Gun Violence Preventionby Representative Barbara Lee
Posted on 2013-02-13
LEE of California. Thank you very much.
First of all, let me thank you, Congresswoman Speier, for bringing us all together today to speak out on the important issue of addressing gun violence, not next month, not next year, not next Congress, but right now. And I have to just thank you so much for your tremendous leadership.
Yourself and Congresswoman McCarthy, both of you have so eloquently laid out why we need gun violence safety measures, both with your intellect and with your heart. Both of you have shared your very painful experiences, really, basically, so that others can live rather than die from gunshots. So thank you so much for staying the course.
I can think of no more important subject than what we're talking about today because this gun violence has been destroying communities, taking lives, and injuring too many people for much too long across America.
As President Obama invoked in his State of the Union speech last night, the families grieving from losing loved ones to gun violence deserve a vote. In fact, though, we're saying they deserve more than a vote. They deserve concrete steps to reduce gun violence, and we can take those steps right here in Congress.
We cannot accept one more innocent life being lost to gun violence, not one in Newtown, not one in Chicago or Cleveland, not one in my district in Oakland, California, not one in any town, any city, any school, in any theater, or any place of worship, mall, or any neighborhood.
We have an obligation to our children to ensure that Newtown marks a turning point that made us finally say, ``Enough is enough.'' We must come together to build an America where our children do not have to live in fear, and where they really believe that they have a future. Many of my young people in my district don't even think they have a future, and this is a very sad state of affairs that we've got to turn around.
Recently, I had an event in my district in West Oakland. It was the unveiling of a mural painted by several talented young artists. This ``Tree of Life'' mural depicted the hope and the faith that my young people have for a future from violence and without violence. Yet they've seen and experienced so much gun violence in their communities throughout their young years, but they still have a lot of hope, and they're counting on us here to make sure that their dream lives.
Too many of my constituents have been affected by gun violence, have pleaded for help in protecting their children from the horrors of gun violence, only to see the status quo at the Federal level.
Mr. Speaker, we need to take some serious action that includes what we've heard today, and I'll reiterate, commonsense measures such as the Federal gun buyback programs, banning high-capacity magazines, expanding the 24-hour background check, closing gun show loopholes, and reinstating the assault weapons ban. We need to do this immediately.
But we also need to work to end domestic violence in our homes and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. We need to do this right away.
We must also seek input from our young people, community stakeholders, faith community leaders, and others. We can work together to identify the root causes of this Nation's more than 16,000 homicides a year.
Let me call to your attention the work of a magnificent community- based organization in my district that I actually am very proud of, that I helped found in the early nineties, called the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Center. These young people continue to work on conflict resolution and violence prevention efforts day and night, but they constantly tell us that their work is thwarted by too many guns on the street. And so we have to pass these gun safety measures.
We have to repeal the Tiahrt amendment, which I know Congresswoman Speier and Mr. Moran and myself and other appropriators are working to do. And we must, as part of this, rededicate ourselves to getting the guns off of the street and working for, finally, a culture of peace and security.