Families and friends of victims of gun violence stood silently at the start of the hearing.
People on both sides of the gun debate were invited to tell their stories to a Senate panel. Lawmakers are considering different ways to curb gun violence.
The parents of a Chicago girl killed last month also attended the hearing. Hadiya Pendleton was shot in a park on Chicago's south side.
At a news conference, families held up pictures of their loved ones and got their message out ahead of the president's State of the Union address.
The Pendletons are guests of the first lady at the address. Narly two dozen lawmakers gave their ticket to the president's speech to someone affected by a gun tragedy.
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