the president is expected to push in his speech.
The parents of a Chicago teenager killed shortly after performing at Obama’s inauguration will sit with first lady Michelle Obama during the speech, the Associated Press reports. Representatives from Newtown, Conn., will also be attending, AP notes.
The invitations are unsurprising, given that the president has been aggressively pushing gun control since the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. During a January speech where he unveiled a package of gun control proposals, Obama surrounded himself with children who had written to him asking for gun control laws after the shooting.
A group of Congressmen have also invited families of gun violence victims, according to AP. Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., headed up the effort to bring victims’ families to Washington.
“To have them in the gallery during the speech is a strong reminder to Congress that the American people want action on these issues,” Langevin, who was paralyzed as a teenager in a gun accident, told AP.
On Monday White House spokesman Jay Carney named gun violence as an “important priority,” though he would not confirm whether Obama will speak specifically about gun control in Tuesday’s address.