Plan to address gun violence using ‘empty chair’ at SOTU prompts harsh response from critics

The Obama administration’s attempt to dramatically make a point about gun violence at Tuesday’s State of the Union address drew harsh criticism across social media.

Along with the guests invited to sit with the First Lady in her viewing box to watch the president’s final State of the Union will be an empty chair to honor victims of gun violence. The White House released the guest list, which can be viewed at, explaining that those chosen “exemplify the themes and ideals that the President lays out in his address.”

“We leave one seat empty,” the page reads, “in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box 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 honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence – survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”

Social media’s response was swift.

Some had other suggested “guests” and ideas on what the vacant chair should symbolize.

Even Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz replied with his thoughts on the empty chair.

And National Review’s Kevin Williamson proposed an idea that really took off with Twitter users.


Frieda Powers


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