Washington: US President Barack Obama has said that when he delivers his annual State of the Union address next week, one seat in First Lady Michelle Obama's guest box would be left empty to honour victims of gun violence.
"The President announced that one seat in the First Lady's State of the Union Guest Box will be left empty for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honour their memory," the White House said.
Obama made the announcement yesterday in a conference call with over 20,000 supporters to discuss gun safety. He also apprised them about the series of steps he took this week to help reduce gun violence in America and make the communities safer.
The White House said the decision was made "to remind every single one of our representatives that it's their responsibility to do something about this."
It is a longstanding tradition to invite a prominent guest to sit with the First Lady during every State of the Union Address.
In an op-ed in The New York Times this week, Obama had said the epidemic of gun violence in US is a crisis.
"Gun deaths and injuries constitute one of the greatest threats to public health and to the safety of the American people. Every year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns," he wrote, adding that the US is the only advanced nation on earth that sees this kind of mass violence with this frequency.
On Tuesday, he announced a slew of executive measures to tackle the gun violence that claims thousands of lives in the country each year, amid stiff resistance from Republican controlled Congress to steps for tightening control on firearms.