As Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushes new legislation on universal background checks, he has a fierce advocate in his office who happened to be a victim of the Aurora theater shooting.
After graduating from Syracuse in 2012, Stephen Barton and his best friend embarked on a cross-country bicycling trip. On June 20 they were in Aurora, Colo., attending the midnight premier of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises".
Barton, then 22, was shot in the head when James Holmes opened fire in the crowded theater killing 12 and injuring more than 70 others.
"I was hit in the head and torso by a shotgun blast before I had fully realized what was happening. I fell forward into the aisle and listened to the steady report of a semi-automatic rifle as warm blood rushed out of my neck and through my fingers," Barton detailed in a 2013 article in Syracuse University Magazine.
"I thought I was going to die, but I didn't feel ready at all."
Barton deferred his Fulbright scholarship to focus on his recovery and then began reaching out to gun violence advocacy groups including New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
"I began to place my brush with death in greater context by reading about the staggering amount of gun violence in America. What was once a totally peripheral issue to me had suddenly become the focus of my waking hours," he wrote in the 2013 article.
Barton began working for New York City Mayor Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns advocacy group.
"My job has since taken me many places, including New York City Hall, the White House, Congress, and various state capitols", he wrote. "I have met hundreds of survivors and family members of victims of gun violence from all walks of life, and we have worked together to transform our tragedy into advocacy."
Barton joined Schumer's staff in January as a special assistant. The senator has enlisted his comedian cousin Amy Schumer to help fight for legislation strengthening gun control laws.