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Six months later, Newtown families grieve, push for stricter gun-control legislation

Families from Newton, Conn., return to Capitol Hill to renew their push for gun control measures. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., joins the NewsNation panel of Washington Post Editor Anne Kornblut and Democratic Strategist Chris Kofinis to discuss the progress being made toward legislation.

Six months after 20 children and six adults were killed in their classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the grief-stricken residents of Newtown, Conn., gathered to remember the tragedy.

A moment of silence lasting 26 seconds was held on Friday morning, and included the reading of the names of the victims by relatives. Starting at 4:30 p.m. local time, teachers from Sandy Hook Elementary School planned to begin reading the names of people killed by gun violence to date since the shooting.

Family members of the December shooting’s victims have become crucial to a continued push to pass new national legislation restricting the purchase and ownership of high-power firearms, an effort that has faltered since a bipartisan background check bill fell in the Senate in April.

A handful of states, including New York and Colorado, passed new gun laws after the shooting.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group founded by New York City Michael Bloomberg that lobbies for stricter gun laws, planned to launch a 25-state tour from Newtown on Friday.

Family members took to the steps of Capitol Hill on Thursday to read the names of those killed and petition lawmakers to pass stricter gun-control laws. Those efforts may bear fruit, said Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

“Members of the Senate know what the right thing to do here is, and ultimately a whole bunch of them decided to vote with the NRA because they were worried about their political tales, and their heart strings still matter,” Murphy said on MSNBC on Thursday.

“But second, what’s really happened over the course of this whole year is that a political infrastructure has been built around gun violence reform, and there are a lot of senators who are coming up to me on the Senate floor and saying, you know what, I’m not real excited about going up against this movement next fall, is there a way that maybe we can get this bill back on the floor, make it a little better, and try to take a second vote,” Murphy said.

Erica Lafferty, whose mother was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, confronted Sen. Kelly Ayotte about her no vote on the background check bill during an April town hall meeting in New Hampshire.

A number of other senators, including Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona and Montana Democrat Max Baucus, faced criticism for voting against the background check bill, which polls show had widespread support among Americans.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, who headed a gun policy task force put together after the shooting, visited on Thursday with family members of the Newtown victims.

“We want them to know that, as we approach the six-month anniversary of that terrible day, we will never forget and we will continue to fight alongside them,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.