Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressman Mike Thompson, Chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, community leaders and those affected by gun violence at a forum on gun violence prevention today at the Omega Boys Club. Below are the Leader's opening remarks:
"Thank you very much, Joe [Marshall of the Omega Boys Club]. Ordinarily, I wouldn't mind hearing Joe Marshall say some nice things that are on that piece of paper, but the fact is we have come to hear from all of you.
"It is an honor to be here at the Omega Boys Club. It started right around the time I went into Congress--so almost 26 years ago now, 25 years ago. Joe Marshall is way up there on Mount Olympus as one of the gods. He's one of the real people who does the most important work: help young people reach their aspirations, their fulfillment, to reduce the violence in the communities in which they live. So, Joe Marshall, thank you for your ongoing and well recognized, nationally and locally and every way, globally really, for the effectiveness of your leadership. Thank you, Joe Marshall, for your hospitality and for your friendship and most of all for your leadership for America's children.
"Just a few weeks ago, and actually one week ago, we took our oath of office, the President took his. We all, all of us who are engaged in any public aspect of public life, take an oath to protect and defend. Protect and defend, that's the oath we take. Protect and defend the Constitution, the Constitution and all the rights contained there: the right to assemble, the right to worship, the right to be in our country. We have really got to do more to honor that oath of office.
"I think what we saw in Newtown drove home how urgent and necessary it is for us to act. No more words meaning action, says the book of James. But this has gone on in cities across America and places across America every single day.
"I remember going to a child care center, day care center, in San Francisco a number of years ago and we're playing, little three year olds and four years olds, and a balloon popped and one of the children said, "Drop.' Drop. Imagine that a little child would think that. What does that say about the community? And our need to do more to honor the oath to protect and defend?
"So this is it. We have to measure up, measure up, and we cannot accept anything less than success. The President has said he would give it his all. The Vice President has called upon you as an intellectual resource of social innovators, community innovators, to give your suggestions about how we should go forth, how we should proceed. But proceed we must and succeed we must.
"The purpose of today is to hear from some of you, all of you to the extent that we can, as many of you as possible, and from the leadership of our city. I am very honored to welcome the Chair of our House Task Force on Gun Violence Prevention, my colleague Congressman Mike Thompson. I'll say later more about him, but I wanted him to hear from you. And I want you to hear from him. We so want him to hear what our city, our community is doing and that's why we are so proud that the Mayor is here. We salute him for his leadership and his effectiveness and his action on this very important issue.
"The Police Chief is here. We thank you, Chief Suhr, for your leadership as well and look forward to hearing from you. And of course I have the privilege, I have the privilege of sharing representation of San Francisco with Congresswoman Jackie Speier who has her own story to tell, her own experience to bring to bear on the subject as a Member of the Task Force, as a Member of Congress.
"So we all have our view. The President has been great. He's put 23 actions by executive order that he can do. We all know that we have to have the most effective background check, we have to address the mental health issue, but 99% of people who have those issues are more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator of violence. But nonetheless to deal with that, to deal with the issue of abandoning the sale of high-capacity assault weapons or AK47s or a high-capacity, as Mr. Thompson trains us to say, assault magazines, these high-capacity weaponry to cause more damage to do so in a way that really does help us protect and defend.
"We all have more to say and it's limited amount of time, so I am going to now yield with great respect to my colleague who has spoken out on this so magnificently in the Congress of the United States and in America. She is a respected voice on the subject, Congresswoman Jackie Speier."