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Son of slain Accent Signage owner gives Capitol Hill call for more gun control

WASHINGTON — Sami Rahamim joined gun violence victims and advocates in calling for more gun control before Tuesday night’s State of the Union.

Sami Rahamim: "Whether gun violence enters your life in a mass shooting or a single-victim murder, the pain is no greater and no less."
MinnPost photo by Devin Henry

WASHINGTON — Sami Rahamim became a gun control spokesman in the worst way possible.

When Rahamim, a 17-year-old high school student, heard about the shooting at his father’s Accent Signage last fall, he sent him an email telling him to be careful. His father, Reuven Rahamim, was shot and killed, and never responded.

Rahamim is Rep. Keith Ellison’s guest for tonight’s State of the Union, one of dozens of gun violence victims and relatives in town to help liberal lawmakers deliver a message: Pass gun control legislation this session and don’t let another shooting like that at Accent Signage, or Sandy Hook Elementary Shool, take place.

At a Tuesday press conference, flanked by survivors, activists and lawmakers, Rahamim said he was happy with the set of gun control proposals pitched by President Obama and others. Now, he said, it’s time to follow through and pass something.

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“As the president has said, if we can even save one life from the death of gun violence, we have an obligation to try,” Rahamim said. “However I believe if we pass the Fixed Gun Checks Act, ban assault weapons effectively and limit high-capacity magazines, we will save many more than just one life.”

It was the message of the day, that in the realm of gun control, something is better than nothing.

The group, gathered by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, held up photographs and shared personal stories of violence to illustrate what new gun control laws could theoretically prevent.

Emily Nottingham, the mother of U.S. House staffer Gabe Zimmerman killed in the Tucson shooting that badly injured Rep. Gabby Giffords, gushed about her son’s love of D.C.; Lynn McDonnell, whose daughter Grace was killed at Sandy Hook, talked about her budding artistic talent; Cleopatra Pendleton, the mother of the Chicago girl killed weeks after marching in last month’s inauguration parade, fought back tears and called on Congress to move on gun control.

“No one should feel the way we do, and I’m appealing to the Congress,” Pendleton said. “You guys signed up for the job. Do something.”

The Rahamims have become a bit of a symbol for gun control in Minnesota. Sami Rahamim took part in a roundtable with President Obama during his visit to Minneapolis last week. His sister, Miya, attended gun control events on Capitol Hill with Mayor R.T. Rybak in January.

Rahamim said personal stories like the ones told Monday could help sway lawmakers who might be disinclined to back tougher gun laws.

“Gun violence in the United States is a much bigger problem than the shooting that killed my father,” he said. “It’s a much bigger problem than Virginia Tech, it’s bigger than Aurora, it’s bigger than Tucson and it’s bigger than Newtown. Whether gun violence enters your life in a mass shooting or a single-victim murder, the pain is no greater and no less.”

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.