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Public Statements

Gun Violence

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PASCRELL. I appreciate the gentlelady for yielding. Madam Speaker, it is good to see you in the seat this evening.

I support the Second Amendment. I was lucky enough to come into this Congress with my friend from New York, Carolyn McCarthy. She has been a champion for the issue against gun violence.

I am proud to be here tonight supporting her legislation, H.R. 308, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. The McCarthy bill will reinstate the ban on large capacity ammunition feeding devices that existed for quite some time, from 1994 to 2004, as the gentlelady from Long Island has said.

As has already been stated, this bill bans the sale or transfer of high capacity magazines, those holding more than 10 rounds, by non-law enforcement civilians. I state that right now, Madam Speaker, to make it very, very clear, this is an issue close to my heart because I came to this Congress in January 1997 pledging my support to defend law enforcement officials throughout the United States of America.

Many times those who illegally have these guns or have illegal guns, many times they are better armed than our police forces. Just think about it? When we raise our hands, if we are fortunate enough to be elected or reelected, we swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as you heard the gentlewoman just mention. Part of that pledge, or a reflection of that pledge, is how we treat our law enforcement officials besides just patting them on the back. So we want to not only have a law enforcement person, a police officer out there who is well equipped, who is well trained, but is in a better position to defend us than those who seek to destroy property or limb.

It does not make sense. The failure of Congress in recent years to shoulder the ultimate responsibility of safeguarding our communities from gun violence is inexcusable. This is not rhetoric. This is common sense. These magazines, which contain so many bullets that can kill so many people, have no place in our towns, have no place in our cities.

The tragedy in Arizona was a gut-wrenching reminder of what can happen when these weapons are legally available. We are not suggesting taking guns away from anyone who legally possesses them, and I can't emphasize that enough. And I know those who are very close to the gun community are very suspect of anything that will lead to a graduated taking of guns away from the people. That has never been the intent of the gentlelady from Long Island, and certainly that is not my intent whatsoever. And that is not simply an assuaging of the argument; that is the fact. This is not about guns. This is about reason. This is about sanity. This is about peace of mind.

That tragedy will always remain in our minds. Our sister is hurting, and we pray for her recovery. The perpetrator of that heinous crime fired 32 bullets in only 16 seconds. He killed 6 people and injured 13.

That did not happen that long ago, and yet, it is out of the country's culture mind. It is not there. It is not discussed. It is almost as if it didn't happen.

Some people have said that it is not the gun but the person who commits the act of violence. While that may be the case, the shooter was taken down while reloading his weapon after those 32 bullets. If there had been fewer bullets in the magazine, he may have been thwarted earlier, saving other lives.

So we are talking about this magazine that we want to take out of anyone's hands. We are talking about potential. We are talking about possibilities. We are talking about risk, and giving more of a chance to protect ourselves. And for a police officer, if a police officer was there, could have been in the crowd, should have been--all valued lives. And those are not the only numbers that are chilling.

Nearly 100,000 people are killed by guns every year. Over 260 people will be killed today by a gun. This results in $100 billion annually in medical, security, and criminal justice costs. There is a reason that local enforcement and the U.S. Conference of Mayors supports this legislation: Because the ban worked when it was in effect for those 10 years. If it didn't work, we wouldn't be here tonight. Records show that while the Federal assault weapons ban was in effect, the number of high capacity magazines collected by police fell dramatically.

This is a return to the same standard we have in many States, including my home State of New Jersey, and the law of the land from 1994 to 2004. There is no question that it is constitutional. This is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. Let's not make it that. This is not about taking all guns away from law-abiding citizens. It has nothing to do with that, either. This is about saving lives. And right now we pray for our own buddy, our own sister, who was just here not too long ago. Where is she? I didn't see her the last few days. She's healing. We thank God she is in the position to heal.

We can do something about this reckless nonsense without violating the Constitution of the United States of America which we have all pledged to adhere to.

I yield back to the gentlelady from Long Island, and I thank you, Madam Speaker.

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Mr. PASCRELL. Madam Speaker, I would like you to take back to your side--and I'll take back to my side--that I know this has been a great leverage issue for the Republican Party. It has been a third rail for the Democratic Party. We were told basically, in so many words, to stay away from it. Look, let's lay our cards on the table.

I think that this is something we can agree to come together on common ground and be a little bit more reasonable about our approach.

I thank you, Congresswoman McCarthy, for leading the way, as usual. You know I will always be there in support of what I think is very important legislation for the sanity of our country.

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