A picture of Representative Carolyn McCarthy
Carolyn M.
Former Democrat NY 4
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    Gun Violence Prevention

    by Former Representative Carolyn McCarthy

    Posted on 2013-02-13

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    McCARTHY of New York. I want to thank my colleagues for having this hour to talk about, really, the real issues and certainly hopefully break up some of the myths that are out there on what we're hearing, not only in the papers but certainly from some NRA members.

    I've been battling this, and many of us have been battling this issue for many, many years. I think that what happened just about 2 months ago today, that Newtown shooting happened. And that went through everybody's heart to think in this day and age that we could have a shooting that totally rips apart 20 children is unacceptable to the American people--unacceptable to the American people.

    Since that, being that we're trying to give as much information as possible to the American people what's happened since that day, over 2,000 people have been killed. Two thousand Americans have been murdered in episodes of gun violence.

    There are a number of us here, Members of Congress, that have gone through this kind of violence, either with a loved one, our colleague from California, Jackie Speier, we know what this can mean to a family. Last night, we had 25, 30, unfortunately, victims. And yet here we are debating, hoping, even after what the President said, give us a vote. Give us a vote. This isn't about us. This is about what our job is. We can have people disagree, and I know it's a lot of tough votes for some Democrats and certainly some Republicans. I believe that when we came here and got elected and we swore to uphold the Constitution, we knew we'd be facing tough votes. Who said this was going to be an easy job? It's never been an easy job. But it is a job that the majority of us here want to do.

    When the President spoke last night, and listening to the aftermath late last night on what some of the pundits were saying about what the President was actually trying to do, we heard the NRA say that the reason they're against some of the things that we want to do as far as Members of Congress and our task force that we want to really take everybody's gun away. Do you know that program that we were talking about, the buy-back? What they were saying was it's not really just a buy-back. It's confiscating every single one of the guns. Well, I don't think that would hold up constitutionally. And I think that we have put together, in my opinion, a reasonable, very practical way of reducing gun violence in this country.

    I also heard last night that assault weapons, long guns, and it only adds up to 8 percent of the people that are killed every year--8 percent. Can we stop putting numbers on everything and remember the faces that were here? Can we remember the people and the families that have lost their loved ones? They are not a number.

    Then they had another chart out that talked about handguns. Well, let me tell you something about handguns that affects almost everybody in our communities. Legislation that we are putting forward, the background checks, preventing straw purchasers, which basically is someone else is buying a gun for someone that is legally barred from buying a gun, think about how many handguns would not be sold to criminals. Think about how many lives will be saved.

    But, also, let's think about those who have survived gun violence. But many of them, if you think about a lot of the young people in Aurora that had no health care insurance--and I can talk about my own son who was 26 when he was shot with five others, and, unfortunately, his father was murdered that day. I can tell you his medical bills to this day--to this day--they have cost this country millions of dollars.

    Now I will say to you that we were very, very lucky; and I have been very, very blessed that he survived. But even back then, the doctors said that we would see changes in him as he got older because of the brain injury. And Kevin--God, I can't tell you how proud I was of my son. Two years of intensive therapy and they said he would never walk. He learned how to walk. Yes, he [[Page H483]] is still partially paralyzed, but he learned how to walk.

    {time} 1410 They said he would never talk. And when I talk about those days and somebody asks how is Kevin doing, I say, ``Well, you know, he just said.'' I spent my life as a nurse before I came here. And a lot of times when we think of patients who have had strokes and we're teaching them how to speak again, when we say they were talking, trying to get the words out is so hard. Every word becomes so difficult, but he had the power to do that.

    Our friend Gabby Giffords, who was here last night, to watch, in my opinion, her long struggle reminded me so much of what Kevin had to go through. I will say that Kevin went back to work, and he worked for many years. Unfortunately, he has reached the point now where he can't work, and he had to go on to Social Security disability.

    That has hurt his pride so much because of the work that he has done. All they want to be is looked upon and seen as just a regular person. There are thousands and thousands and thousands of Kevin McCarthys across this country. We are trying to prevent those kinds of injuries.

    Background checks, why should anybody be afraid of a background check? Why? Why should anybody--again, as was brought up in an earlier poster--when you go to a gun show--I remember when we closed the gun show loopholes in New York. Gosh, we had the NRA all over us basically saying it's going to ruin the business. I say to you, go to New York and see the gun shows that are held on weekends. There's a big difference, though. Nobody can go into that gun show without buying a gun from a licensed Federal dealer.

    By the way, the Federal licensed dealers, the gun shop owners in this country, they want everybody to go through a background check because you do have less than 2 percent of gun stores that are selling these illegal guns or guns disappear. It's ruining their reputations. These are honest businessowners. We're actually protecting them.

    There is so much that we can go on about. When it was talked about the people that are on the terrorist list, do people know that they can actually buy a gun without a problem? God forbid we should put them on background check. I mean, they're on the terrorist list, but they can go and buy a gun.

    I want to thank my colleagues, and I want to give them an opportunity to speak because I know we all care passionately about this. And I certainly will sit here and listen to my colleagues. If we have time, hopefully, we can all speak again.

    It's exactly two months since the shooting in Newtown and since then up to 2,000 Americans have been murdered in episodes of gun violence in our country.

    I know that ours is a country that believes in safety and in protecting innocent people.

    That's why we've instituted some of the most thorough auto safety laws in the world, and why we regulate access to medicine, and why we inspect food.

    It's also why we should be looking at the most dangerous consumer products in the world and seeing how we can make their use safer for Americans.

    When it comes to reducing gun violence, the president has already said everything he could possibly say.

    There can't be any more excuses--the ball is in our court here in Congress.

    The president was right in his State of the Union Address that gun violence victims ``Deserve a Vote.'' There's no shortage of options--I'm the sponsor of a bill to ban assault weapons, a bill to ban high-capacity magazines, a bill for universal background checks and a bill to limit online ammunition sales.

    Another bipartisan bill by my colleagues cracks down on illegal gun trafficking.

    Here in the House of Representatives, too many members of the Majority have been completely silent on these bills. They haven't even held a simple hearing to discuss the topic, and that's shameful.

    I would ask my friends on the other side of the aisle--what are you afraid of? I would tell them--you don't have to be afraid.

    Poll after poll after poll since Newtown--national polls--show that the majority of Americans want their lawmakers to take action to reduce gun violence.

    The majority of Americans support banning assault weapons. The majority of Americans support banning high-capacity magazines. And over 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks.

    Even three-quarters of all NRA members support universal background checks.

    So I would tell my friends across the aisle--I know this is a tough issue, but you were elected to make tough decisions.

    Tell us where you stand on these measures to reduce gun violence--the American people deserve to know where you stand.

    And then, have the courage to hold votes on the measures that are out there.

    This is a democracy--it's our job to represent the American people.

    If we don't hold votes on this issue that the American people are screaming out about every single day since that awful shooting in Connecticut, then this body will have failed in its duties and in its purpose.

    I will say to my friends across the aisle--let the people speak, and let their voices be heard.

    Over 30 Americans are being killed by gun violence every single day and it would be shameful to turn a blind eye to that fact.

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