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tv   Senate Democrats Meet with Gun Violence Victims  CSPAN  March 7, 2018 3:59pm-6:03pm EST

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just another lying politician. my final example, though, is that i gave a tie with dolphins on it to my dad that wear when he testified as an expert witness in the lawyers would challenge his qualifications. he thought those lawyers were sharks. and he was amused by the fact that pods of dolphins can chase away sharks. now he doesn't really think -- >> we're going to break away from this recorded program and take you live back up to capitol hill. senate democrats are are about to sit down with gun violence victims here at the capitol to talk about the recent shooting in parkland, florida and other gun violence questions and stories. the democratic policy and communications committee hosted the event. can you see there on your screen to the right, that's senator dianne feinstein. she is sitting down. there is senator blumenthal. looks like they are grabbing chairs. we saw senator caine. i think we saw senator nelson.
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we will take this live for you here now on c-span 3.
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good afternoon. call the hearing to order. and first want to thank everyone that is here. we wish we didn't have to be here. we wish this was not an issue that had touched your lives and so many people across our country. we are doing hearing because we are -- it is our understanding
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that other formal hearings happening in the senate will not include your voices and we believe your voices are very, very important. before making a few opening comments, though, i want to give colleagues here an opportunity to introduce you. we are going to introduce all of our witnesses. first we do know that people are juggling schedules and they care deeply about being here and so before any opening comments and i should also thank david who is here by skype. thank you, so much. and also, we thank everyone joining us live and we hope that you will join us also in pushing for action. let's start senator nelson, obviously a very key leader and certainly someone who has been living and breathing what's been happening recently. i would like to ask senator nelson to introduce david and as
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well as fred. and then other colleagues introducing witnesses from their state as well. >> we're going to hear first from david hogg, there on the screen. david is a student at marjory stoneman douglas high school. he is a survive of the shooting that is just three weeks from today. since then he has become an avid advocate for gun violence prevention. david and his fellow classmates have taken this movement and they've made it the number one issue that they are talking about nationally. while david was the target of an ugly conspiracy, and that
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conspiracy came from the far right, he has not let them stop him from continuing to speak out on the need for legislation that prevents gun violence from taking more lives. david, i have met with so many of the students such as david, and they are really impressive. next we will hear from fred g gutenberg. and fred is standing because fred cannot talk about this sitting down. because fred tragically lost his daughter, jamie, at the high school shooting. fred, on behalf of all of our colleagues, you know how we feel
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about your loss, and the folks sitting up here at this table want to get something done about it. and i think it's telling that these witnesses have not been invited for official senate hearings. and we have to do this as the minority. that's telling in itself. what fred has done is he has taken this devastating loss and he has turned it into a platform for advocacy on gun violence prevention and the need to protect students and alumni from that school who are leading this movement. and i can tell you, he's had a number of threats against him just like david hogg has add conspiracy directed at him. and so we really look forward to hearing from you both.
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>> thank you so much. and to introduce fran seen wheeler, we have senator blumenthal and senator murphy to each make a comment of introduction. thank you. >> i want to thank all of the participants, survivors, in today's hearing and my colleagues for giving us this opportunity to hear. francine wheeler we met about five years ago. i wish we had met in a different way for a different reason. just over five years ago, francine and her husband, david, lost their dean son ben in an act of unspaeakable grief and horror that we now know in a
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pernicious kind of short hand as sandy hook. and both my colleague, chris murphy, and i were there that day and for days afterward speaking with francine and david and other moms and dads and loved ones. who suffered that loss. what impressed me so deeply in the days and weeks and years afterward, is their courage and strength in advocating with grace and dignity and incredible courage and strength for common sense measures to stop gun violence. in the face of that unspeakable loss, they came forward and spoke truth to power truly in these halls in the months afterward and we came close to
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steps that would have helped save lives. sandy hook became the first of that pernicious short hand for other mass slaughters that occurred afterward. orlando, sutherland springs, the list goes on and now parkland. i want to thank both francine and david and all of the sandy hook moms, dads, loved ones for their advocacy. we have no higher rate of mental illness than other modern countries. we have a rate of gun violence that is multiples, off the charts, as senator murphy and i have said repeat liedly, and congress has been complicit in its action, an aider and abetter in those deaths. so dealing with this issue is something that should be before one of our committees, the
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judiciary committee, for example, where i sit, aught to be having a hearing on it and yet, we will not be hearing from you and and senator graham and i will be modeling on one of the statutes passed by sandy hook but strengthened during it. it would be a red flag that would provide for red flag process to take guns away from dangerous people, prevent people with serious mental illness or other reasons that they are dangerous to themselves or others from buying or having a weapon. and the statutes passed as a result of the advocacy from francine and others in connecticut have worked. there is a record of their working and that's the record that we should be heeding in this body through their advocacy
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and their courage and strength which should be a model for us all. thank you for being here, francine. >> thank you. thank you, very much. senator murphy, would you like to give a -- >> we know we want to get directly to the testimony here. let me just thank francine for being here. for what she and her husband, david, have done the past few years. they moved to where there were good public schools and a yard where children could run around and be safe. they remained very much connected to new york. and i feel like i know ben by all the stories i've heard from the wheelers and have other friends. one story i'm fond of is that when they go back to new york, they would ride the 7 train every single time. and as francine notes, ben was more interested in the subways
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than he was in the museums and zoos. that sounds familiar, too. that sounds like a lot of our kids and grand kids. that's a reminder of why we are here today. by the grace of god, had we not gone through a tragedy like this and your testimony today will help us guide the way forward. >> thank you very much. and i'm going to turn now to senator caine, tim caine, for our next two witnesses to give a brief introduction and then we have three other colleagues as well and then we will certainly want most importantly to hear from all of you. >> thank you, senator. thank you a all of you. i want to introduce you to two amazing virginia families deeply scar bid gun violence but have taken the experiences and used them to the benefit of others. lori is the mom of young daughter emily who was a survivor of the 2007 shooting at virginia tech. i met lori the day after the shooting. in april of 2007.
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lori has been passionate and is now the founder and director of the coalition to stop gun violence in virginia. after lori's daughter was shot and a long and painful recovery process, lori grew horrified by the lax gun laws and we have other scarring tragedies in virginia sadly since then. but lori has not only been an odd vadvocate before legislatur but also a friend with con solidarity and others. i was in hosouthampton last wee and lori was there. i appreciate her leadership, respect her, and glad she is here. i want to welcome the bose family. mr. bose, this is a family who lost their son, joe. joe was a youngster, energy the nettic jung man from northern virginia who was a student at
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hampton. in hampton virginia and visiting friends at old dominion university across the water in norfolk in october 2015 when he was shot and killed. according to news reports at the time, joe had dreams of graduating from hampton with a journalism degree and pursuing music maybe as producer or radio. he was passionate about social justity a justice and he canvassed for barack obama in the 2008 election. he canvassed though he wasn't yet a voter. he was excited, looking to cast his first vote for a president in the 2016 election. would he have turned 22 the day after christmas in 2016. the killer perpetrated this crime is still at large. kim has become a very outspoken advocate for gun safety legislation and kim, to you and alec and mr. bose, thank you so much for sharing your experience and advocating for others.
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>> we really appreciate you being here today, chief stuwenski unanimously confirmed by county council in 2016. he served more than 25 years in the prince george's county police department. a department that serves about 1 million residents. the county holds gun buyback programs and young adult outreach programs to reduce local gun violence. we look forward to hearing your comments about those experiences and sadly, chief recently lost one of his officers who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence incidence involving a firearm. we are honored to have the corporal's wife here, tammy,
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with us today. as well. and we thank you for his service to the community. so important. welcome. we are pleased to have you. and appreciative to have you. and senator van holland is here. i was speaking for you and now you may speak for yourself. i knew you were coming and i just introduced the chief. i also know you have another witness as well. katrina. so i will let you make a comment about both of them. >> thank you. and thank you, senator stabenow and olson for bringing us to where we need to act.
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chief stuwenski is a chief of a very large county about a million people. right outside of the district of columbia, prince george's county. he has been very effective in community policing and also been a leader in the effort to develop common sense gun safety measures. i am pleased in the state of maryland we have implemented many gun safety measures. we're not island, and as a result, if you look at baltimore city, for example, the number of guns used in crimes, 60% come from out of state. but thank the chief for being here and for his testimony. we are working on a number of measures. and katrina kickbush is a terrific educational leader. a teacher, special education teacher, serving in baltimore. gr graduated drake university then
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to gallaudet university. for the past eighters who worked at wolf street academy with charter status where she has been a very effective and beloved special education teacher. so thank you for being here to offer us the perspective of someone who is facing these issues in the classroom and being such a wonderful teacher to our kids. >> thank you so pch and last, certainly not least, i will turn to senator wyden. you should know when we talked about this hearing, senator wyden immediately approached me and said, i was in the community at a meeting with a passionate young woman who i would love to have come and be a voice from oregon. so we are so glad you could be here. senator wyden? >> senator stabenow, thank you so much. to you and to senator nelson for your leadership and you're absolutely right. eva jones stood up at a town hall meeting that i had a few days guy in tiny and rural
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odell, oregon. population 2500. and suffice it to say, her presentation was just riveting. and i thought it was important for our colleagues to hear it. and the essence of what eva said, and i couldn't begin to do it justice, is she essentially said, we students have had it. we are tired of trying to find cabinets that we might fit into. in order to hide. she mentioned the beautiful windows at her high school. and said, we think about which ones we aught to be walking in front of because if we go to a particular window, we might be susceptible to being shot and killed. and at that meeting in odell,
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you just kopt hecouldn't hear a drop. i want to close with what eva said. eva said, my guess is there are other students around this country saying the same thing. she said, you know, i'm a senator -- excuse me, i'm a student. and what i have to say really doesn't matter. because i'm not an adult. and i'm not a voter. and we talked about all the ways in which she could build support for common sense measures to counter gun violence. and i'm not sure she ever thought that she would be before a group of some of the most influential senators to describe specifically how she feels and what she wants us to do. but for all the students across this country, for saying to themselves, job wants to pay attention, nobody wants to listen to us, eva, you're
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speaking for them today and you're here because oregonians saw that yours was a voice that was going to help us make the changes we need. >> thank you, senator wyden. and let me officially now that we have introduced everyone, make an opening comment as senator nelson as my co-chair to do that, then opening comment from a woman who has been incredible leader for years as it relates to common sense gun laws and so i will turn to senator feinstein. but then we will hear from david. and we appreciate all of you and your patience. i want to thank all of you again whose eyes have been forever changed by gun violence. we are here today to listen, but you've today experience this in ways that nobody hwants to have
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to experience this. we are grateful that you are willing to share your feelings and your views. i particularly want to thank the young people who have galvanized people to focus now on what is happening in schools and communities for your energy, your urgency and your passion. and your voices, the things to come, the march to come, the other efforts are incredibly important in moving us forward to get action. we all know that today's young people were born after columbine. when you think about it, they've never lived in a time where they didn't have to worry about their own schools joining the heart breaking list. red lake, minnesota. nickel mines, virginia. virginia tech. sandy hook. roseburg, oregon. kentucky, parkland, florida. and beyond the horrific headlines we know that far too
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many communities in michigan and across the country are facing violence everyday. children can't go to the park. can't ride their bicycle to the corner store or even maybe do their homework or watch tv in their living room because of a worry of shot coming in through the window. i'm from michigan, and i understand and appreciate our wonderful hunt aeng outdoor heritage and that's how i grew up. and i know we can take common sense gun actions to keep our children and our communities safe while respecting legal gun ownership. we can start with universal background checks. one recent poll found that 97% of people surveyed support ba background checks for all gun buyers as the first step. and i want to arm our teachers. not with guns, but textbooks, own computers, and pencils, and support staff.
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like school social workers, nurses, and counsellors. ending gun violence won't be easy, change never is. however, seeing everybody here today, gives me hope and i know it gives me colleagues hope as well. from students to parents to teachers to law enforcement officials to lawmakers, we are here today to say we've had enough. we can do better. for our children. we must do better for our children. and it is time for congress to act. so thank you for joining us and i want to turn for a moment to senator nelson again as co-chair. >> we are all bound by these tragedies. and of course you all know that we, unfortunately, have had more than our share in florida. just in the last two years. fort lauderdale airport and now, the high school. i'm sure everybody within the
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sound of our voice is going to participate in the march 24th march in some city in this country. so let's get on and let's hear from our witnesses. >> thank you so much. and somebody who has been at the front of the line in leading for our country on the issues of gun violence and gun safety, senator dianne feinstein. >> thank you very much. i want to congratulate the people at this table for your strength and for your ability to even be here. i was thinking if i were a mother or sister or brother, i don't know where i would be. but i want you to know this, i came here in 1993 with a view to get rid of assault weapons. i succeeded initially in a bill that lasted for ten years. it did reduce the incidents.
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it did reduce the deaths. and it did reduce the injuries. but at sunset after ten years. senator murphy and i and many of the people at this table put together a bill after sandy hook. and here's what we thought. we thought, you know, 6 and 7-year-old children, this -- something like this could never happen, but it did happen. and since sandy hook, there have been 200 school shootings. there have been 400 youngsters and adults shot and or killed and it goes on. and we live in a country that is 4% of the population of the world that has 40% of the guns. and the guns regardless are falling into the wrong hands. and when the guns are military weapons of war, with special ability to shoot straight, to
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have the kind of bullets and velocity that do terrible harm to the human body, we have a real problem. and so i just want you to know that we have rewritten the assault weapons legislation. it will take out of commission 205 assault weapons and it will permit 2,258 rifles and shotguns that are used for hunting and other legal purposes throughout this nation. and i don't intend to stop. one way or another, we're going to get weapons of war offer of the streets of america. so be strong, ladies and gentlemen. please, know that you have a group that's supporting you and we intend to change the nature of gun use in this country. thank you very much. thank you. >> thank you, so much, senator
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feinstein. david, we're so glad you could join us through the wonders of technology. and i know you're back at school. but your voice is very important. we want to have an opportunity to hear you from today. so please, please proceed. >> sure. so to begin with, i'm just going to talk about parkland a little bit. parkland represent the american dream. parkland is the last place that i would ever expect something like this to happen. and in all honesty, we are so -- we have been so to this kind of thing in the united states. we just have started to prepare and the fact we are even having to think about what to do in a.c.t. an acti an active shooter scenario in our school, is the state that we have been brought to. we have come to the point where we say we will do things, act like we are going to do things
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for reelections, and then nothing happens. now is the time that we need to take action. because how many more times, how many more children need to be slaughtered? i want to get across five main points that i think really summarize what he are trying to accomplish here across both party lines. the first one is that fixing the funding for the research into gun violence because under the dickey amendment right now it is basically impossible for them to do any research into gun violence in america. that is just insane considering the fact that we have such a large governmental organization that is so well-funded and we're not able to actually do resear nooch this massive problem. that is taking thousands of american lives every year. it is insane to think about it that way. the second is the digitalization of gun sales. right now, the atf, they have to have all gun sales and records that they have are legally required to be on paper. that makes it hard for them to find many of these guns. many records are lost, for
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example, during katrina, many gun stores lost records. they flooded. if they are digitized and saved in a different or multiple locations, it wouldn't have happened. and also is easier for research. third is universal background collection. there is widespread support for universal background checks. it is something i think we could push through on both parties and is sensible gun reform and would hopefully make some act of preventing these individuals from getting guns. and the fourth one is -- sorry. the fourth one is creating a high capacity magazine ban. we have individuals that are able to get bullets and bullets made to shred flesh. they are made to go into the body and tear ospread out and
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tear out as many veins as possible. the fourth as you said earlier, personally what i would like to see is some kind of reform with assault weapons. i think this continued for too long. if you believe it is an assault weapons ban, that's great. but any reform along the lines to prevent huge guns from getting into the hands of wrong individuals, i could be in support of that. and i think a lot of people need to understand that the government is not trying to take your guns. we are supporting the second amendment. just limitations on the second amendment on the same way there is the limitations on first. same way you can't yell fire in the crowded theater. we don't think you should get a gun, if you are mentally untable, a criminal record, or someone mentally unstable. simple as that. this is common sense to push through on now is the time to come together, not as democrats or republicans, but as americans, and save these children's lives that are our future. thank you for listening to me today. >> thank you so much. and you are right, we have to
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work together. that's how things get done. even though we are here through the democratic policy committee we will work with republicans without a doubt colleagues to get the right thing done. you can count on that. and i want to take a moment, senator schumer, democratic leader, has joined us. thank you so much for your ongoing leadership over the years. >> thank you, debbie. i want to thank mr. hogg and all of those who came here particularly those who lost loved ones, members of the panel. it is so hard to do something like this. and what you are doing instead of cursing the darkness or the horrible and evil that befell you, that inspires us. we thank you, mr. hogg, and everybody else. this caucus stands very strong in trying to do something about guns. i've been trying a long time. i was the author of the brady
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law. dianne feinstein was the author of the assault weapons ban. there are tens of thousands of people walking the streets who would have been dead. we don't know who they are. but it happened. but unfortunately, they plucked holes in that legislation. we stand for universal background checks. we stand for assault weapons dealing with assault weapons. and we stand for protection orders. and those are the three issues and i talked to some students and some others who i've met that we are going to push and push and push until we get them done. because you inspire us but more importantly it's a necessity, a necessity in america, to try and deal with this. we will fight hard to do it. that's why i came by to assure all of you how strongly we feel. thank you. >> thank you so much. thank you.
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>> mr. gutenberg, thank you. >> first, if anybody wants to know why after losing my daughter only three weeks ago why i'm optimistic, it's because i've gotten to know david and the other kids at the school and they give me optimism. david, i'm just proud of you. thank you for doing this today. >> yes, thank you, david. >> so everyone fully understands why i'm standing. these acts of violence happen way too often. and after they happen, unfortunately, the response is always way too comfortable, way too polite and way too temporary. i have no interest in being polite. i have no interest in being comfortable or making anyone else comfortable we we talk about it. no one should be comfortable talking about the death of my kid. i have no interest in being temporary. i know i can speak for myself but for these kids as well. we're not going anywhere. so this is a debate, this is the time and we are getting this done.
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three weeks ago on february 14, valentine's day, day of love, started in my house like any other. with chaos. trying to get kids ready for school. trying to get the dogs taken care of. my wife and i to do what we needed to do. we are making sure weefr got everything done. my wife and i, we need to get out of the house. my kids were running late. the one thing i remember about that morning is my kids just running out. the last time i ever saw my daughter, i don't remember if i said i love you. i don't remember. it haunts me until this very minute. if you want to know why i'm here, that's why i'm here. i cannot remember -- i'm sorry. my kids left for school that day like any other. only one of them make it home. my daughter, jamie, was
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murdered. some folks like to say these guns are used for hunting. so my daughter was hunted at school. on valentine's day. and i cannot remember even if i told her that morning if i loved her. we are forever changed. i'm no longer a dad to jesse and jamie. p my wife, intensely private, not only lost her baby girl but it happened in a way that's horrific and public. in life i've always told my wife and kids that as long as we wake in the morning and those we care about are safe and healthy and we go to sleep at night and everyone we care about is still safe and healthy, that's a good day. everything else in between is just a bunch of stuff we need to deal with. unfortunately we've been having bad days now. jesse, my son, and my wife, jen, have to go on without jamie in our house. our family and friends who live for her voice and spirit will not feel it ever again. it'll be different. her humor, craziness, energy, feistiness, it will be missed.
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my baby girl was the energy in the room and in our house. she was the energy in every room she went into. our new normal will be a lot quieter. i miss will sound of her laughter. her dog talk, don't ask. her ability to not stop talking and she always had so much to say. they were the sounds that gave our life meaning and our house energy. jamie, lived life. she was the energy in the room. she was always made her presence known. jamie was a competitive dancer. that was her passion. two week ends ago was the first competition, always an event in our house and something we looked for it. rather than being at competition weekend jamie my wife and i were instead visiting her at a cemetery. the day after this murder i attended a vigil in parkland. i was asked if i wanted to speak. i said, yes. i did not prepare but i had a
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lot i felt i needed to say. this is the beginning of a public life. my life is now forever changed as my public role continues to evolve. i have dedicated the rest of my life to fighting for the cause of gun safety and i won't stop. no other parent should ever go through what my family and 16 other families are going through. what is unfathomable is how this is not unique to us. this has become something that is becoming way too common. this time the gun crowd messed with the wrong community, wrong kids and wrong dad. my kids are everything to me and i intend to being a part of this gun lobby. simply too many shootings and too many lost. over my crash course this couple of weeks, a couple of things have become clear to me. gun lobby is too much influence over lawmakers, not necessarily you, regarding decisions on our safety. the gun lobby uses the language of mental health and language of
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paranoia to insight fear and scare people into the belief they need to have guns and any attempt to put normal limits on that as we would with anything else is the start after government overreach that must be stopped. i have quickly come to realize that most legislators are not leaders. they follow the mob or the money. it is clear to me that even though we elect our lawmakers with the expectation that they will be strong leaders, on this issue, most of them are followers. the gun lobby talks about the second amendment. i happen to believe in the second amendment just not the afterwardized version expressed by law makers who follow it. unfortunately this bastardized version led to the weapons being widely available and as a result my daughter has been murdered. she has a rights as well. she add right to life. she add right to be a believer in the second amendment. now she doesn't have that.
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no one should be afraid of getting shot for being in school or some other public place. because our lawmakers will not do the right thing out of the fear of the gun lobby we need to break this lobby. how can we do it? pierce the aura of strength and take away the money. in florida even after this mass murder, too many legislators were opposed to any gun legislation and are bowing to the gun lobby list. a quick update, in florida, we're about to pass what i would call the bear minimum in legislation, but the fact we are getting this done in florida, against the wishes of the nra, that's a big deal. the only reason that gun lobby would be opposed to the most minimal effort getting proposed is that it pierces the aura of strength that they have. once legislators start gun safety legislation, they look at that as a loss for lobby and they figure other losses will follow. the most significant hits to the gun lobby are led by corporate
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america as they are heroic. they are doing two things. first, terminating direct business relationships with the lobby to end financial benefits to the members and to weaken the lobby financially. second, they are ending the retailing of weapons of war and simply not waiting on law makers to change the age of 21. they are doing it on their own. shame on the weak-kneed lawmakers, i apologize, who can't cut to common sense measures as well. corporate america will lead and show you can take on the lobby and not pay a price. ledge lators will watch and eventually follow. in addition to changing gun culture in this country again and never led by corporate america but one i predict legislators will eventually follow we need to get the nra to open its books. we need to show america where they get their money and where it goes. people need to understand that the nra effort is not done with the safety of americans as its main concern and most likely more concerning purpose. this will not be easy. it will take time.
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just an idea i had after going back and forth with an nra member about why he should be able to keep his weapons, every owner should have to be licensed, register every weapon and by insure ounance on that w commensurate with the risk. so if someone wants to tell me they should have guptns. go ahead. like a car, the more risk your gun has, the more your insurance. money tends to change behavior so why not change the behavior through money. >> make sure the process of owning a gun includes responsibility. the lobby would be against these common sense efforts and so would the legislators who support the lobby. this alone gets to the bs about this being a second amendment issue. as to kids of parkland say, we need to call bs from now on. anyone who has legislator that will not fight for their safety, we need fire them. that's the end of my prepared remarks.
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i want to bring to your attention something and i'm not sure how many of you are aware of video the nra put out two days ago. they put a target on all of your backs. nra, a lobby, that finances campaigns, that forces legislation put out a video basically saying your time is running out. and here is dana loush in the video talking to legislators who don't support her, members of the media who she called out by name, members of the acting community and sports figures telling everybody if they don't get behind the nra, their time is running out. and she had an hour glass at the end of her talking. she turns it over and said your time's up. a few days before this video, she had another video called a call to arms. i ask you a question, if this was put out by a terrorist organization, we would be raising the terror threat level
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in this country. why are we letting this lobby have anything to do in d.c.? i don't understand it. i apologize. >> you have nothing to apologize for. and we thank you for coming and for your powerful statement an your commitment. and we're here because we are standing with you. francine wheeler and beautiful ben, i love that picture. >> thank you. >> i live in sandy hook, connecticut. i'm a mother and a music teacher. i have three boys. the youngest is three. and the oldest is about to turn 15. our middle son -- sorry. our middle son, ben, wasn't the middle son when he was six. on december 14, 2012, i got him
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a hot chocolate at starbucks and dropped him off at school. i never saw him alive again. he was killed at sandy hook elementary school about a half an hour after i dropped him off. i'm not here to tell but that day or that week or the few months that followed. i want to tell you about the last five years. the five years after what was left of my family stood in the classroom at newtown high school and president obama hugged me. and wouldn't let go until i could catch my breath and stop crying. it's different this time because people are taking it personally, he said. but it wasn't different. i miss ben everyday. but some days are more awful. every time there's been a mass shooting since ben and his
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classmates and teachers were killed, our world is rocked again. we fought the urge to stay under the covers in the morning so many times now it's become a familiar struggle. every time i have to see the faces in the grocery store and their looks of weary care, concern and pity. every time my husband has to go to the office where his sympathetic and generous coworkers leave them alone until they can get a read on how he is doing. every time an administrator at my eldest son's school e-mails be texes, go out of their way, does he need space? does he need to talk? is he really okay? every time the hole in my heart, the size and shape of my 6-year-old son is opened once more regardless of how successful i may have been at patching it up until that point. after each one of these events,
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we're not the ones who really need the help. the ones who need the help are the fresh ranks of the grieving. the shattered family members left to sort out how to make sense of this insanity. and every single time the previous group moves one place further back and watches more families line up in front of them while they experience their own version of what i've related to you here. my argument for sensible gun legislation to change the course of these horrific tragedies is not a speculative fear of what might happen to me or my family. my argument lies in the earth. a few miles from my front door and our town cemetery, six years old forever. and i'm just one.
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just one mom in the expanding congregation of grief. please do something meaningful and serious. >> thank you, francine. lori. welcome. >> thank you. good afternoon. my name is lori us what ahaas a in richmond, virginia. i received a phone call from my then 19-year-old daughter with the words that changed everything. hi, mommy, i've been shot. my daughter, emily, who suffered two graze wounds to her head, was one of only seven to survive in her classroom of 18 students. 32 other students and staff were shot and killed that morning.
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17 others were injured like emily. and another half a dozen or so were injured jumping out a second-floor window to avoid the gunfire. >> emily kept local police on the line after cell phone she kept hidden from the shooter during the entire ordeal. she played dead as the shooter entered her room three times hiding the phone from him. her bravery that morning, little known to the outside world, was harolded by law enforcement as critical to their response. she is a hero to them, to her family, and to those who know her best. she is a teacher now. with a 2-year-old daughter and my -- and a grandson on the way. post traumatic stress disorder is difficult for anyone. but for those with little life
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experiences, it can be brutal and confusing. can you imagine students returning to the scene of their attempted murder? their attempted murder over and over and over again? as emily and the other injured students that did at virginia tech. and now and every day more and more students are doing the same. yet it pales beyond description for the suffering of any family whose loved one has been killed with a gun. please don't say they were lost. they were shot and killed. murdered by someone who should not have had a gun.
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regulation of firearms in this country is desperately needed to determine who, how, when and where someone is able to own and carry a firearm. inaction is arming the very people who harm our families. fueled by the guns everywhere, a greed of the gun rally, is epidemic that only sees a light of day when mass shooting shines the spotlight on this issue. every child, every child killed by a gun deserves a hearing. gun deaths are the third leading cause of death among american children. its a public health epidemic. number one job of those elected to office is to keep our citizens safe. and far too many of those
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elected have failed miserably at their job for far too long. they must be voted out of office. and i predict many of them will lose in the next election cycles. voters are fed off and will make this issue the litmus test who gets their vote. we have seen this time and again in virginia in recent years. governor mcauliffe, and attorney general hearing ran and won on guns statewide 2013. and it was no different this cycle. in november of 2017 guns was cited as number two issue as they picked up 17 seats in the house in a blue wave. candidates across virginia embraced gun violence prevention. ignored the millions of dollars spent by the gun lobry here in virginia in 2017 and committed to saving lives. governor northam appeared at the
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headquarters fairfax, virginia. they are all in office now. the power of the gun lobry is inflated when those running for office give credence to its influence. and another point. the nra does not deserve a table -- excuse me, the nra does not deserve a seat at the table when discussing solutions to gun violence. it's offensive to surviveors every where. they are a lobbyist organization making as much as possible. as my friend barbara parker has said our children should not be collateral damage for the profiting of the gun lobby. and that is exactly what has happened and is happening.
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gun dea deaths are on the incre and we may have officials support policies intended to reduce gun violence in all its forms. a history of violence is single biggest predictor of future violence. yet we do nothing to disarm those at risk. there is no single policy that is a solution. we need an array of approaches to begin to reduce this epidemic. extreme risk laws. prohibitions for those convicted of violent misdemeanors. trafficking laws to deplin itch the flow of illegal guns and to impacted communities. a ban on and regulation of weapons of war. resources for communities disproportionately effected by gun violence. permanent funding for the cdc. stripping liability protection for the gun manufacturers.
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and the very foundation upon which all of these prohibitions can be enforced, universal background checks. it is far too late for far too many families. but please make something happen so that our future, our children are safe from gun violence. every american deserves freedom, freedom from gun violence. thank you. >> thank you very, very much. kimber kimberly voss, welcome, and wie know your son is here. we really appreciate both of you coming. and we are very, very sorry for the loss of your son. >> thank you, senator. good afternoon my name is kimberly and mother of kevin
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bose, amazing man snatched away from us by the evil that often lurks behind the trigger of a gun. by a show of hands, how many of you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children you care about? how many of you have children that might be in college right now? how many of you have children that might have been on the dean's list this past semester? or how many have children that are interested in sports? i do want to see your hand. i really do. how about specifically la crosse? i smile because so many of your children are just like my son joseph. now, i ask you to close your eyes and major in your minds eye looking out of your bay window of your suburban home and seeing three police officers approaching your front door.
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now, your first thought might be, i wonder what must have happened in our neighborhood? a neighborhood of well educated families with senior citizens. only to open the door to receive the most devastating and life crushing news that anyone could ever receive. that my baby, my child, my la crosse player, my journalist, my best friend, one of the great loves of my life, that my child from my womb, my joseph, had been horrifically and senselessly shot and fatly wounded through absolutely no fault of his own. i immediately, and still am, incomplete denial. this can't be real. you must have the wrong person. not my incredible son. can't be. my son is a junior in college. doing so well in his classes.
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he just landed his second internship with the university. i just spoke with him and shared his excitement. this can't be real. for the remainder of the day i was on a mission to prove that the authorities had gotten it wrong. after many calls from the university and authorities after making hundreds of calls to my son joseph, with no answer, after driving to the old campus where the horrific went place, my mind shifted to a fog, a blur, and there it remains. i still can't believe this is real. i can't imagine life without him. i choose to believe that i'm living in a bad dream. it's easier for me that way. i can't imagine life without the natural provoking laughter, without the generous spirit, without his hugs and kisses, without his need to protect me from all invited glares or rude
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words. i can't imagine life without him telling me about his desire to be the next oprah winfrey or ed bradley, about his desire to vote in the next election. i can't imagine life without him telling me what he was going to name his children and how he would care for me as i grew older. i can't imagine life without seeing him push himself to be successful, constantly emailing professors to ensure his classes were on track. i ask for your patience in that i'm still unable to speak in the past tense. so many of my references to joseph tend to be in the present tense. you see, joseph is a magnetic, real and thoughtful person, always giving his last to his friends and his family. he's smart, kind, and always attempting to do the right thing for his friends, family, relatives, and even the needy person on the street. he truly is that kind of guy to
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his very core. i think what infuriates me the most is that some have made the assumptions that somehow joseph or others or anybody else that's been a victim to this have done something wrong. nothing could be further from the truth. he was doing exactly what you, your parents, your friends, your colleagues or children or family members could have been doing. he wasn't doing anything close to nefarious. please know, please know this, let others know. however, this is what makes the situation so incredibly sad and scary, that this could easily have been your family member. black, white, brown, male, female, old, or young. and it is also what makes it so hard for us to accept. i'll be the first to admit that because of my background and
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eliteist attitudes, holding a bachelors degree and jurist degree, admitted to the washington d.c. bar, that we were exempt from such a trosty. again, nothing is further from the shift. one shift in time it may not be my son joseph. you may shudder to see this may have been your child. but this was evil behind a gun with reckless abandon. so easily accessible to any and all that desire one. my family and i remain angry, confused, miand trying ever so
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hard to trust in the lord with all our hearts and lean not to our own understanding. i pray every day that god will wake me up from this nightmare. that my sons and daughter, joseph, alec and sharia will wake me up and say it was just a bad dream, mom, it's okay. please know and understand that this so easily could have been you or your family member. and we absolutely must do something to stem this horrific tide of gun violence before it hits your very own backyard. please, please, i am begging you, act now. your lives, your children's lives, your grandchildren's lives are depending on it. now i want to yield the rest of my time to my son. he has brief comments.
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and he's a mel ennial and we should hear from him as well. >> yes, absolutely. alec. >> thank you so much for allowing me to speak and giving me the time to say my peace. and i also want to thank my family for allowing me to represent them as well. i know i don't have a lot of time. i know you've heard a lot so i'll be brief. but the main point i want to make is that this doesn't end for us. this doesn't end for people like mist wheeler, mr. guttenberg or my mom, this doesn't end just when the news cycle says so. it doesn't end when the senate goes out of session. it does not end for us. i have to me my mom and dad tortured every day. i have to watch my grandmother in her '80s develop depression because she knows she out lived her grandson.
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i have to see my friends cry when they come over to my house bass my brother's picture is still up on the wall. now i know everybody, all the senators here probably agree with our sentiments, and i really do appreciate your guys allowing us to speak. and that's what makes it even more frustrating, to see your colleagues move on so quickly, openly, and say that they are going to move on to less press pressing issues. it's disgusting to me. and i want you all to know -- i'm sorry but i'm happy i'm pleased i'm optimistic to see we are all here. and i who ep thhope that you ald your colleagues and the nra and the pro lobbies and gun manufacturers know we aren't
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going anywhere. we are more energied than ever. that's all i have to say. thank you. >> thank you very much. that was a very powerful statement. and we are counting on you not going anywhere. chief, chief, thank you so much for the leadership role that you play and efforts you are involved in. and we appreciate you being here today. >> senator, it is a genuine privilege to be before you, all the other senators assembled. my name is hank stawinsk yierks ayierksy and i'm the chief of police in maryland. it offend the dignity that our children attend our schools in fear. my colleagues across this nation and i are the people who the community calls when they need
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help, when they need protection. i've experienced this myself. i have responded to these calls. and what is more, in my current role of chief, i have borne the responsibility for sending my officers in harms way to protect the children of whom we are speaking. and it is a concerning issue that my officers are responding to these threats now on a daily basis. men and women across this nation are entrusted of keeping the communities safe. it's a responsibility that i take particularly seriously, because i am not from somewhere else. prince george count has been my home. and i choose to serve as law enforcement officer only in
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prince george county. it's that personal responsibility that i feel that brings me here before you today. and it encourages me to work harder each and every day with my neighbors, with my community to develop the relationships that are critical to preventing these sorts of tragedies interest happening in the first place. in a nation of over 300 million, there are less than a million police officers. without the community and public trust, without their willingness to bring information forward, we cannot succeed. that is vital. i want you to know that i am comfortable in bridging gaps in creating partnerships. where i look to you for help and i know that i'll receive it, is in policy.
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and prince gorge county, 80 people were murdered last year and 69 of them were murdered with a handgun or a firearm. this problem is not specific to my community. and the tragedies of which we speak today are the acute pain our nation feels. but those cases are the chronic pain that my community feels day in and day out. they don't receive national attention. but i feel that. and my officers feel that. and my community feels that. and those cases are as important to those families as these cases to these families. and i urge you not to forget the chronic pain associated with gun violence in conjunction with the acute case that we feel in these national tragedies. make no mistake, gun violence impacts every community. 14 days ago, mujo, a brave
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officer of over 14 years, off duty, off duty, came to the aide of a neighbor, stood his ground in defense of that individual, a victim of domestic violence, and lost his life. had i am proud of him. but he should be with us today, serving my community. because, quite frankly only men and women of my insurance stu s constitution institution, and i'll introduce his wife tammy who is here to support me. >> thank you.
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>> one of the strongest people that it's been my privilege to meet in my career, she's here to support me as i endeavor to support you in your efforts and support her and the men and women of law enforcement and families across our nation. officer fatalities with firearms in this nation are up, i know you know that. that keeps me up at night. domestic violence situations are particularly dangerous and it led to the death of muju. most of the time in those situations when they become violent, law enforcement officers across this nation lose their lives to fire arms. and we are protected. we have body armor. we have training. and if that's the situation with the professionals who choose to protect, what hope of the ordinary citizen? from 2001 to 2012, more than
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6,000 women were killed in the united states victims of domestic violence. more than the number of our troops in the military serving during the same period in iraq and afghanistan. my undying respect to our military. but this is an epidemic. it is a public health crisis. and i agree with remarks of my other panelists. this is a problem that can be solved. to do this we need to close loop holes in our laws that you are so familiar with. federal law prohibits individuals of a crime of buying a gun, but only if he has a qualifying, meaning they are married or live together or share a child. despite the fact that former dating partners are more likely
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to injury victims than spouses. we need together to close that loophole. similarly, individuals convicted of misdemeanor stalking, a crime which i take gravely seriously, which we often see starting as a felony but being pled down, are not prohibited from gun possession, that needs to change. lastly, we need to do more those individuals prohibiting from accesses guns as the individual who killed muju was, sur sender these firearms to the appropriate authorities. i acknowledge domestic violence is not the only danger that myan other officers face, gun related incidents over all was the primary cause of death for law enforcement in 2016 when the number of law enforcement officers was at highest rate in over 20 years killed with a gun. and often the people who commit
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these crimes have long criminal records. i'm providing this testimony before you today as you consider the need to protect all corners of our community from gun violence. and on behalf of my officers and law enforcement across this nation, i implore you to close the loop holes that i've spoken of, the others that i know you are cognizant of. i again am comfortable informing partnerships and building bridges, but again i look to you for help with policy. and let me conclude with this. with all deference to mrs. bose and your compelling remarks, by virtue of my chosen profession i know all too well none of us are safe. and what brings me before you today is the brightest child i know, she's nine, her name is
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alexander, and ruby asked me how do you do this. i do this on behalf of my daughter alexander. i'm here today on behalf of the men and women of law enforcement and on behalf of my daughter knowing that we are committed to seeing that what happened to my panelists, my heart goes out to you, never happens to another family. so i thank you. you have my respect. and you have my full support as you endeavor to take us forward. >> thank you so much, chief, to you, and to the men and women that serve with you. and in all of our communities. and we know today this is about violence in schools but also about violence in homes and violence in the community. it's about stopping gun violence. and i want to take a moment just to go out of order, because
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senator amy klobuchar who is our leader on the issue that relates to domestic violence, i know has to step away in a moment, and i want to recognize her for a moment to speak about really the leadership she's been providing and chief shooes bee's been giv the same statistics as she's been advocating. >> thank you very much. i want to thank you all of you. this has been an incredible moment. i wish our colleagues weren't hiding from you and here to listen to this. and i'm in support of all of the bills, the universal background check, assault weapons, everything you raise. but one focus with the chief. those were the exact numbers that i gave to the president of the united states when i sat across from him at the meet teg white house last week. and then he said he wanted to include, in addition to many of these other provisions and universal background check,
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those closing loop hools holes dating partners and stalking in the bill, that i'm leading, similar to the house, blumenthal has worked on this, in a package. so i ask you chief to help me 40 hold him to it. he respects law enforcement. and as you point out we have over 6,000 women have been killed by guns in domestic violence situations. and so many times we had an officer in our state as well killed going to one of those scenes. he had body armor on but shot in the head. and he left three kids behind including a little girl with a blue dress that i saw coming down the church. and i appreciate you including all of this, knowing it wouldn't
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help save your baby, francine, so thank you very much. >> thank you. and this is in our background check. this is in our. >> it is in ours, yes? >> okay. >> so the president said he would put it in his. so that's important to know. >> absolutely. eva jones, we thank you for flying in across the country from oregon and to be here and lend your voice. welcome. >> hello. i'm eva jones. i'm a sophomore from hud river in oregon. since first day of school, excitement for new year but irrational worries. every time i walk into the classroom i plan where i should hide in case of a shooting. i think how beautiful it would be to have windows looking out over the columbia river. i have friends whose hearts jump
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every time someone enters a classroom unexpectedly. after every shooting in the country my teachers say they would sacrifice their lives or tackle a shooter. in my math class we discussed the pros and cons of hided under our desk or tackling the attacker. >> i would like to say we are terrified. that would be the rational response. don't get me wrong, there is a part of us that is. but school wide murder has been so normalized by gun culture that we approach these like a fire drill. this makes me sick. millions of children are rationally preparing for student slaughter and this is normalized. we cannot allow our nation to go along with this any longer. it is not normal to advise you'llize myself hiding in closets during journalism class and teachers instruct if there is a school shooting lock the door immediately and leave them outside to look for stragglers.
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it is not arm to have two or three gun threats ta year. we the students the victims are left in the dark. we are on the receiving end of everyone's analysis of the situation. but it's time for our analysis. i live in rural oregon. i have plenty of gun owning neighbors. but to kids this is not a partisan issue. nra lobbyists are making this a divisive matter. it's not. american citizens do not need acce access to guns of war. government officials and adults are calling for tighter security in our schools. adults don't know what school is like today. most schools across the country are already equipped with identification on entry. locked door policies and on campus police. increasing police preference, lo locking students in, these are all based on the acceptance our
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schools are going to get shot up in america. as a student, i can assure you increasing security is not the answer. locking up our schools, it's a teachers job to create an innovative learning environment for their students. logging up schools would inhibit any growth. turning them into prisons will destroy any environment that fosters learning. if you are immersed into an atmosphere of fear and walls, you cannot focus on creative problem solving and growth. security is not the issue so do not try to put us on tire less teachers or administrators. it is not complex issue. we need gun and ban assault weapons, all accessories, military grade weapons of war. do not try to pass the blame or responsibility. it is your job to ensure our safety through legislation, not minor my teachers. i do not need to read out
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statistics to show you that the rates of gun violence in america surpass any other developed nation. i cannot content trying to learn in an environment any longer. americans students will not stand by and watch our classmates murders week after week. we are the ones most affected by these shootings and week not heaven vote. it is infuriating to have our lives valued less than a collectable. we will not accept this. we are sick of living like this. so i assure you we will be relent less. we won't stop marching, we'll keep fighting weapons. we will vote soon and we won't stop until something changes. >> thank you, eva, i'm so glad that senator widen suggested that you join us. thank you very much. thank you. [ applause ] >> and now last but definitely not least, we want to hear from
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a teacher. katrina cookbush. thanks so much for joining us. >> senator and members of this committee, thank you for this opportunity. my name is katrina kickbush and special education in baltimore, maryland where i serve also as building rep for the teachers union and aft affiliate. 24 years ago i made the choice to become a teacher because i see education as the foundation for positively shaping the next generation of american citizens. schools are supposed to be places of warmth, growth, and learning, where children are allowed and encouraged to act their age, make mistakes, and become the people they will be. a place where students hidden talents and deep passioned are nurtured. but in world of children, a world of safety, a world of trust stands in jeopardy. because of the lack of common sense gun laws that place a
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child's life below that individual buy and carry weapons designed for mass destruction, our children face daily reminders their lives could come crashing down around them. we have to ask four-year-olds to not only be prepared to read and write but be prepared to face an active shooter in their building. multiple times each year our students must perform lock downs as if any one of them might it be the real thing. in that moment, when the code is announced throughout the school, the goal of every individual in that building is no longer the development and growth of young children. the goal becomes staying alive. keeping others alive. each teacher walks towards their classroom door, removes the tiny magnet that keeps our constantly locked doors from lashing all day. we cover windows so that no one can tell if there are people in the room hoping that if we are quiet enough, a shooter will pass by. our students are trained to move to an identified location in the room. this is the place where if a
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shooter decided to shoot through the door, window, or through a sheetrock, the bullets would be least likely to hit them. we take attendance. we note the name of the child who left to the bathroom. we hope that he and all the other children who are moving through the building find the closest safe place to hide. and then we wait. we don't open the door for any one. we stay quiet. we silently pray. a building that is designed for life and joy, learning and exploration, is silent. often, in the younger grades, students are cuddling up in ex-to their teacher just to feel some sense of safety, and this is only a drill. this is not just hypothetical. two years ago while students at my school played on the playground, two men were shot and killed directly across the street on the steps of a home of one of our families. hearing the shots, the teacher huddled the students in a corner, hoping that the shooter had accomplished his goal and would pass them by. the building went on lock down while police skouerred the
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neighborhood. and parents made their way to the school. while comfortable students and families, staff members had to deal with their own response to this situation. those moments immediately after a shooting are only the first step in a process of recovery. a process that has become more and more a process of acceptance of a new reality. the following day attendance is low. and hours are spent helping children and families make sense of what happened. helping to rebuild the safety that we have worked so hard to build initially. after the most recent mass florida shooting, my own 15-year-old daughter asked me what i would do if a gunman came into my school. i turned the question around and asked her what she would want me to do. she thought for a moment, and then responded, mom, i really want you to come home. but i know you. you love your students and you
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couldn't live with your self if you didn't try and save them. it makes me sad and it makes me angry that i am being put in a position of having to make the impossible decision of protecting my students, my colleagues, or being there to see my own children grow up. unfortunately some feel gun laws need to be changed so more guns are placed in schools, more bullets to threaten others, including arming teachers. everything i have said today and everything for which i entered teaching stands against arming teachers. we are trained to become compassionate, patient, and encouraging. we willingly take on additional duties due to lack of funding, now i'm being asked to be an armed gun. this is not a school where i want to teach. this is not a school where i want my students to attend. i have made the decision that i'll do everything in my power to protect my students. i'll stand with them in the face of intruder.
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but this is not a decision i or any other educator should have to make. we need change. >> thank you so much all of you for your powerful statements, really amazing. [ applause ] >> we are now going to turn to some questions. and, first, both eva and alec, as the young people here, i know david had to sign off by skype. if the president of the united states were here right now and all of congress was here, eva, what would you want to tell them? >> i would like to tell them that it's not time -- they need to get the money out of the situation. it's not about money. it's not about lives. and we are not going to go anywhere until it is safe for every child in america to go to school. because, i mean, i work a lot on getting education to like other
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kids in other countries. and in a developed nation where we hold education so high, we are still scared to go to school. and that needs to be fixed right now. and i would tell them that if they didn't want to join me, that they should get out of our way, because it's time for maybe a change in legislators or officials if they are not ready to that i c to take that on. >> thank you. alec, what would you want to say to them? >> thank you, senator. just for the record i'm 24. i'm not nearly as young. >> as a millennial. >> yes. so what i would tell them is i don't want to become old in the wild west. it seems like the conversation has turned to everybody getting more guns, as to essentially be
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threatening the entire populus with violence if violence begets them. i speak to so many nra members, as fred was talking about, and they always say, well if, brother had a gun he probably would have been safer. well, that don't make me feel better. that just makes he would still be under the threat of violence and threat of being shot and all he would have is draw his gun quicker. and i think one thing the president said is there are movies, movies are the problem and video games are the problem. and maybe they are, but not for the reasons he was saying. it's probably because we think that we are -- those people think they are heros. they are the heroes in the action movie. they are the john mcclain. action here owe that's going to take out the shooter and become the her ho. and i don't want to live in that country. i don't want to live in an action movie.
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i want to live in a safe country where my family and students like eva are not under constant threat of violence. and i think that would be what i would have to say to them is that do not look at the situation as everybody, yes, we believe everybody has a right to defend themselves. but it doesn't make it easier for everybody to have the dangerous tools out there to do so. that's what i would tell him. >> thanks so much. you spoke about not wanting to be armed with a gun. but tell us, mrs. kickbush, as we deal with budgets coming up now, obviously the children are the most important thing, education is important. doesn't get reflected too many times in the budget. but if you were really going to have what you need, what you
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need in the classroom, and what your children need in the classroom to really be armed and prepared for them and their success, in light of all of this, what would that be? what would that look like? >> well, i've always said that we fund what we value. and as much as we say we value education, the funding is always not there. and so the reality of schools these days is teachers are being cut, nurses are being cut, mental health professionals are being cut. we are saying, sure, 40 kids in a classroom, that's great, that teacher can make that personal connection. that's impossible. we need smaller classrooms. we need funding. we need smaller class sizes so teachers can make one on one connection. even though it's not happening right now, when a students walks into the building i can look at how that children is feeling,
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talk to me. not only do we need our buildings up to date, i don't know that the state the bomber schools are in we closed down because we didn't have heat. we need funding for mental health professionals for every level of education. because growing up today is different. things happened to us growing up are not even the same as what our children are going through. they need somebody to talk to. we need to stop it early on and get them the help so there is not accumulative effect that we see later on down the line. >> thank you very much. i'm going to turn to senator nelson next, and then our other colleagues. yes. >> one question. fred, this is so raw for you. so after the march, millions of people marching, and it all dies down. how do you keep it going?
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>> well, do not let it become a political moment, number one. last week, many of you sat around with the president, sat, talked, said a lot of things. and within a day or two, those pretty much undermined by tweets and other messages. the day of my daughter's funeral, there was a tweet linking the murder of my kid and the other 16 to the russia probe. so the first thing is i need all of you, and i have to hold all of you accountable to making sure this is seen as a real moment, no the a political moment, a moment of change, where you need to stand up and be leaders and do something. okay. that's what i need. i can't count on us to be the ones to make it happen. i'm hopeful the media will keep their eyes on the story. but let's face it new stories come up. i understand you have a lot of
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colleagues who didn't want to be here today. well, guess what, if they won't be here, then we should keep doing this. and we should do this publicly and we should invite the media. and we should take the pressure from the outside and bring it in. okay. how is it possible that paul ryan and mitch mcconnell will not talk about this? won't have a real hearing. people are dying. real legislation is needed. so if we can't do this in the formal way, let's bring the pressure from the outside in. i can tell you, i'm not going anywhere, these kids are not going anywhere. i'll come back. they'll come back. this one was different. we are all motivated. we won't let the story die. but you betcha, i need your help. this is not a political moment. this is life or death. [ applause ] >> thank you very much.
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and senator blumenthal, then senator cain, then senator widen. >> you know, i have rarely experienced so powerful a moment as this hearing serving in the united states senate, perhaps in public life, except for the experience at sandy hook in the hours and days following that shooting, and my knowing the sandy hook families, each of you is really thanked by america. and, fred, i just want to say we have an obligation to stand up, as you are doing, and to speak out. the only place in america this issue is political is in this
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building. the rest of america is united across party lines, geographic boundaries, religions, race, that we need to do something about the guns. because none of us is immune. as all of you have said, we could be in your shoes right now, any of us who are parents live with this potential nightmare. chief, i want to ask you a quick question. arming teachers, do you think law enforcement favors providing more arms, more weapons to teachers? >> senator, i doubt the value of escalation of force in this matter. as a young child, i recall being trained to duck and cover. and i hear young people like eva talk about the same experiences
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i had. and i thought as a younger man those days were behind us. to the point that's being made by the brave people that i have privileged to join today, a goodly portion of my work is about polarization and addressing polarization. this is not a moment for partisanship. this is a moment for peoplehood. and escalation of arms race between people who seek to do harm and people who seek to defend children, i don't see the value in that. i think the principles that you have laid forth and that you are advancing hold the greatest promise. and the last thing i'll say in response to your question is my focus in my community is about that community. again, we are a handful of law enforcement officers in a brilliant nation. but those relationships can lead to prevention. and what i don't want is for a
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teacher to become involved in a gun fight. what i want is for law enforcement to prevent that gun fight from happening in the first place. >> using arms in the middle of an active shooter situation is hugely peru list, is it not? >> any time a gun goes off, yes. >> even with some minimal training is tremendous, correct? >> senator, i'll give you an example, when we train our officers how to use the weapons that we carry daily in a training environment, the block that proceeds actually handling a weapon goes into extraordinarily detail about the dangers of manipulating this weapon. constantly being cognizant where it's being pointed out. you introduce into that chaotic environment, people who out of all due respect are enthusiastic
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amateurs as opposed to trained professionals, you are introducing potential for greater harm. and again my focus as leader in law enforcement is preventing any gun fight from happening in the first place. >> and i'm so grateful that you raise this issue of domestic violence. because domestic violence is a scourge. it is part of this epidemic, violence in our vote. this is international women's week or day, and that's part of the reason why we are doing this bill on red flags now. because a huge number, perhaps majority of guns taken away from people, who were regarded as danger, occur because a spouse or a partner reports that danger of imminent harm. and prevention is exactly what
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we should be doing, prevention to take guns out of the hand of dangerous people before they shoot children or spouses or partners or strangers. 90 of them every day ch. so i thank you and the other panelists for helping us prevent gun violence. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you very much. senator cane. >> thanks to all of you for taking the most painful moment you've experienced but trying to put them to use for others. i've dispaired about this ever since the shooting at virginia tech. because i've seen these tragedies just pile up one after the next and congress not willing to do anything. and i've supported all kinds of bills. but i do think this moment may open a moment for some reason i think the advocacy of these young people, just like in the
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birmingham march in 1963, marching of the young people that changed the dynamic and really changed dynamic of the civil rights movement. i want to say this three lies that get told and i think all of us have to educate the broader community about these lies. one is you'll hear people say it's not about guns. it's about everything else other than guns. now, it would be a lie to say it's all of it is about guns or only about guns. there are all kind of issues. there is mental health, school security, but when people try to say it's about guns, they are wrong. i was mayor of the city, richmond, virginia, and i went to toole funerals and victim support group meetings. but we brought homicide down. we brought aggravated assault down. because we put strategies in place that reduced what our law enforcement guys called the gun carry rate. how many random stops they were carrying a gun. we had unusually high gun carry rate in virginia.
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we did things that didn't necessarily turn bad people to good people but made people decide maybe i'll leave the gun in the sock drawer. and when we did, rereduced homicide rate and aggravated assault rate. it is about guns. other things too but we can't ignore guns. second lie, there is nothing we can do about it. you hear about that. nra loves that to debunk the notion steps taken will make us safer. no, to the contrary they do take us safer. lori knows the shooter at virginia tech was deranged young person who had been treated appropriately for mental health in high school community where everyone knew his situation. but when he moves into a university setting, none of the information goes with him, and he's a free agent, nobody knows
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how to help this pressure young person succeed, then he goes off the rails. prohibited from having a weapon but fell through the gish in background check. so what we learned from virginia tech is having better universal background checks. that was the lesson l- frfrom virginia tech. there are all kinds of steps we can do. the third lie you hear over and over, this stuff would violate the tenth amendment, i mean the second amendment. violates the second amendment to consider this or that. second amendment is the only amendment that uses the phrase well regulated right in the amendment. those who wrote it up understood that guns were dangerous. and that there needed to be some notion of regulation. they understood that at the time. and guns are a lot more
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dangerous now than they were then. and we tolerate all kind of regulations. in most states, virginia i was jusz checking this out, limitation on the size of a magazine that you can take to hunt a deer. like in kentucky i just checked it, if you want to hunt a deer or bear you are legally prevented from having a magazine more than ten rounds. because that wouldn't give the deer a fighting chance. if you had 30. you can't tell me that we can't regulate the kind of weapon you can lunt an animal with or the size of the magazine you can hunt an animal with, but the second amendment says it's absolutely free range and free season on human beings. all of these have been upheld. all consistent with the second amendment. so when people tell you or nra
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perpetrates this, it is a lie. they accept when it comes to magazine restrictions on deer hunt tg and trying to tell us we can't do a restriction when it comes to people. so we have to push back against these lies, call them out for what they are, and your strong testimony today helps give us the energy to do that. thank you. >> thank you very much, senator kaine. senator widen. >> eava, thank you very much. you have made your small community 3,000 miles away from washington d.c. very, very proud today. and i was particularly struck when we were, you wondered if adults would pay any attention to you and your voice would count. after you spoke, as far as i can tell, your name has actually been mentioned by more adults and senators than anyone else. so it's pretty clear your message is getting through.
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what i would like to ask you about, something we really haven't gotten into much today, and that is what these issues mean for rural communities, for rural america. you said something that is very important that is very positive. you said my friends know a lot about guns and everybody is out and about and hunting and fishing. it's a way of life. but we have had it. we have had it hiding in the cabinets and steering clear of the windows. and then you said we don't see these as partisan issues. we don't think there is anything to do with democrats and republicans here. this is about for an elected official, you either get it or you don't. you either understand this is about safety or you don't.
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and in a sense your generation may be saying something powerful to the rest of the country. you come back here and talk to the republicans and democrats, my name is eva jones and went to a town meeting, and we don't think about this. so tell us more about how your generation is going to break new ground in terms of getting people here to stop thinking about democrats and republicans and just respond to what you are talking about, this ever present fear and sense of violence. >> because i think your message is really pretty optimistic. >> so living in a rural community, there is tons of hunting and there are especially in the upper valley, like people really like their guns. but that doesn't mean, at least to the kids, i'm not going to
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speak to their parents, but to the kids they are still going through everything that i'm going through and every other kid across america is. and you are hunting guns, one thing interesting, a lot of people, especially who don't live in communities where there are guns, oh my gosh, everyone is going to take weigh oaway ou. then you don't understand. it's totally different. i mean, leaving bullet holes the size of oranges through a person's body is not the same as a shotgun that you are going to have to reload each time you want to hunt an animal. but with like partisan issues, one thing that i think the problem is, i'm sorry, but just with elected officials right now, no matter what the problem is, a lot of it is about money
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and re-election. and i know this is not true for everyone, but the shift needs to be focused away from your personal agenda or your re-election campaign, and more on what you want to do and why you want to help our nation. another thing, just everyone, like all kids are just really -- they get wrapped up into this world of democrat and republican, and we can't help but be influenced and make judgments. and as high schoolers, we are already -- nuts. >> you are doing great. >> i forgot the word but we'll just move on. >> right. >> we are already prone, i got it, prone. we are already prone to do that. and so i think that if our
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adults and mentors in our life and elected officials can try to mirror what like we should be doing and listening to each other, and worrying more about what we are doing rather than other people and petty things that i think would really help, but i think a lot of people have realized what change they can make themselves and they're ready to do that. i know i am. >> thank you. thanks for being here. >> as we wrap up, we want to thank each of you. each of you have said things that are incredibly powerful. this most important thunging is this is personal. it's not political. it's not partisan. it's personal. you have, by your courage, in being here today reminded us that it's personal.
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we need to recommit ourselves to make sure that this changes. this has to change. thank you very, very much. hearing is adjourned. >> thank you.
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here's a look at our schedule. the chair of the white house council of economic advisors was on capitol hill today testifying about the administration's economic policies. we'll bring you that joint economic committee hearing tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on cspan2. the senate intelligence committee held a meeting looking at the security clearance process for government employees. that's at 9:00 p.m. eastern on
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cspan. be sure to watch washington journal each sunday for our special series on 1968, america this turmoil starting march 18th. we'll look back 50 years to that time which includes the vietnam war and a fractitious presidential election.
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