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Evanston State of the Union Guest Honors Slain Son

Evanston resident Carolyn Murray held a photo of her slain 19-year-old son during Obama's State of the Union speech Tuesday, which she attended as U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's guest of honor.

As President Obama called for greater gun control during his State of the Union speech Tuesday, Evanston mom Carolyn Murray could be seen on TV, holding up a photograph of , who was shot and killed in November 2012.

A longtime advocate for gun control locally, Murray was invited to attend the address as the guest of honor of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky. She was one of several victims of gun violence who were invited, including the parents of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old Chicago girl who was gunned down in a park last month about a mile from President Obama's Kenwood home, as well as Kaitlin Roig, a first-grade teacher who survived the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

"It has been two months since Newtown," President Obama said in his address. "I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different."

In the final, most impassioned portion of his speech, Obama called for members of congress to consider his proposals to toughen gun control in the country. 

"These proposals deserve a vote," he said.

As Obama wrapped up his address, he recognized the 24 guests of honor present at the event, "whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence."

"They deserve a vote," he said, as Murray held up a photo of her son, Justin.

Murray  who enjoyed playing sports. He went to Oakton School and then King Lab, and graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2011, where he played football his freshman year.

“He had so much life inside of him,” she told Patch in December. “He just wanted to live.” 

A former Naval Reservist and longtime community activist, Murray began trying to organize a gun buyback program in Evanston this summer, as part of her role as co-chair of the West Evanston Strategic Team community group.

Days after 14-year-old Evanston Township High School student Dajae Coleman was shot and killed in September, she told Patch the city had finally approved her group’s idea for a gun buyback program. In early November, city officials finally set a date.  

Then, in a tragic twist, Murray's son, , in front of his grandmother’s house at 1818 Brown Ave. More than two months later, police are still investigating the shooting and have not taken anyone into custody yet.

The gun buyback took place as scheduled on Dec. 15, when Evanston police collected 45 weapons. 

“I would like people to get involved in their community, in their block,” Murray told Patch at the event. “If you weren’t active before, now is the time to start.” 

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