Gun Violence Preventionby Representative David N. Cicilline
Posted on 2013-02-13
CICILLINE. I thank the gentlelady from California for yielding,
and also for organizing this conversation about the dangers of gun
violence and our responsibility to reduce gun violence in communities
all across this country.
I want to also acknowledge the leadership of the gentlelady from New York, Carolyn McCarthy, who long before I arrived here was an inspiration to me and so many others across the country who have been fighting for responsible gun safety legislation.
Just to give a context to the problem we are confronting, the U.S. gun murder rate is about 20 times the average of other developed nations. What that means is someone in this country is about 20 times as likely to be killed by a gun as someone in another developed country. As some have already said, since the horrible, horrible killings, the murders of Newtown, 1,772 people have been killed by guns since that tragedy.
According to the CDC, there are 11,078 firearm homicides that accounted for 68 percent of all homicides in 2010. These are just some numbers that I think give us an understanding of the seriousness of the problem that we face with gun violence in this country. It's an epidemic.
I salute Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Mayor Menino and Mayor Bloomberg, who began that. I was a founding member. I salute the Brady Campaign for their work, but there are a couple of facts that are undeniable: Number one, the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to possess firearms, and the vast majority of gun owners are responsible and they possess firearms for their self-defense and their own protection. That's a fact.
Two, there are certain categories of individuals that we all agree ought not have access to firearms--dangerous criminals, the seriously mentally ill, and children.
So if we agree on those two facts--guns are permitted by the Constitution to be possessed by individuals, three categories of individuals at least ought not have access to those firearms--then we have a responsibility to design a system and pass laws that ensure that those three categories of individuals, in fact, don't have access to firearms; and we have the ability to do that by closing the gaping loopholes from private sales and from the fire sale that the gentlelady from California just referenced where, when your license to sell guns, your Federal license is revoked, that you're rewarded by having your entire inventory turned into a personal collection, and then you can sell it free from the constraints of background checks.
We can fix the background check system, be sure that States are putting accurate information into the system. We can ban assault weapons, which are weapons of war which don't belong in the neighborhoods of our cities and towns, and high-capacity ammunition whose only purpose is to kill a great number of people in a very short period of time. We have these very reasonable, commonsense solutions which are available.
Last night at the President's State of the Union, we had 30 victims who suffered the grievous impact of gun violence, who put a face on the devastation, the scourge of gun violence in this country. We owe it to them, we owe it to families all across this country to move on this legislation, to hold a vote up or down so we can take what most Americans support, responsible gun safety legislation to reduce gun violence in our country.
When the gentlelady was just going through the examples of what the NRA has been successful in doing, let's not forget, the NRA doesn't have a vote in this Chamber, so every single one of those actions happened because individuals in Congress voted for them, and they should be accountable for that. And we can fix it by taking votes today to enhance public safety, to impose reasonable gun safety measures that will protect children and families all across this country and continue to honor the right of individuals to possess a firearm as guaranteed in the Second Amendment.
I thank the gentlelady for her leadership and for yielding. This is an important issue.
I'll end with The New York Times headline that said, ``Do we have the courage to stop this?'' talking about the carnage in Newtown and the courage that family members have displayed who have been victims of gun violence. If we can match that courage, Members of this House can match just 10 percent of the courage that they've demonstrated in sharing their stories, then we'll do the right thing and pass responsible gun safety legislation.