Obama to leave seat empty at State of the Union to honor gun violence victims

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  • White House will leave one seat empty at State of the Union to represent victims of gun violence, President Obama said on a conference call Friday

Washington (CNN)The White House will leave one seat in the First Lady's State of the Union guest box empty on Tuesday to represent victims of gun violence.

"We want them to be seen and understood -- that their absence means something to this country," President Barack Obama said on a conference call Friday with more than 20,000 participants discussing gun violence prevention. "We want to tell their stories and honor their memory... remind every single one of our representatives that it's their responsibility to do something."
    The President added that gestures like the empty chair only matter "if it translates into action."
    The call, hosted by Obama advocacy group Organizing for Action, was part of the administration's push on gun control. Tuesday, Obama rolled out a series of executive actions on the issues that would close a loophole that allows unlicensed gun sellers to avoid running criminal background checks, include funding for mental health treatment, and add more ATF and FBI personnel to aid in enforcing regulations already in place.
    Thursday, the President sat down with CNN's Anderson Cooper for an hour-long live special on guns in America. The President fielded questions on his recent executive orders from opponents and advocates.
    On Friday's call, the President thanked the grassroots supporters for their work on the issue, adding he "felt a sense of urgency and possibility...and momentum about what can be done."