September 11, 2019

On Senate Floor, Gillibrand Calls On Colleagues To End Gun Violence Epidemic, Finally Pass Commonsense Gun Control Legislation

9.11.19 Gun Legislation

**WATCH Senator Gillibrand’s Speech on the Senate Floor HERE**

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand spoke on the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to pass commonsense gun control legislation. Gillibrand’s speech comes on the heels of the House Judiciary Committee passing three bills last night to strengthen gun control laws. The Senate has not passed any meaningful legislation to address the nation’s gun violence crisis.

Below are Senator Gillibrand’s remarks as prepared:

Mr. President, I rise to join my colleagues in discussing our country’s horrific gun violence epidemic.

I’ve risen to speak of this problem many times over the years — and to be honest, it’s exasperating to have to do it over and over again. 

El Paso. Dayton. Gilroy. Odessa. Midland. Brownsville in New York. The list goes on and on. City after city, community after community, devastated by gun violence.

We witness these tragedies. We watch heartbreaking and nightmarish footage on our televisions. We offer our thoughts and prayers. We have heavy hearts, deep disappointments and horror, and still, nothing.

The Senate has still not passed any meaningful legislation to address the problem.

So here we are once again in this chamber, Democrats are speaking out — on behalf of the American people, on behalf of the citizens who are protesting and demanding action, on behalf of our constituents who call and write and tweet at us every single day — for commonsense legislation to help end the gun violence that plagues our communities.

And we aren’t just speaking out on behalf of Democrats, because gun violence doesn't ask what political party you’re from. It touches the lives of everyone in this country. The majority of the American people — Democrats, Independents, and Republicans — all want action.

They want their schools to be safe. They want a place to be able to go and worship and be safe. They want to be able to go and buy their back-to-school supplies and be safe.  

So let’s be really clear about the root of this inaction: It’s greed. It’s corruption. It’s the rot at the heart of Washington.

And the NRA is no different. The NRA cares more about gun sales than they do about the people of this country. They care more about the gun manufacturers than they do our communities. And too many of my colleagues just don’t have the guts to stand up to the NRA. 

There are three effective solutions sitting right in front of us — all of which have been voted on before, getting lots of support. 

I really reject the false argument that because these commonsense proposals may not stop every single instance of gun violence that it’s not worth doing them. We should do these. 

It makes no sense to stop doing the commonsense things just because it doesn’t stop every gun crime. Because the truth is it’s time to do something.

We can and should ban assault weapons and large magazines. No civilian needs access to weapons of war. Those weapons are designed solely to kill large numbers of people very quickly, in minutes, in seconds. And our military train heavily to be able to use those weapons well.

We can and we should pass my legislation to criminalize gun trafficking. It will help slow the tide of illegal guns into cities like New York and Chicago across the country, where guns that are illegal are sold directly, out of the back of a truck, to a gang member or a criminal.

It’s one of the things that law enforcement keep asking us to do. And have been for a decade. 

We can and should pass the red flag laws that are designed to make sure people with violent tendencies can’t have access to guns.

But the first, and most obvious solution should be a cakewalk for this chamber. And that’s universal background checks.

This solution is supported by the vast majority of Americans — and a great bipartisan bill has already passed our House.

But it’s not even being considered for a vote right now in the Senate.

So it’s really on Senator McConnell, right now. It’s on him. It’s his decision. To protect our communities or not. To just protect our kids.

As a mom, when there was a shooting less than a mile from Theo and Henry’s school, all I could think about was getting there as fast as I possibly could just to make sure my child was safe. That’s the fear that every parent in America has today.

And we shouldn’t accept living in America where we have to worry that our kids aren’t safe in school, where they’re actually doing shelter in place drills instead of mathematical drills. We shouldn’t accept that world.

We shouldn't accept a world where you can’t be at a bible study with your friends. We shouldn’t accept a world where you can’t go to a concert or go to a movie and know that you’re safe.

But that’s the world we are living in. 

And the truth about all of this is, is right now this moment we’re in, we have Americans who are fueled by hate, hunting down other people with weapons of war. And that has to change. And we do have the will to do this. 

Congress can show courage. Congress can do the right thing. So why not do it now, when the American people are begging us? To just have an ounce of strength in our spines. Just an ounce of courage to stand up to special interests, to greed, and corruption, and lies that distort this debate.

We are bigger than this. We are stronger than this. We are better than this. 

Let’s protect our kids. 

I yield the floor.