tv U.S. Senate Senate Democrats on Guns Part 3 CSPAN September 18, 2019 2:33am-3:48am EDT
weapons. the f.b.i. director recently reported to congress that the bureau had arrested almost as many domestic terrorists as foreign terrorists this year. he said most of the racially motivated domestic terrorism cases were likely connected to white supremacy. it is up to this body to stand up to the president's anti-immigrant and racist rhetoric and unequivocally affirm this nation's values, values of equality, of tolerance, and inclusiveness. and, madam president, it's up to this body to stand up to the n.r.a. and stand with the american people. madam president, i mr. bennet: madam president, i'd ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, madam president. last month over 50 americans
were killed in mass shootings in this country while we were on the august recess when we should have been here doing our job. 100 americans are killed every day from gun violence. there are 100 desks in this room. there are 100 chairs behind each one of those desks. and if these were the americans killed by gun violence, they would add up to every single desk that's in this room. and yet the majority leader didn't bring us back during the august recess, didn't say we should cancel our vacation and come back to work for the american people, hasn't put a bill on the floor or given the opportunity for anybody else to put a bill on the floor now that we've been back in session for the last two months. in colorado alone in the last 1 months we've -- 18 months we've lost 882 people to gun violence.
that's a record in my state, madam president. ifthe house of representatives s done their job. more than 200 days ago they passed background checks over there, and we haven't even taken them up over here. this isn't a matter of bringing the bill up and vote on the bill. we can't even get the about toil the floor for 2 -- get the bill to the floor for 200 days. why? because the majority leader of the united states of america says that he's only going to bring gun legislation to the floor if he knows what the president will sign. he's not capable, as the majority leader of the united states, to put an amendment on the floor for an up-or-down vote. even when that amendment has
passed the house of representatives 200 days ago and 96% of the american people support it. 96%of the american people support it. so why can't he bring it to the floor? he says that only if the president tells him what he'll sign will he bring it to the floor. and we all know how hard it is for the president to make up his mind about anything. particularly about guns, when he has one thing to say right after a tragedy has happened and then two days later avenue meets with the n.r.a. -- days later after he meets with the n.r.a., he's singing from a complete different song sheet. here's what mitch mcconnell said in 2014. he said, quote, the senate should be setting national priorities, not simply waiting
on the white house to do it for us. i wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. this is an independent branch of government. the 100 people sitting in this room have been sent here to represent the pooh emthat voted for -- the people that voted for us and the people that didn't vote for us. and 96% of them said they want background checks on guns. but we can't even have a vote. i'd like to see a vote just so i could see who in this chamber wants to vote against background checks. i think it would be amazing to the american people to learn that. instead of just hiding behind this myth that the president of the united states gets to decide what comes to the floor. he's not the majority leader. there's one person in america whoest goes to decide what comes to -- who gets to decide what comes to the floor, one person in america, and that's the majority leader.
mitch mcconnell from kentucky. it's not donald trump. and he knew that in 2014. and he knows it today. but the n.r.a. is too scared to see this thing come to the floor because they know it'll pass. and that they'll lose as a result of that. it's long past time for us to beat the n.r.a. on this issue. m washington state is here so i won't go on for too long. but if i could have a couple of minutes. i'm also from a western state, the state of colorado. 20 years ago we had one of the very first school shootings in this country at columbine high school. and in the wake of that, we passed background checks. we passed the same bill that mitch mcconnell won't bring to the floor, the same bill. almost 20 years ago.
and my oldest daughter is 20 years old. she was born right after columbine. and our two other daughters are 19 and 15. and like so many children across this country, they have grown up thinking that going to school is unsafe, that they could be shot in school. they had to do drills that we never had to do, madam president, when we were kids. never had to do it. and they have the knowledge that the united states congress doesn't care about it because for 20 years we've done nothing. in colorado, a western state, a second amendment state, we passed these background checks. and as a result, every year 2% or 3% of the people that come to buy a gun don't -- can't buy a gun because they're murderers or they're rapists, or they're domestic abusers. they're people that shouldn't have a gun. i'd like to see anybody come to
this floor and tell me why colorado would be more safe if we didn't have those background checks, why we'd be more safe if murderers got guns and rapists got guns and domestic abusers got guns. they can't come here and do it and they're hiding from the vo vote. they're hiding from the vote. and it's their responsibility to vote. and there's only one person in america that can hold that vote and that's mitch mcconnell. i can tell you this. it's not because we're too busy around here. we were in session last week for 27 hours. that's not even a french wor workweek. that's pitiful. pitiful, 27 hours. do you know how many amendments we've considered in the nine months that we've been here this
year? 18. that's two amendments a month. we have passed four amendments in this broken place. pitiful. pitiful. before he became majority leader, mitch mcconnell came down here and said that we were going to work on fridays, that we were going to have regular order. 27-hour workweek. i can tell you this. it's not because we're considering the election protection legislation which are bipartisan bills that senators in this chamber want to vote on to respond to the russian attack on our democracy. it's not because we're too busy with those bills. we are doing nothing here except for confirming judges for donald trump. and i think i speak for my
colleagues when i say i'm willing to work more than 27 hours. i'm willing to work a frempleg a french workweek or u.s. workweek if it means we could actually have votes on amendments that 96% of the american people support. madam president, i'll close by saying there is no one else to do this job but us. the house has done their job. donald trump can't make up his mind about anything. maybe he'd like us to send in the background checks to help him make up his mind about what he can do for the american people, but i can tell you this. our kids can't do this. they're too busy. they are in school. they're trying to learn reading and trying to learn math. they should not be asked to try to figure out how to stop these mass shootings in this country or what it would look like to have a representative body of the united states actually represent the people that sent
us here instead of sitting around in our offices trying to avoid hard votes. how is it a hard vote when nine out of ten americans support it? it's only a hard vote because the n.r.a. is taking names and watching this. i say to my colleagues, we would be so much better off, democrats and republicans, ripping this band aid off and getting on with the business that the american people sent us here to do. mitch mcconnell should put on this floor these background checks. madam president, i thank my colleagues for their patience, and i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. a senator: madam president, i join my colleagues on the floor tonight. i want to thank the senator from colorado for an articulate and very passionate speech about the reasons the united states senate should be voting on sensible gun laws. ms. cantwell: that's what we're really here to say tonight, that it's past time that we take action and that we should in the
united states senate let the american people know where members of the united states senate stand on these important issues. too many americans have been impacted by gun violence and too many places have been the site of these attacks, whether it's churches, synagogues, or mosques, whether it's our schoolchildren or people just going about their everyday lives shopping, going to a concert, or even watching a movie, too many family and friends are left waiting trying to understand whether their loved ones are going to return home. and too many have been devastated finding out that their loved ones aren't coming back. so, madam president, it's time that we act here in the united states senate and support legislation that we know, the american people support. in my home state places like the seattle pacific university, the jewish federation of greater seattle, freeman high school
outside of ska, the marysville pillchuck high school shooting, the burlington shopping mall in skagit county, white swan, all of these communities have taught us that we needed to act. it's past time for us to act here, but the good news is that the people of washington state did act. those people rose up and helped support legislative initiatives that went to a vote of the people and not only have they been successfully passed, they are showing successful results. in the state of washington, we passed universal background checks by a popular vote in 2014, and we saw amazing results as in just the first 14 months. it helped prevent over 50 gun sales to felons. my colleague from colorado mentioned a similar thing in his state. and after closing private sales loopholes, it resulted in 144
denials to those with expanded background checks. so it does mean that the people of washington state are at least safer in this regard because we have more tools in our toolbox to deal with this. now, i also want people to understand that we've passed an extreme protection order law. that was passed in 2016 with nearly 70% of washington state voters helping and voting in that election. so what we saw was that in a state where we probably have 27% gun ownership, we saw in 31 out of 39 counties people supporting this measure to say that extreme people should not be allowed to get their hands on a gun. this was supported in rural communities, suburban communities, urban communities. and when in front of the senate judiciary committee last year, king county deputy senior prosecuting attorney kimberly
wyatt testified she called it a critical evidence-based harm reduction tool. end quote. how does that sound so threatening, a tool that law enforcement is telling us it's critical evidence-base that's going to help us reduce harm to our fellow citizens? deputy prosecuting attorney kimberly wyatt told a story of a doctor who contacted police because of a patient who wanted to obtain a concealed weapon permit, had repeatedly talked about making a hit list, quote, and doing harm to people. so using the extreme protection order, we are allowed to help keep these people from getting their hands on a gun and doing harm to themselves and to fellow citizens. so these measures supported in my state are initiatives by the people. as i said, supported by wide majorities across all geographic areas of our state. and yet we can't find out here
in the united states senate how our senate colleagues would vote on these very important measures. so i hope that the other side of the aisle will consider we will go state by state if necessary. we will get the people involved in passing these laws. why? because they know they're common sense and they work. and we want to keep the public safe. we know that we want to have these tools so law enforcement and others can do their job. it is long overdue to have a vote in the unitedtates senate on these issues, and i hope our colleagues will give us that opportunity. i thank the president and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from massachusetts. mr. markey: madam president, i rise to echo the sentiments of the senator from washington
state. she has absolutely articulated the reasons why this senate should just stop what it is doing and bring these bills out to the floor for a vote so that we can begin to make it more difficult for the wrong people to be able to buy guns in our country. with no background checks, with no ability to identify who they are. and so this debate is one that should have already taken place in august after what happened in el paso, after what happened in dayton. we should have had a debate out here on the senate floor. the house has already passed legislation that deals with the background checks of any person who wants to buy a gun in our country. that's the least that we should be able to do. and by the way, it polls out at
89%. there aren't many issues that poll out at 89%. the reason that it does is that the country is horrified by what it is seeing day after day on their televisions as the carnage continues to rise, as the hemorrhaging of communities continues unabated across our country. the n.r.a. retains a vice-like grip on the senate of the united states. it's almost as though they're able to put a lock on these doors courtesy of the republican leadership so that no bill can come down here into the well of the senate to be debated on background checks.
the n.r.a. just refuses to allow those bills to come out here. and so we have no debates. we have no votes. we have no accountability. that's the status of the united states senate in september of 2019 as we see an epidemic of violence across our country. so bring those bills out here on to the floor, republican party. forget the money from the n.r.a. forget all of the spending which they make. let us not put a price on the lives of 34,000 americans who died just last year on top of the lives of those who died the year before and the year before. and those who are part of a
preventive -- preventable epidemic in our country for next year and the year after and the year after in the future. and after we finish debating background checks, we should then have a debate on military-style assault weapons and whether or not they should be sold in our country. and high-capacity magazines and whether or not they should be sold in our country. those were the weapons that we used in dayton. those are the weapons that were used in el paso. let's have a debate here on the floor of the united states senate. let's have people have to be made accountable for allowing these dangerous weapons that belong on battlefields but not on the streets of our country. in fact, when they're on the streets of our country, they turn our streets into battlegrounds where the
criminal, where the bad person has a weapon in many instances that is more powerful than that of the police. that's just plain wrong. and we can do something about it if the senate allows these doors to open, if the republicans allow this debate to take place. but of course it won't because the n.r.a. controls access to the floor of this senate. then let's have a debate on the loopholes which allow abusers, domestic abusers and terrorists to be able to purchase guns in the united states. let's have that debate here in the floor of the united states senate. let's have people have to vote on whether or not they want domestic abusers to purchase guns in our country. or that they should be able to
keep their gun, if they've already been identified by the local police as being a danger because they are domestic abusers. and the same thing is true for safeguards against terrorists it purchasing weapons. and when are we going to have the debate on research at the centers for disease control on the causes of gun violence in our country? i've introduced that bill for ten years to have that research be done. the house has now moved legislation to deal with that issue. but over here so far these doors are locked. that legislation cannot make it to the well of the senate so that we can have a debate. the n.r.a. guards these doors. the n.r.a. will not give permission to have a debate on whether or not we do research on
gun violence in our country. what are the causes? why radio -- why are we the highest among other industrial countries? what differentiates us from other industrial countries? for me, i say it is time for us ton this floor to ensure that the n.r.a. stands for national relevant anymore in american politics, in senatorial politics. that the doors are open, that the legislation can come down, that we can have a full debate here on the senate floor after all that we have learned in these last weeks and months and years about how unnecessarily easy it is for people to be able to purchase these weapons. so this is a debate which the american people want, and we're
either going to have that debate in the course of regular senate business or we're going to have it next year in the presidential and house and senate races all across our country. because this issue now is completely changed in terms of how the public views it, except amongst the republican leadership in our country. and so if -- if that's how they want it, then just be sure that young people especially are outraged across our country. they're outraged that we don't debate climate change in the well of the senate. they're outraged that we don't debate gun safety legislation in the united states senate. and so there's a kind of a sow the wind, reap thewhile wind political consequence that is going to occur, and all i can
say is that we can hope and pray that the senate republican leadership allows for this debate, does not wait for donald trump to give them permission to have this debate. this shouldn't have to be a complete and total accession of senatorial prerogatives to another branch of government. we should be able to do this ourselves, the senate. this issue goes right to the core of the safety of every family in our country, and if we do it, i actually think that almost every senator here will be praised for ensuring that we have background checks. that's what the polling says. and if we don't, then perhaps a
small handful of republican senators will be praised by the n.r.a., but it will be at a terrible price in terms of the lives that are lost. in massachusetts we have the lowest gun facility -- gun fatality rate in the country. if massachusetts gun laws were the laws for the country, only 6,000 people would have died last year. and what's our key law? if you want to buy a gun and get a license in massachusetts, you have to go into the police station and talk to the police chief. we have 351 cities and towns. that's how he get a gun license. it's the police. and so we know how simple it is to have a background check, to make sure that we know who's buying these guns. down in parkland, the home of that young man had been visited over and over and over by the police, but he didn't have to go
to the police to get a license. he'd get right around that system. who knows you best? the local police do. we don't want to keep guns out of the hands of those who should be able to purchase them -- hunters, others. but y do want the police to be involved. you do want background checks to make sure that the wrong people can't buy them. we know that's at the heart of this problem. and so, for me, this is an absolute necessity for the snoot have to have dealt with before the end of the session. it would be historically inexcusable for us to have avoided having that debate here. and so, for knee, i would just say -- and so, for me, i would just say, enough is enough. let's end business as usual. let's put in place the process by which this senate, that greatest deliberative body in the world, reclaims its
reputation that it has lost, and let us debate gun safety legislation here on the floor of the senate. madam president, i yield back. mr. blumenthal: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: thank you, madam president. i am here after talking to my good friend, fred guttenberg, who visited my office just minutes ago to talk about what we are doing here on the floor of the united states senate, what we are failing to do more precisely, and what we have an obligation to do at this moment in history. fred guttenberg lost his precious, beautiful daughter
jamie in parkland largery stoneman douglas high school in a tragedy that we all recall -- at least i do -- as though it happened yesterday. and fred guttenberg has made his life's mission now in his daughter's memory to fight for commonsense steps to save other children from that kind of violence and other parents from all of our worst nightmare -- i say as a father of four. but fred guttenberg, being the enormously hopeful, energetic, and positive person that he is,
talked to knee about florida's extreme risk protection order statute -- or at et cetera known there -- or as it's known there, red flag statute. and about how it is working to save lives and how it has been used more than 2,000 times since it was passed barely a year ago, and how it, in fact, worked most recently in the case of a young man who made threats online with a stash of firearms in his home that were turned over to law enforcement voluntarily when they came to his home. they were turned over voluntarily by his parents. they didn't need to use the warrant because his parents knew
that a risk warrant was telling them something they already knew, which is their son was dangerous and that firearms in that home posed a clear and present and urgent threat of another marjorie douglas -- marjory stoneman douglas tragedy. and so, using that red flag protection order statute was actually unnecessary there, but it provided the police and law enforcement with a means to an end. and it has been used more than 2,000 times, and in fact in our judiciary committee, a nominee for the southern district of florida, who is you a now a --
who's now a sitting court judge, relaid to us how he has -- relayed to us how he has applied this statute. what he said to us is it works. it saves lives. it prevents suicides. it helps stop domestic violence that can lead to fatalities. these laws work. these laws work to save lives, as we've seen in connecticut, where proudly we have led the nation in adopting a comprehensive set of gun violence prevention laws. the experience of connecticut, the empirical evidence, the facts on the ground, the testimony of law enforcement all tell us these laws work.
and it isn't just one law. there's no single panacea. there's no one solution. it is a comprehensive set of commonsense measures. ants opponents of these -- and the opponents of these measures will point to one tragedy or another that could not have been prevented by one law or another, and that's the reason that it has to be comprehensive, and it will never prevent all of the tragedies. there will still be gun deaths in this country, but these laws work to save lives, and as fred and i said to each other, if one life has been saved in the state of florida by its emergency risk protection order statute, it was
worth doing. if one daughter of one potential ly grieving parent was saved, it was worth doing. but it is many more than one life that will be saved if we adopt the measures that are before us. ideally, h.r. 8, universal background checks that has come to us from the house, the closing of the charleston loophole, which i have long championed and i've introduced as a separate measure here, emergency risk protection order or red flag statutes that my colleague and i, senator lindsey graham, have worked on, negotiated over months, and now
it is on the verge of introduction. we know that the task before us is to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, to prevent people who will kill or injure themselves or others from having those firearms. and the ghoul background check -- and the universal background check goal is to enforce a statute that was adopted many years ago that keeps guns out of the hands of specific people who are dangerous because they are convicted felons or drug addicts or fall into other categories. keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people before they are purchased. and an extreme risk protection order statute keeps guns out of the hands of people who, like
the shootert in parkland, as my colleague -- like the shootert in parkland, as my colleague, senator graham, says, all but took out an ad in the newspaper saying he was going to kill people. as this young man did in coral springs when he went on the internet. and under our statute, there is complete due process because not only must a statutory standard of proof be met for the warrant, the risk warrant, much like an arrest warrant or the a search warrant, but then in a subsequent hearing, within a week or two or three weeks under other jurisdictions, there is that right to a hearing. and the burden of proof is even higher for that gun to be kept away. and then the order itself lasts for a specific period of time. so there are guarantees of due
process here. every one of these proposals -- universal background checks and emergency risk protection order -- is within the heller decision, consistent with the second amendment. we respect the second amendment. it is the law of the land. but they can help save lives. and that is why 90% of the american people support universal background checks and they support extreme risk protection order laws. they know lives can be saved if guns are kept out of the hands of dangerous people. these stories are so common and so tragic. a young man exhibits disturbing behavior. he's clearly troubled. his friends, relatives,
teachers, even law enforcement are aware of his hateful rants. he posts pro-nazi photos online. we know the end of this story, too. it's the story of dakota that started like so many others, charleston, pittsburgh, dayton. he posted on neff 11 -- on november 11, 2018. i'm shooting for 30 jews, except here's how that story ended. when this young man ended an anti-semitism fueled massacre, law enforcement was granted an extreme risk protection order. dakota reed was online threatening to kill people and law enforcement seized his 12 firearms.
for so long we've been told there's nothing that can be done, but this one example, like the young man in coral springs shows there are effective solutions. these laws work. the and as so many americans know, there is no shortage of ideas to stop preventable gun violence. there is only a shortage of courage. there is l only a dearth of will. and for too long congress has been complicit. congress has blood on its hands if it continues to fail in meeting this basic responsibility to keep americans safer than they are now. almost every community has been affected by this national epidemic of gun violence. those massacres in el paso and
dayton within the 24-hour period that left 31 dead. before congress returned from its recess a shooter in odessa, texas, killed another seven. communities are forever changed by these events. the fear that's engendered and the trauma of these shootings affects these communities, tears it apart in ways that take years to recover from. like my colleagues from connecticut in the house and here in the senate, i will live forever with the sights and sounds of that day in sandy hook the cries of grief in that afternoon and afterward when 26
beautiful people, sixth grade grade -- six grade educators and 20 young children and i was at the firehouse where parents went to find out if their children were dead or alive. and they found out by waiting as the children arrived, but not all the children, and that's how the parents who lost their children found out. thosenguished cries and sobbing, the grief had been repeated 2,226 times since in mass shootings. they have left 2,000 communities
grieving. but more than those mass shootings, there are the deaths, every day 90 dead, 36,000 americans killed by gun violence every year. that's about 100 every day. and gun deaths are on the rise, not reducing. 39,773 gun deaths for 2017, the most recent year for which it's available. not even counting the physically wounded, those who escaped mass shootings physically unscaigd unscaigd -- unscathed but with lifelong mental scars and the thousands of friends and family members of the victims whose lives are forever altered by the victims of gun violence.
despite this unconscionable loss of life,ongres has done nothing, complicit in the mass shootings, but also in the suicides and domestic violence. laurie jackson's death in connecticut by the hand of her estranged husband, and her children traumatized, losing their mother, parents, becoming active advocates, courageous and strong advocates for a change in the law. we have an obligation to act regardless of whatever the president says or does. there's nothing in the constitution that says the united states senate can act only if the president commits to signing some law. there's nothing in the constitution that says we can
act only if the president endorses a specific measure. we have that duty independent of the president. we have a constitutional duty. and we have already ceded too much of our power in too many areas.we cannot, we need not, we must not cede that independent obligation that we have to act and act now. medical research tells us that 80% of the perpetrators of mass violence exhibit clear signs that they are going to carry out an attack, often including explicit threats of violence. the parkland shooter is only the latest example, or one of the latest examples. and in all of those jurisdictions that have extreme risk protection order statute,
the experience is that they were. now i've introduced jamie's law, that would provide for background checks on ammunition purchases. there should be a universal background check on purchases in honor of fred guttenberg's daughter amy. i've supported a ghost gun statute that would take account of the need to act on weapons that are made in literally people's homes using kits like the one used by the rancho gunman there referred to as ghost gun because they have no serial number or any type of traceable registration or identification. one scholar estimates that at
least hundreds of thousands of unmarked receivers already have been sold in the united states. of course an assault weapon ban. there are some weapons that no one should ever be able to use as they were in el paso, dayton, las vegas, parkland, orlando, newtown, aurora, columbine. these tragedies alone account for 211 people lost to gun violence. assault weapons are literally weapons of war. assault-style weapons can fire hundreds of rounds in a minute. and until recently they could be converted to automatic weapons. a recent study found that when assault-style weapons are used with high-capacity magazines, 155,000 more people are shot and
47% more are killed than in other instances. earlier this year i was pleased to join dozens of my colleagues in introducing the assault weapons ban of 2019, making the sale, manufacture, transfer, importation of military-style assault weapons by name as well as by a number of features and modification illegal, banned under our law. and i was pleased also with my colleague chris murphy to introduce a safe storage law, named after ethan of guilford, connecticut, who was killed while playing with a weapon in his friend's home. this legislation would enact federal requirements for safe
storage, penalties for violators and a grant program to help states establish their own safe storage law. the secure firearms storage act would require firearms, importers, manufacturers and dealers to safely store their entries and as well as individual gun owners to use standards that in fact have been endorsed by the n.r.a. safely securing firearms prevents theft and unintended use of lawfully acquired and possessed owned guns. in 2016 alone, 238,000 firearms were reported stolen in the united states. these kinds of laws are championed by michael and christen song because they know these laws work.
their child, their young son was accidentally killed by a gun stored in a friend's closet, accessible to those two teens without any impediment. and in many cases, including sandy hook, safe gun storage could have prevented mountains of grief and heartache and a river of tears. gun owners who fail to safely store or secure their firearms must be held accountable, as this law would do in honor of ethan song. and of course high-capacity magazines, which is to say magazines that can fire more than ten rounds, will help stop these mass shootings, and they should be banned as well. there are other measures, and
my colleagues have talked about them to keep gun dealers honors, to prevent hate crimes, to stop domestic and gender-based violence, to require development of smart gun technology. and that is why also on smart gun technology with senator murphy, i introduced the safety act which would encourage manufacturers to develop and consumers to purchase smart gun technology. this cause, smart gun technology, is actually one i championed as attorney general, and a number of the gun manufacturers, at least one agreed to implement it, and he was nearly drummed out of business by other gun manufacturers at the time. the firearm industry and
responsible gun owners should already be embracing innovations that have been developed, inventions that are feasible. smart gun technology that has already created locks that prevent accidental shootings and fingerprint scans that can disable firearms for anyone but their lawful owners. we need t harness the power of american innovation and create smarter, safer firearms. there is no reason to wait another day before passing these laws. we know that there is a political movement that is gaining strength through groups like moms demand action. every town for gun safety. students demand action. brady. giffords. the coalition against gun violence. the connecticut coalition.
and newtown action alliance, sandy hook promise. so many of these organizations coming together to create a seismic change, a at the time -- a tectonic groundswell of support. it's the reason we are here tonight and the reason the president is even talking about a measure or set of measures that will help prevent gun violence. we can do this. we can pass this measure. the president can stand up to the gun lobby and the n.r.a. the republican leadership have it within their power to see this moment made possible by the american public expecting and demanding that we act and saying to us enough is enough.
truly, enough is enough. on december 14, 2012, i pledged that i would do everything i could do to make sure no more parents have to bury their children as did those courageous and strong families in newtown who have come to us asking for action, as have survivors and loved ones from countless other families. no more parents should have to bury children as a result of preventable gun violence. i have fought as long and hard as i know how, and i will continue because we are not going away, we are not giving up, and nothing could persuade me to break that pledge. i have been proud to stand with my colleague, chris murphy, in our partnership as a team that harought together so many of
our colleagues who are speaking tonight. the only question before us now is how long will it take? how many more children and lives will be lost? how many more communities have to be added to that dreaded list of mass shootings? how many more suicides, including veteran suicides? 20 every day. not all from gun violence, but many of them due to firearms. how many more grieving families? how many more lives lost needlessly and senselessly? i thank my colleagues for being here tonight. we all hope the answer is fewer. we all hope that lives will be saved, as many lives as possible as quickly as possible, and that is why i have been willing to engage in discussions with the white house as well as my
colleagues, along with my colleague chris murphy and others who are here, senator manchin and senator toomey. that is why we have spared no effort and left no stone unturned. how many more days will go by before we fulfill our duty? the answer really should be none , and we all have an obligation to fulfill our constitutional duty as a congress to act, whether or not the president does, but to the president and to the republican leadership my message is lead. lead or get out of the way. please lead or at least give us a vote on h.r. 8, on universal
background checks, on emergency risk protection orders, on commonsense steps that we know work. these measures work. they save lives. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. ms. hirono: madam president, our country demands that we take action to confront the crisis of gun violence. 100 people die from gun violence in our country every single day. if 100 people die every day because of any -- died every day because of any other single cause, even republicans would call it an epidemic and demand that we do something about it. think about it. the lives of 100 men, women, and children cut tragically short by someone using a firearm every
single day in our country. some of them are killed sitting in churches. others while shopping for school supplies, and others while sitting in their classrooms. some are targeted because they are latino, jewish, muslim, black, gay, or transgender. some are killed for reasons we will never know. victims of gun violence come from all walks of life and different circumstances, but they were all struck down by someone with a firearm. firearms which in many cases were purchased legally because we have gaping loopholes in our gun safety laws. firearms which even when purchased legally too often end up in the hands of someone who has absolutely no business owning a gun. there are a lot of steps that congress can take, and my colleague just articulated some of them, to combat the crisis of
n violence in our country. we can ban assault weapons. we can ban high-capacity magazines. we can look at requiring gun licensing at the national level. each of these steps would make a major difference in combating gun violence, but i acknowledge that they would be controversial and are unlikely to pass or to become law in the current congress. but there is one step that the senate can take right now to confront the gun violence epidemic in our country. the senate can take up and pass h.r. 8, the bipartisan, bipartisan background checks act of 2019 which passed the house nearly seven months ago. this legislation passed with a strong bipartisan vote to close the loopholes in our background check system. it would require checks not just for firearms purchased from licensed dealers but also from
unlicensed individuals at gun shows between friends, between most unrelated people. some people say that won't do much and that it will just be a drop in the bucket, but when that bucket is overflowing, as it is now, with the blood of innocent people, anything we do will help curb this epidemic. at a time when our country is deeply divided on so many issues, it is noteworthy that 90% of americans support universal background checks. 90%. the american public knows a sensible gun safety bill when they see one, even if too many members of congress remain blind. sensible gun safety laws work. i know that because hawaii, which has some of the most restrictive gun laws on the books, is, according to the center for disease control, the state with the lowest rate of
death by firearms in the nation. anyone in hawaii wanting to buy a gun, whether from a licensed dealer or private seller, must apply for a permit in their county. they cannot receive a permit unless they pass a background check. the permit applicant has to sign a waiver allowing the county to access their mental health records, and of course there is a check of the federal national instant criminal background check system, or nics. if they fail a background check, they can't purchase a gun. they are reported to law enforcement and prosecuting officials in the state in case they try again to purchase a gun. being this careful about who can own a gun has resulted in hawaii being the most gun-safe state in the country. in hawaii, the c.d.c. reported 2.5 firearms deaths per 100,000 people for 2017, the most recently available data.
compare that to texas with 12.4 deaths per 100,000, or kentucky with 16.2 deaths, or, sadly, alabama with 22.9 deaths per 100,000 people. of course, there are many factors that play in these statistics, but we can't deny that being more careful about who gets to own a gun is contributeing -- is a contributing factor. it's common sense. to be clear, hawaii is not a state devoid of guns. we have nearly as many guns as we do population. hunting is one of the most popular outdoor activities in hawaii. some hunting seasons in our state are year-round. we have numbers of shooting ranges and gun clubs in our state, and both they and our hunting opportunities are important drivers of hawaii's tourism economy. clearly, gun safety, gun
ownership, and hunting are compatible. hawaii is showing the way. so, knowing that we can balance commonsense gun safety laws with responsible gun ownership like we do in hawaii, we are left with a few simple questions. why hasn't the senate passed h.r. 8, a bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases? why has the senate let this house-passed bill languish for 200 days? why is the senate failing the american people? in normal times, we would have a majority leader who would rush to pass a law favored by 90% of the people of our country. in normal times, we would be anxious to restrict firearms ownership to those that can pass a background check, just as we are anxious to ban flavored e-cigarettes that expose children to addictive products.
but these are not normal times. we have a majority leader sitting around waiting for donald trump to tell him what to do or doing the bidding of the n.r.a. instead of waiting around for the erratic, inconsistent, always changing his mind donald trump to make up his mind, we should live so long, the majority leader should take action. it's time for the senate to reassert its role as a separate branch of government, stand up to the n.r.a., and pass h.r. 8. it's been 200 days. 100 people a day die in our country by firearms. do the math. that's 2,000 firearm deaths since the house passed the bill. it's way past time for the senate to do something, but if we wait for the majority leader and the president to summit the 42 to act, we are treated to a familiar refrain from the n.r.a.
and those in congress. you have heard it before -- guns don't kill people. people kill people. well, a person with a gun killed 58 people at a music festival in las vegas. a person with a gun killed 49 people at the pulse nightclub in orlando. a person with a gun killed 32 people at virginia tech. a person with a gun killed 27 people, including little children, at sandy hook elementary. a person with a gun killed 17 people at marjory stoneman douglas high school in parkland, florida. a person with a gun killed 11 people at the tree of life synagogue in pittsburgh. a person with a gun killed 26 people at the first baptist church in southerland springs, texas. and a person with a gun killed nine people at the mother emmanuel a.m.e. church in charleston, south carolina. and since the beginning of august, a total of 113 people have been killed in mass
shootings across the country, including where a person with a gun killed 22 people at a walmart in el paso. a person with a gun killed nine people outside a bar in dayton, ohio. and a person with a gun killed seven people in a shooting spree across odessa-mid lapd, texas. -- midland, texas. obviously, people with guns kill people. it is a sad day in our country when elementary school children have to practice drills on how to escape a mass shooter. and our country's continuing tragedy of these deaths has resulted in an entire industry of companies that come to schools and they will tell the schools we can build you a safe school. we could end up with citadels for schools instead of the places of learning that they
should be. that is what's happening in our country. it's past time to retire the n.r.a.'s old canard that guns don't kill, it's people that kill. it's people with guns that kill people. it's time for us to act. madam speaker, i yield the floor. mr. menendez: i rise today to once again call for this body to act on commonsense gun safety legislation. time and time again we've witnessed unfathomable carnage at the hands of assault-style rifles and high-capacity maggss, a horror movie we've
seen over and over. as america grieves the senseless loss of life, the n.r.a. tightens its grip on the president and the majority leader. i'm heartened by the grassroots movement that's grown across our nation in recent years. and likewise, i'm encouraged by the many polls indicating that americans overwhelmingly want action. americans are tired of having their voices drowned out by the n.r.a. they're tired of a congress that fears n.r.a. attack ads more than the next mass shooting. and they're tired of being told time and time again that this is a mental health problem or a violent video game problem when we know it is a gun problem. it's time for real action in the senate. earlier this year the house of representatives passed universal background checks for every gun sale, the kind of measure that would have stopped the shooter
in midland, texas, from bypassing a criminal background check if it had been in law. just last week the house judiciary committee passed the keep americans safe act, my legislation to limit the sale of ammunition to no more than ten rounds. we know that a magazine that holds 30 or 60 or even 100 rounds of ammunition like the dayton shooter did is not for hunting or self-defense or protecting your home. high-capacity magazines are designed for one thing, and that's high-capacity killing. it's true no single law is going to prevent all gun deaths, but it's also true we can prevent some gun deaths and reducing magazine size is a proven way to do so. what will it take for the majority leader to take action? i'm not the only one asking this question. indeed, on september 3 "the washington post" published an he
editorial calling on the majority leader to act. they asked, quote, would any volume of bloodshed convince the kentucky republican that congress faces a moral imperative to act? alongside their call for action, the "post" also published a staggering list of names, names of fellow americans who lost their lives in mass shootings, many involving high-capacity ammunition. i'd like to read as many of these names as i can in my allotted time today. casey bernall, steven kernel, corey duputer, kelly fleming, matthew kekter, daniel mouser, daniel rorbach, william sanders, rachel scott, eye isaih schultz, john tomlin, lauren
townsend, kyle valaquez, jennifer bragg, janice haverty, lewis shavell, paul morsal, cheryl troy, craig wood, derek broom, chase laseer, neva rogers, chanel rosebare, alice white, naomi eversall, marion fisher, lena miller, mary liz miller, anna may stolfus, russ abadala albadein. christopher james bishop, ryan
turner, nicole r. white, beverly flynn, janet jorgenson, gary joy, john mcdonald, gary shark, angie shuster, diane trent, maggie webb, pa rvine ali, mark henry bernard, maria sonya bernard, hung mao, roberta king, delores yf idal. michael grant cayhill, justin michael decrow. frederick green, jason dean hunt, amy s. krueger, aaron thomas, michael s. pierson,
victoria soho, allison wyatt. madam president, my time is almost up, but i haven't even reached the names of those who died after newtown nearly seven years ago. so i'll close with one last point. it's hardbreaking to know that some of the people on this list -- it's heartbreaking to know that some of the people on this list might be alive today if we only had the courage to pass the keep america safe act or to establish universal background checks or a new assault weapons ban. and it's just as heartbreaking to know that more names of more sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues will end up on this list in the days ahead should the senate continue to fail to act. that's the truth. that's the truth,
madam president. every day without action is another day closer to america's next mass shooting. the time to save lives is now. with that, i ask for unanimous consent to enter "the washington post" entire list of mass shooting victims into the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. menendez: at this point i yield the
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