Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand
Posted on 2013-03-04
GILLIBRAND. Mr. President, I rise to talk about an issue that
every mother in America is thinking about. Every parent in America who
saw what happened in Connecticut bleeds for this issue. We have to do
something in our country about senseless gun crime. We have to do
something about making sure criminals do not have easy access to
weapons to shoot down our children and loved ones in the areas that
should be the safest places for them. We have seen these mass deaths,
whether at a school, whether at a university, whether in a movie
theater, whether in a community center; these crimes are happening over
and over again.
I can tell you that from when I was first appointed to the Senate in 2009, I have realized our State of New York suffers from grave gun crime all across our State. We have gang violence. We have gun trafficking. We have straw purchasing. Networks of weapons flow into our State. Eighty-five percent of the weapons used in crimes in my State come from out of State and 90 percent of those weapons are illegal.
I had to look into the eyes of parents who had just lost their daughter because of a stray bullet from a gang member. Nyasia's parents deserve an answer. The parents of the children in Connecticut deserve an answer.
I have good news today because the Senate is working on a bipartisan bill that is introduced today by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman Leahy, to begin to solve this problem. This bill has wide bipartisan support. It started out with Senator Mark Kirk and I working together. He has a real tough problem in Illinois with gang violence that he wanted to address and crack down on. That bipartisan work began to address other bipartisan work. The ranking member, Senator Grassley, was very interested in this bill and has been working with us to shape the bill, make it stronger. Susan Collins, who has been a leader on this issue, began to work with us to shape this bill and make it better. Senator Leahy and Senator Durbin have been working on the issue separately. We all joined forces to begin to write a bill that can tackle this problem, to make it a stronger solution, a better solution.
We now have cosponsors. We have the Presiding Officer right now, Senator Joe Donnelly. We have both Senators from Connecticut who must answer the parents of their State, that they are doing something about these senseless deaths. Senator Blumenthal, a former attorney general, knows what law enforcement needs to take on these criminals. Senator Murphy, Senator Klobuchar--also a previous attorney general--know what it takes to crack down on these kinds of crime and this senseless death. Senator King, an Independent, also signs on to this bill because he knows it can do something to crack down on gun violence in this country.
Of all the laws on the books in this country today, not one Federal law says you cannot buy a truckload of guns, bring them to another State, and sell them to a criminal network. It is not even prohibited. You would not believe it. How could that be true in a country such as ours, where the Federal Government's No. 1 job is to protect our families? That is what this bill does. It makes it a Federal crime to traffic, to be a straw purchaser, to sell these guns to criminal networks with the intent of breaking the law.
The law enforcement agencies--whether it is ATF, NYPD, FBI--will now have the tools they need on the Federal level to begin to tackle this crisis.
I urge my colleagues on both side of the aisle, if they want to do something about the senseless gun deaths in this country, this is a bill they can support. For all the law-abiding gun owners in this country who support the second amendment, as I do, they can look at this bill and say: That is a bill we are supporting; that bill should pass because it goes after the criminals and the illegal weapons that are the scourge of this country. Thirty people get killed a day because of gun violence--30 deaths. One is too many. When I look at Nyasia's parents, one is too many.
Enough is enough. I am certain that when this bill passes this Chamber and when law enforcement begins to have the tools, we will save lives.
I thank my colleagues again for all the hard work they have done. I thank Senator Mark Kirk for his courage for being the first Republican to stand up to do a gun bill, the first bipartisan gun bill introduced in this Chamber.