A Gun Widow's Request: Courage in Congress : Assault weapons: Their sole purpose is killing on a mass scale; why not vote to save lives?

Michelle Scully is a San Francisco lawyer.

Last July 1 began with my husband John and me driving to work together in San Francisco, making plans for a long Fourth of July weekend. We had been married just nine months, but had been in love for nine years. We were best friends and felt incredibly lucky to have each other as lifetime companions.

By 3 that afternoon, our plans for the weekend and our entire lives were shattered. A deranged man had walked into my husband's law firm equipped with two TEC-DC-9 assault pistols, a .45-caliber pistol and more than 100 rounds of ammunition. Within minutes, eight people were dead, including my husband.

I was working in an empty office at my husband's firm when John came in to tell me that shots had been heard upstairs. We went into the hall, trying to leave the building, and saw a young man shot right in front of us. John and I attempted to hide in a nearby office, but were hunted down by this madman. My husband used his body to shield me from the flying bullets. When the shooting finally stopped, I opened my eyes to see my husband lying on the floor in front of me, blood coming out of his nose and mouth. He had been shot four times and fatally wounded in the chest. I had been shot in the right arm, and spent the next half hour sitting in a pool of blood, begging John to stay alive. He finally looked up at me and said, "Michelle, I'm dying. I love you."

I have not been the same since that moment. I now go through every day wishing there was some way that I could bring John back, because I can't stand the loneliness of living my life without him. I can't stand the pain on the faces of his parents, his sisters, his brother and his many friends. When John Scully died, a piece of everyone who knew him died too, because he touched everyone he met in a profound way.

I know there is nothing I can do to bring John back, so I have committed myself to preventing other John Scullys from dying. Unfortunately, it takes stories like mine to move the leaders of this country to action to take military-style assault weapons from our streets. These are not hunting or sporting weapons. They are weapons of war, designed to kill a large number of people in a short period of time. They have no place on our streets, in our schools or in our office buildings.

It would appear that the House of Representatives believes that assault weapons aren't a crime problem, having left this measure out of its debate about crime and out of its omnibus crime bill. While it's true that these killing machines may not be the most widely used weapons, they are 10 to 20 times more likely to be used in the commission of violent crimes than are conventional weapons. And assault weapons represent nearly 30% of the guns traced to organized crime, drug trafficking and terrorist crime.

My husband John committed the ultimate act of bravery by saving my life from a madman's bullets. Congress must only find the courage to pass a piece of legislation that will save lives and save others from the pain and loss that I will carry for the rest of my life.

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