On Wednesday, Christine Leinonen gave one of the most moving, heartwrenching speeches at the Democratic National Convention thus far. The mother of Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, one of the 49 shooting victims killed by Omar Mateen after he opened fire in Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, appeared at the DNC to speak of the loss of her only child and to call for gun safety measures. Pulse survivor Brandon Wolf, who was with Drew at the club, and Drew’s ex-boyfriend Jose Arriagada joined her onstage.
“It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times,” she said through tears while Wolf and Arriagada comforted her. “I know this because last month, my son Christopher, his boyfriend Juan, and 47 others were murdered in a club in Orlando.”
Leinonen also spoke of their family’s resilience in times of tragedy. “Christopher’s paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp,” she said. “So it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate.”
She detailed her son’s activism and said he was “a big Hillary supporter, that’s why I’m here.” A Michigan State Trooper when she went into labor when her son was born 32 years ago, she explained that the hospital put her off-duty gun in a safe. “I didn’t argue,” she continued. “I know common-sense gun policies save lives.” She added that the weapon used during the Orlando shootings fires 30 rounds in one minute and advocated for the same common-sense gun policies she employed.
As Orlando Sentinel reports, Leinonen was one of the first to arrive to Pulse the morning of the massacre. Drew, who was a gay rights activist, was one of the last victims to be identified. His boyfriend, 22-year-old Juan Guerrero, was also killed.
Find out five laws to keep guns away from people like the Orlando shooter.