A parent of a survivor of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting issued a message for the National Rifle Association on Tuesday. The parent, Andrei Nikitchyuk, said that the NRA needs to think about the children who can be saved in the future as a result of tougher gun laws.
“I would offer NRA, return this country their kids,” Nikitchyuk told reporters following a press conference hosted by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “If they can do it, I would like that very, very much.”
Nikitchyuk’s son, who is known as Bear, works as a helper in the classroom. He said that his son and another student went to the principal’s office on Friday to hand in an attendance sheet. Bear hear loud noises and witnessed gunshots. He was grabbed by a teacher and taken into a classroom to be kept safe during the incident.
The shooting took the lives of 20 children and six adults at the school on Friday.
On Tuesday, The Brady Campaign released a letter that said it was addressed “to everyone committed to a safer nation.”
“We know we are far from alone in our grief,” the letter reads. “Every day in America, 32 more families lose loved ones to gun murders, most in tragedies that do not make national headlines because they are so common. We believe we are better than this.”
The president of the Brady Campaign, Dan Gross, spoke at Tuesday’s press conference, which took place in front of the Capitol. He said that gun control should not be problematic because of support from American citizens.
“The only place that this is a contentious debate is in the building behind us,” he said.
Nikitchyuk said that he hoped gun control would be addressed following the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and then again following the mass shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year.
“I would avert my eyes, and I would still think something would be done, but all of those beliefs were shattered on Friday,” he said during the press conference. “Now I think we all need to speak up.”
Nikitchyuk made sure to note during the press conference that he was never asked to speak for Newtown, Connecticut and that he was not speaking for all of the parents at the school. Reporters were told that he had not had the chance to talk to most parents because of the shock still fresh in everyone’s minds.
“Not too many people speak,” he said. “So the parents — it’s such a delicate subject right now.”