Gun Violence Preventionby Representative Barbara Lee
Posted on 2016-07-06
LEE. Mr. Speaker, 2 weeks ago, Democrats sat on the House floor
for more than 26 hours. For a full day and night, we demanded justice
for victims of gun violence and action to prevent the next tragedy; not
just thoughts and prayers, but action.
Republicans turned off the mics. They turned off the cameras and just left. They cannot silence our voices because we are speaking for the 80 percent-plus of Americans who support commonsense reforms to stop gun violence, like background checks and keeping guns away from terrorists.
While the recent tragedy in Orlando--a tragedy that claimed 49 innocent lives--sparked the sit-in, there have been too many victims of gun violence throughout our country for too many years.
In my district in 2012, we suffered a large campus mass shooting. These people were trying to get an education. They were studying to become nurses because they wanted to help people. But their lives were cut too short by gun violence. A man with a semiautomatic weapon killed Tshering Bhutia, Doris Chibuko, Sonam Chodon, Grace Kim, Kathleen Ping, Judith Seymour, and Lydia Sim.
Sadly, these aren't the only members of my community who have lost their lives or loved ones to gun violence. Let me remember some of the victims of gun violence in my own community once again.
In my district, for example, there were 89 gun deaths in 2015. What is worse, many of these were children. Since July 2009, nearly 50 students in the Oakland Unified School District have been slain. Let me be clear: that is 50 kids.
Why isn't the Speaker allowing us to do anything about this? Just this past weekend, in my community, four people were gunned down in two separate incidents. Every day in my community and places around this country, this senseless violence continues.
How can House Republicans just ignore this bloodshed? Let me talk about a few additional victims so you can just understand their lives and share the horror that cut their loves so short.
Davon Ellis. This is Davon. Davon was a star football player and an excellent student at Oakland Technical High School. My nephew was walking with him when he was gunned down.
Antonio Ramos. Antonio was shot on September 29, 2015. Antonio was a talented artist working on an [[Page H4283]] antiviolence mural. He was one of 60 artists working on Oakland's superheroes mural project. He was shot by someone trying to steal his camera.
Chyemil Pierce. Chyemil was 30 years old. She was shot on March 13, 2015. She was a mother of three that was shot by a stray bullet while shielding her children. She had walked her 7- and 9-year-old children home from school at about 4:45 p.m., in broad daylight. Two others were injured in this shooting.
Torian Hughes. Torian was the grandson of my friend, Oakland Council president Lynette Gibson McElhaney. He died by a gunshot just a few days before Christmas.
Mr. Speaker, how many more Torians? How many more Antonios? How many more Chyemils will die protecting their children? Enough is enough. It is past time to do something. It starts with enacting background checks on all gun sales and making sure that guns stay out of the hands of those who cannot fly on airplanes. That is just common sense. The American people know it. It is about time the Republicans listen.
I am so proud that my community, California's East Bay, has rallied to support our efforts. Some family members attended our National Day of Action last week and pleaded with us to do something.
I want to share what one of my constituents said during our sit-in 2 weeks ago on the House floor. She called my office, in tears, with a powerful message for all of us, especially Speaker Ryan.
She said: ``I am a victim of gun violence, and I really appreciate what you are doing.'' She made one simple request--a request that the entire House Democratic Caucus has been making: ``I hope you can settle down and get a vote.'' I dare the Speaker to call her back and tell her: Sorry, we are trying to gain consensus. Some Members still have reservations. Sorry, reelection support from the NRA is more important than addressing the epidemic of gun violence.
Call her, Mr. Speaker, and tell her that the NRA and its millions matter more than her.
We need to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. Vote on our bills for background checks for all. Enough is enough.