Sandy Hook father welcomes California victim’s dad to ‘family’

Richard Martinez Santa Barbara shooting
Richard Martinez, center, who says his son Christopher Martinez was killed in Friday night's mass shooting in Calif., is comforted by his brother, Alan, as he talks to media outside the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Headquarters on Saturday, May 24, 2014. AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

TORONTO – In an open letter posted to Facebook, a father whose seven-year-old was one of 19 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting welcomed Richard Martinez to his “extended family.”

“It is not a family we chose, but a family born from the horrible circumstance of losing a child to gun violence,” wrote Mark Barden.

Martinez’s son, Christopher Martinez, was a 20-year-old student at the University of California Santa Barbara, and was killed in a shooting rampage Friday night.

Read the full letter below:

Dear Richard Martinez,

We have not met, but you are now part of our extended family. It is not a family we chose, but a family born from the horrible circumstance of losing a child to gun violence—one that’s only growing each day. My heart breaks for you because I know just a little about the long road ahead of you. We have reached out to you privately but publicly we wanted to say to you and those feeling the sorrow, anger and frustration of this weeks’ shooting, you are not alone. It has helped me, and some of the other family members who lost children and family at Sandy Hook Elementary, to come together and advocate for common sense solutions to expanding programs for mental wellness and gun safety solutions. You will find your own path down this difficult road. But know that we are here for you and all of you who have been touched by this tragedy. Together we can and will build a safer world for all our children.

With deepest sympathy,
Mark Barden

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In an emotional speech outside a sheriff’s department Saturday, Martinez blasted politicians and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

“Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights. What about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop? When will enough people say stop this madness,” Martinez said.

Watch his full speech below:

At a memorial on Tuesday, Martinez read statements from the families of slain students Cheng Yuan Hong and Weihan Wang, and urged students to fight for tougher gun laws.

Barden lost his son Daniel in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 14, 2012. Since then, he advocated for an assault weapons ban that was voted down by the Senate in April 2013.


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