In 1998, 13-year-old John Joseph Price was playing video games at a neighbor's house when he was accidentally shot in the face by a 9-year-old who found a handgun in a dresser drawer. In the wake of her son's death, Carole Price, of Manchester, worked with Maryland legislators to get legislation passed that, among other things, requires handguns sold in the state be equipped with internal trigger locks.
Her tragic experience with gun violence and her work to make guns safer got her chosen by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-District 8, to be present for President Barack Obama's State of the Union address today. Obama's proposed gun restrictions, which have become a source of heated debate, are expected to be a major piece of his address.
"I am honored and humbled by the invitation, but at the end of the day I'm just John's mom," Price said. "I appreciate that my son is still being remembered."
Following her son's death, Price said, she became very involved in the cause of gun safety. She hoped that by getting involved in the effort she would prevent other families from going through what she went through.
Price said she and other concerned families started the Asking Saves Kids Campaign, which draws awareness to guns being in people's homes that their children may be playing in. Price also became involved in the Marylanders Against Handgun Abuse organization and the Million Mom March in 2000. The march on Washington D.C. was organized to promote tighter gun control.
Van Hollen said he met Price while he was representing the Silver Spring area in the Maryland Senate. He began working with her to get the Responsible Gun Safety Act of 2000 passed through the legislature. When the bill was passed, it was touted for its firearm restrictions which aimed to reduce gun violence, Van Hollen said.
Fast forward 13 years to the present day. Several mass shootings, most notably the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, have occurred, spurring state legislatures and the president to introduce gun safety legislation.
Senators and representatives are given one ticket each to invite someone to sit in the gallery to hear the president's yearly address. Knowing that Obama was going to discuss gun violence during the State of the Union, Van Hollen said he could think of no better person to invite than Price.
"I was honored to ask Carole Price to join me for the State of the Union address," Van Hollen said. "I thought that she should have an opportunity to participate in the State of the Union address."
While a lot has been achieved in the past, Price said she believes that this Congress and president will have the opportunity to get more gun safety measures passed.
"I'm going as a supporter to the congressman, as a supporter to our president and I'm hoping that something comes out of this legislation that would help protect children better in everyday environments," Price said. "We, as a society, have to say it is enough when our children are dying because of the accessibility [of guns]."