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  • Cbc Hour: A Culture of Violence

    by Representative Donald M. Payne Jr.

    Posted on 2013-01-14

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    PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, let me first begin by thanking my good friend and colleague, my chairwoman, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge from the State of Ohio, for anchoring this evening's Special Order on the culture of violence.

    Coming together to address gun violence and bullying in America is long overdue. There must be something extraordinary done to truly curb these atrocities from occurring in our communities. Too many innocent men, women, and children have died because of the ease of access to illegal firearms. Fifteen of the 25 worst mass shootings in our history have occurred in America in the last 50 years.

    Harvard Injury Control Research Center studies indicate that in homes, cities, States, and regions in the U.S. where there are guns, both men and women are at a higher risk for homicide, particularly from firearms. These statistics are tragic. We must do something, and we must do something now.

    On the issue of bullying, bullying is also a major concern in our Nation. Who will be able to tell what will become of the next generation if statistics continue to rise with each national report on bullying? I'm very sensitive to this issue because I have three young children at home, and I perish the thought that they would be subjected to such actions.

    We are losing our next generation of poets, musicians, doctors, lawyers, scientists, and athletes to senseless gun violence and aggressive bullying. One out of every four teenagers is bullied and, furthermore, deterred from their academic potential. 282,000 students are physically bullied in secondary schools each month. One out of 10 children drop out of school because of bullying.

    We must take measures to protect our Nation's future generations. From the mass murder at the movie theater in Colorado, to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, to the schoolyard killings at Mount Vernon Elementary School in Newark, New Jersey--four youngsters with their whole futures ahead of them were violently murdered by a gang behind a school--I have seen what damage guns can do in the wrong hands. Let us be steadfast in making sure that events like these never happen again.

    Gun violence and bullying in America are not just problems, they are national health issues.

    What are the solutions? Well, Federal action is yielding some progress. The Brady law of 1994 has blocked the sale of firearms to over 1.6 million felons, fugitives, and other individuals. Still, more is needed. Proactive approaches include renewing the assault weapons ban, closing the gun show loophole, mandating installation of trigger locks, and eliminating influxes of cheaply made weapons. This does not infringe on anyone's right to bear arms in this Nation, but we have to do things that make common sense.

    There are guns that have been outlawed in this Nation's history. You cannot get a submachine gun. You cannot get a sawed-off shotgun. Why shouldn't assault weapons be added to that group? Also, gun buyback programs in my district and my State have removed hundreds of guns from the streets, and I am considering offering legislation to bring these programs to scale on the Federal level to help stem the tide of violence. These measures would undoubtedly save lives.

    Enough is enough. It is time to take action.

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