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Robin K.
Democrat IL 2

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  • Progressive Caucus: Addressing Gun Violence

    by Representative Robin L. Kelly

    Posted on 2015-06-24

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    KELLY of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for yielding as we continue this important conversation.

    Every day in America, we navigate the threat of gun violence. From metal detectors in public buildings to shooting safety drills at schools and movie theaters, guns affect how we live and whether we live at all; yet, when gun violence intruded into the most sacred of places, piercing the peace of prayer at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, it stirred a sickening sadness within us.

    {time} 1745 It was a searing reminder that there is no corner of our country that offers a haven for us when guns end up in the wrong hands.

    [[Page H4636]] We are here today because of Charleston, to remember the lives of the nine souls who were lost. It is a ritual we have on automatic repeat, again and again, massacre after massacre, as an end run around real gun reform.

    We have the conviction covered. What we have lacked in Congress is the courage to do the right thing. The Charleston 9 are victims of this lack of courage, as are the 30,000 Americans who die each year from gun violence.

    For the first time in history, this year, gun deaths are on pace to be the leading cause of death of Americans aged 15-24. We are losing a generation of young Americans to guns. The future of our Nation is, quite literally, at stake.

    All across America, children are growing up in fear. Kids play tag indoors. Mothers second-guess on letting their children walk to school. Some studies suggest that repeated exposure to shootings in some communities is akin to the trauma suffered by soldiers in war zones.

    We as a nation have accepted gun violence as a fact of life. But we are better than this.

    In the Kelly Report on Gun Violence in America, I outlined a number of effective strategies to stop the bloodshed, which includes expanding gun background checks.

    I implore my colleagues to listen to your conscience and the conscience of the country you represent and work with me to chart a new course for a safer America. There is overwhelming public support for commonsense gun reform. Responsible gun owners support responsible gun laws. We can strike a sensible balance on gun reform that protects our Second Amendment rights while also ensuring the basic human right of all Americans to live free from gun violence.

    How many more massacres must we endure? How many more innocent people will we allow to be murdered on our watch? The time has come for Congress to have the courage of our convictions, to honor through action by expanding background checks to keep these depraved killers from getting their hands on guns, and the other gun safety laws that we have talked about in the past.

    We have the power to stop the next Charleston, Newtown, and Aurora so that no other American city becomes synonymous with gun tragedy. We have the moral imperative to stop an epidemic that claims more casualties than war and disease, combined.

    Congress must put saving American lives at the top of our agenda. We owe it to the Charleston 9 and to all who have fallen before them, as we owe it to a generation of young people at risk of meeting a similar fate.

    I thank the gentlewoman from New Jersey.

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