Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in an interview on Tuesday compared the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) influence over congressional lawmakers to a “chokehold.”
“This is unfathomable how many deaths we’ve had to see over and over and over again, and Congress has done nothing. The silence is literally deafening,” Gillibrand said on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
“They don’t get anything done because the NRA has a chokehold on Congress,” she continued. “The NRA is concerned only with gun sales. It is literally all about money. It is all about greed. It has nothing to do with the Second Amendment. We’ve seen death after death after death, and it has to stop.”
Gillibrand once held an A rating with the NRA. Now, her rating is an F. The change in her political views, she explained, came from listening to the stories of people affected by gun violence.
“The solution to this problem, Stephen, is listening to those kids, and hearing their pain, their frustration, their anger, and doing something about it,” she said.
Teenagers across the nation have been particularly vocal advocates of gun control following a deadly shooting at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School last week in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people were killed and 16 others injured after a gunman carrying a legally purchased AR-15 rifle opened fire in the school.
Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland shooting, spoke out against the NRA in an emotional speech over the weekend and decried politicians who accept money from the organization.
“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you,” Gonzalez said. “If your money was as threatened as us, would your first thought be, how is this going to reflect on my campaign? Which should I choose? Or would you choose us, and if you answered us, will you act like it for once?”
The Never Again movement, started by student survivors of the Parkland shooting like Gonzalez, has planned a nationwide “March For Our Lives” protest for March 24 with the goal of banning civilian ownership of semi-automatic and automatic weapons.
“I think this whole conversation has a chance of changing because of these kids,” Gillibrand told Colbert.