February 03, 2020

Van Hollen Announces Andrea Chamblee as State of the Union Guest

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) announced that his guest to the State of the Union will be Andrea Chamblee, a gun reform activist and the widow of John McNamara, one of the five Capital Gazette journalists killed in Annapolis on June 28, 2018.

“On June 28, 2018 Maryland lost five sons and daughters – John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, and Gerald Fischman. Their murders broke the hearts of their friends and loved ones, the Annapolis community, and people across our state. Together, we have worked to honor their memories and do their lives justice. But since their murders, the Senate has yet to take meaningful action to address gun violence. From the daily toll of violence in our communities, to the mass shootings we’ve seen across the country, it’s past time to act. Since the death of her husband, Andrea has spoken out about the dire need for the Congress to pass gun safety reforms. I look forward to hosting her for this year’s State of the Union, and working together to highlight the urgency of this issue. Inaction is complicity,” said Senator Van Hollen, who has introduced the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act to address gun violence.

“This is Gun Violence Survivors Week. It's been 586 days since I watched the survivors of the Annapolis Capital emerge from the death trap that was their workplace, their newsroom. Because of an evil and dangerous man who never should have had easy access to a shotgun, my husband John McNamara was one of five colleagues who never made it out. Every day I grieve for him, and Rebecca, Wendi, Rob and Gerald. I want their story to inspire our legislators to pass the legislation that's pending and to prevent gun violence now. I'm so grateful for Senator Van Hollen's tireless work to end this nightmare of gun violence. I'm grateful he invited me here to represent Americans like me on this meaningful day,” said Andrea Chamblee.

Andrea and John had been married for 33 years. Andrea recently completed John’s 13-year-old project, his fourth book, titled The Capital of Basketball. Andrea lives in Silver Spring, Md. and is an attorney for the US Food and Drug Administration and an associate adjunct professor at George Washington University School of Medicine and Public Health.

Senator Van Hollen has consistently fought for common-sense measures to end the disgraceful epidemic of gun violence that results in more than 33,000 deaths every year. In June 2019, the Senator introduced the Handgun Purchaser Licensing Act, legislation to incentivize state and local governments to enact laws requiring individuals to obtain a license in order to purchase a handgun. The legislation is based on current Maryland law and is supported by national groups including Giffords and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence as well as Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence.

During his time in the House and Senate, Senator Van Hollen has also supported legislation to close the gun show loophole and implement universal background checks; plug the gaps in the current reporting systems for instant background checks; improve our mental health system and our ability to prevent individuals who pose a risk to themselves and others from obtaining firearms; ban semi-automatic assault weapons like the AR-15; limit the number of rounds in magazines; outlaw bump stocks; and eliminate the law that shields the gun industry from lawsuits for wrongdoing.