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Public Statements

Gun Violence in America

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Madam Speaker, the jarring violence of last week seared into our consciousness. It started in Portland, Oregon, with a mall shooting that might have been worse, and ended in Newton, Connecticut, where it's impossible to imagine that it could have been worse. It's part of an ongoing pattern of carnage because we lose one life to gun violence every 20 minutes every hour every day.

The mass murderer's rampage gets the Nation's attention, but the same total loss of life at Sandy Hook happens more than twice every day all year long.

This is personal for me not just because the mall shooter was in my district, but I had a high school friend who was killed with a random, freak drive-by shooting. My brother took his life with a handgun as a young man. I've supported gun safety provisions at the State and Federal level at every opportunity. It might be different now, not just because of the horrific images of parades of funerals for little children.

I salute Mayor Bloomberg's unstinting advocacy for gun safety and mobilizing America's mayors who bear the brunt of gun violence. I welcome the President's leadership and will support any reform that he advances.

But I would urge my colleagues to read the columns in the Sunday Times by my fellow Oregonian, Nick Kristof, and Ezra Klein's article in yesterday's Washington Post. They demonstrate we know what works. There are examples around the world. Even in America with lax, weak gun protections, there are, in fact, some regulations in some places, and they make a difference.

Let's treat gun violence like any public health crisis, which I would say losing 30,000 lives a year would qualify as a crisis. We need to treat it like the threat to public health and families that it is, treat a gun like any other consumer product. This is how we slashed the auto death rate--vehicle design and driver behavior, enforcement and education.

For guns, it starts when Congress stops being intimidated by the extremists, and then just do what the majority of gun owners agree we should do--renew the assault weapon ban which many of us will introduce under the leadership of our dear friend and colleague, Carolyn McCarthy; ban large magazines and the most devastating bullets; and close the gun show loophole. These are for starters, things that NRA members agree with.

Let's care as much about real guns as we do about toy gun consumer protection to start us down the road of making our children safer, by treating children's gun safety like their auto safety.

With all the airbags, anti-drunk driving campaigns, child seats, driver education, careful licensing, we slashed the accident rate. Yes, it didn't eliminate accidents all together. But we can't imagine a world without these protections for our families.

Let's see if we can imagine a world where our children are safer from gun violence, and then make it happen.


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