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Public Statements

Gun Violence

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. NELSON. Mr. President, I wish to address the issue of gun violence. I think my colleague from Rhode Island is going to be addressing this issue on which he has shown tremendous leadership. It will be a continuing issue over the next several weeks as we get ready to consider legislation.

My approach is one of common sense and moderation. I come to this issue as a hunter, as a kid who grew up on a ranch having guns all my life, being very familiar and comfortable with guns and to this day enjoying hunting, although my hunting has primarily been limited to quail, but I enjoy that so much with my son, although I might say that I was hunting Burmese pythons in the Everglades last week, but people do not have to hunt them with guns. Since they are taking over the Everglades, they are caught and then euthanized and, hopefully, we can stop this proliferation of Burmese pythons that are eating up everything in the Everglades, including alligators. But that is a subject for another day.

The subject before us is gun violence. Is there anybody who does not realistically, with common sense, think we should do a criminal background check for anyone who is purchasing a gun? That is about as common sense, as moderate a position one can take given the circumstances we find ourselves in with people who go in and start slaughtering innocent children. Maybe that is the one thing we can get over 60 votes for in this Chamber in order to pass and maybe they will consider it in the other body, the House of Representatives.

Secondly, is there anybody who thinks we should have clips which I showed with the sheriff of Orange County in Orlando last week--clips that are this long and hold 60 rounds? The law I voted to extend back in 2004 said clips of more than 10 would not be allowed. Is that not reasonable? Is that not common sense? I know how people say, Oh, a person can change a clip in a few seconds. But should we make it easier for a killer so he does not have to change the clip?

The question is one of balance, one of common sense. When I go hunting, I don't have any need for anything more than 10; indeed, I don't have any need for anything more than a few. In quail hunting, of course, if it is an over-and-under, a hunter has two shells because that is basically the number of shots he is going to get off when the quail flush.

The third element is also one of common sense. The sheriff of Orange County and I held up two guns they confiscated from people using them for criminal purposes. I held up an AK-47. The sheriff held up a Bushmaster. The AK-47 is a derivative of the same weapon used by the North Vietnamese against us in the Vietnam war. I simply asked the question: Are these guns for hunting or are they for killing? The legitimate answer is they are not for hunting, they are for killing. That is what they were designed for, as an assault-type weapon in a combat circumstance.

So how do we approach the legitimate recognition of the second amendment, the right to bear arms, with assault weapons? It seems as though among people of good will using common sense and moderation, we can come to some definitions that would ban those types of assault weapons.

I wish to conclude my remarks by saying this is a lot of politics. Some of us are portrayed, as a result of taking this position of moderation and common sense, as if we were not for the second amendment. That is totally false. Of course I support the second amendment. I just gave my history: growing up in the country, having guns all my life, and still having a number of guns in my house. I support the second amendment. I do so in light of the circumstances in our society today that have changed.

My final comment: In all of the politics going on about this issue, the advocacy organization called the National Rifle Association is not the same NRA that grew up representing the interests of hunters and sportsmen. It has become an advocacy group for gun manufacturers that want to sell more of their manufactured products. So it becomes an economic issue to people instead of one of common sense and moderation.

We need to draw that distinction. This organization--the NRA--has gone to the extreme not only, as we saw, in their response to the elementary school killings in Connecticut, but they have gone to the extreme in my State by advocating in the State legislature getting in between the doctor-patient relationship as to what a doctor can inquire about with regard to a patient concerning a wound that might have come from a gunshot.

This is extremism in the extreme. We ought to call it what it is as we are debating this issue.

Moderation and common sense is the answer to this issue facing us.

Mr. President, I wish to thank my colleague from Rhode Island for his courtesies extended, and I yield the floor.


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