As the 50th anniversary of her father's assassination approaches, the daughter of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. said Thursday that limiting access to guns is long overdue.
The Rev. Bernice King, speaking at The King Center in Atlanta, offered condolences to the families of the 17 people fatally shot Feb. 14 at a Florida high school and commended survivors for their activism to change gun laws.
She said she hopes people can "look toward solutions as these young people are forcing us to have the conversations, bipartisan conversations." She also plans to join them for the "March for Our Lives" in Washington next month.
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"I thought about the fact that 50 years ago my father was taken away from us with a rifle," she said. "A few years after, my grandmother was slain. ... It is long past due in this society that we do something about the access to guns and the type of guns."
Martin Luther King Jr. was fatally shot on April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
Starting April 4, The King Center will hold a series of events during a six-day span to commemorate the anniversary. The center will launch a cross-cultural act of kindness campaign, a peace prize award ceremony and a global bell-ringing starting at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis and the King Center in Atlanta. King said she wants to focus on peace instead of violence.
"Daddy gave the vision," King said. "He outlined philosophy and methodology. But it was the people who embraced it. I'm hoping it will revolutionize our society to come back to it. I hope we don't miss this moment. Daddy said we still have a choice: nonviolent coexistence or violent annihilation. For me, it's recommitting to my father's nonviolent philosophy and methodology as we move forward."
King said the planning for the anniversary was an opportunity for "deep healing."
Associated Press writer Alex Sanz contributed to this report.