Christine Leinonen, Mother of Orlando Shooting Victim, Gives Devastating 2016 DNC Speech


Christine Leinonen, whose son Christopher "Drew" Leinonen was one of the 49 victims killed when a gunman opened fire at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, took to the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to tell voters about her son and urge the nation to elect Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is the candidate for president who will pass measures designed to put a halt on the U.S.' growing number of mass shootings, Leinonen said on Wednesday evening. She was joined on stage by Brandon Wolf and Jose Arraigada, Pulse survivors who comforted Leinonen during the course of her speech. 

"It takes about five minutes for a church bell to ring 49 times," her speech began. "I know this because last month, my son Christopher and his boyfriend Juan and 47 others were murdered at a club in Orlando."

"Christopher was my only child — as I used to tell him, you can't do better than perfect," she continued. "He had so many friends — two of whom are here tonight, representing hundreds and hundreds more. All his life, he brought people together. In high school, he won the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award for starting the gay-straight alliance. Christopher's paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp, so it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

"Christopher was a big Hillary supporter," Leinonen added. "That's why I'm here, so that I can tell you about the day he was born. At the time, I was a Michigan State trooper. When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn't argue — I know common sense gun policies save lives."

The "terrible math": Toward the end of her speech, Leinonen pointed out the startling numbers behind the gun violence that racked Pulse.

"The weapon that murdered my son fires 30 rounds in one minute, and the Orlando city commissioner pointed out the terrible math," Leinonen said. "One minute for a gun to fire so many shots, five minutes for a bell to honor so many lives. 

"I'm glad common sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died?" she asked. "I never want you to ask that question about your child. That's why I support Hillary Clinton."

Watch the full speech here:

Read more: