Gun violence victims target change in 2018 elections

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Right now, the issue of guns is one of the most heated topics in our country. Political candidates - on both sides of the aisle - are making it part of their platform in this midterm election.

Our Washington Reporter Alana Austin speaks to a victim’s mother about her call to action, and whether the gun debate will draw people to the polls.

“The grief never ends," said Christine Leinonen.

Memories and belongings are all Leinonen has left of her son, Drew. Drew and his boyfriend Juan were among 49 shot to death at the Orlando Pulse nightclub in 2016.

“He was slaughtered," said Leinonen.

Leinonen - a former cop and gun owner - says she supports the Second Amendment, but thinks it’s time to ban semi-automatic weapons.

“You need a strong Democrat who’s willing to fight…we’re not being protected," said Leinonen.

After the Parkland high school massacre, student survivors-turned-activists pushed Florida’s GOP legislature to change gun laws. George Washington University political expert Lara Brown says these youth sparked a grassroots movement.

“If young people really get engaged, we could see many of these contests tip to the Democrats unexpectedly," said Brown.

But an October Gray TV poll shows only seven percent of likely Florida voters rank guns are their top issue. And, Gallup finds most Americans oppose a ban on semi-automatic guns.

Days after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, we asked White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp if the Trump administration is worried about the gun issue on Election Day.

“You can’t take the acts of a deranged individual to infringe on the rights of all Americans," said Schlapp.

Early voting shows a record number of ballots cast already for a midterm election. So far, four million Floridians voted ahead of Election Day.

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