Gun Violence Preventionby Representative Jackie Speier
Posted on 2015-10-08
SPEIER. Mr. Speaker, I am sick to my stomach this morning because
we have just witnessed the 45th school shooting this year. There have
been more than 294 mass shootings this year, and we have only had 272
days this year.
I am not going to stand for another moment of silence on this floor unless it is joined with meaningful action. It is a hollow gesture to act like we care for these families when the truth is we don't care enough to act.
Twenty-six times since Sandy Hook we have paused on this floor, we have paused to give our prayers and our sympathy to the families who have lost loved ones. But what are we doing for the next set of families that are going to lose loved ones? We are going to do nothing, absolutely nothing. In fact, we create more credibility in the fictionalized ``death panels'' than we do about the actual deaths of innocent schoolchildren, college students, and moviegoers.
This is the truth: In America, more preschoolers are shot dead each year than police officers killed in the line of duty. Ninety-two Americans are shot to death each and every day. Ninety-two will be shot to death today. Do we care enough to do anything? If there were that many people dying each day due to terrorism, disease, faulty consumer products, you bet we would do something, but not when it comes to guns. When it comes to guns, we can only muster enough to stand up on this floor and be silent. What a tragedy.
Our inaction means we are willing to let thousands of our fellow citizens die so we can prop up the myth that gun violence measures, which the Supreme Court has ruled ironclad under the Constitution, will somehow undermine the Second Amendment.
By refusing to adopt the mental health and background check measures supported by 90 percent of the population and 74 percent of NRA members, we are doing the bidding of the NRA lobbyists and the gun manufacturers. We are not standing side by side with the victims of Umpqua and Charleston and Sandy Hook. We are shrugging and saying, ``Eh, stuff happens.'' Stuff does not just happen. As you can see on this chart, gun violence is dramatically down in States that have passed strong gun violence prevention laws. You can see the trends in other industrialized countries that have reacted wisely to gun violence.
Australia had 13 mass shootings over 18 years. But then they put in strong laws to protect against gun violence, and they haven't had one mass shooting since then.
In Canada and Norway, also, they tightened their gun laws in the wake of mass shootings, and gun violence rates are a fraction today of what they were. These countries are our closest allies. They are not Fascist regimes. If they can do it, we can do it.
We need to make mental health reporting laws universal and enforce the ones already on the books. It is shameful that eight States have no mental health reporting laws and 13 States have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records each to the national background check system.
By the way, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn says that his measure is the solution. He has even introduced his own bill, but he and his Caucus have declined to advance it.
We have to make background checks universal by closing the gun show loophole and the loophole for online sales. These loopholes allow criminals, drug abusers, and mentally ill people who are already banned from having guns to get guns. Finally, we need to lift the ban on NIH and CDC research.
Mr. Speaker, I will not stand for another one of these hypocritical moments of silence, but I will stand up for any effort we make to pass sensible and genuine gun safety laws. Lipservice alone is a disservice to these families and the next families who don't want our prayers, but want the lives of their loved ones back.