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Public Statements

Gun Violence Prevention

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. LOWENTHAL. I want to thank the gentlelady from California for calling us and bringing us together to discuss this very important issue.

I stand here and join my colleagues as we put forth responsible solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities and throughout our country. It was my honor to introduce from my district Peggy McCrum, the chapter leader of the Long Beach Area Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, at yesterday's conference hosted by the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Three decades ago, her brother, Robert Kelly, was shot and killed by a complete stranger as he walked to his car, unaware that any peril awaited him. Peggy's brother, Robert; the victims of tragedies that occurred in Newtown and Aurora's mass shooting; and the thousands of Americans whose lives are ended each year by gun violence should serve as a reminder to all of us about the fragility of human life and our ability as Members of Congress to enact commonsense legislation necessary to prevent such horrific tragedies from continuing to devastate innocent Americans.

I stand here today in total support of a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, similar to the gun laws that we have in California. These instruments of mass destruction have no place in our society outside of the military. And I thank my colleagues on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, especially Congressman Thompson and Congresswoman Pelosi, for leading the charge on this effort.

The tragedy of gun violence will not be solved just by banning assault weapons and ammunition alone. We must strengthen our current background check system as well as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. We must increase access to mental health services, we must increase the student-to-counselor ratio in our schools, and we must lift the research ban on the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health. All of these commonsense proposals are crucial to achieving the meaningful reforms that will save countless lives.

As a community psychologist, I understand that early identification and treatment of mental illness is the key to preventing potentially harmful acts. That being said, I am proud to cosponsor Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Student Support Act, as well as Congresswoman Grace Napolitano's Mental Health in Schools Act. Both of these bills will address the growing mental health needs of our Nation's 95,000 students.

I do not believe in taking away any American's Second Amendment rights. Just as you cannot yell ``fire'' in a movie theater, I believe you cannot own and use weapons that are capable of killing 20 school children in a matter of seconds.

To conclude, I think we all must continue to listen to those who have been injured by gun violence, to survivors, to law enforcement, and even to those who speak out against gun law reforms. We will not be able to reach common ground on this issue unless we keep an open mind to all of the voices in America.

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Madam Speaker, I want to thank the gentlelady from California for calling us together to discuss this important issue.

I stand here today to join my colleagues as we put forth responsible solutions to reduce gun violence in our communities and throughout our country.

It was my honor to introduce from my district Peggy McCrum, the Chapter Leader of Long Beach Area Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at yesterday's press conference hosted by the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Three decades ago, her brother Robert Kelly was shot and killed by a complete stranger as he was walking to his parked car--unaware of the perils that awaited him.

It can be all too easy to see Robert as a statistic on a crime map, but he--like all victims of senseless violence--was much, much more. He was a son ..... a brother ..... and a loved one. He was 28 years old; a graduate of Cal State Long Beach who was excited about starting his career at an accounting software firm. That future ..... his future ..... ended all too soon at the hands of a criminal with a gun. To date, the killer has not been found.

None of us are statistics. We are all living, breathing caring people with real lives and hopes and dreams, and we all deserve the freedom to feel safe from gun violence, be it in our schools, our movie theaters, or our streets.

Peggy's brother Robert, the victims of tragedies like the Newtown and Aurora mass shootings, and the thousands of Americans whose lives are ended each year by gun violence, will never be forgotten; they should serve as a reminder to us of the fragility of human life and our ability as members of Congress to enact commonsense legislation necessary to prevent such horrific tragedies from continuing to devastate innocent Americans.

These children, their parents, and all of the families who have been affected by the senseless acts of violence that left our country shocked and in disbelief are counting on us to do something--anything to ensure that they have the freedom to feel safe in their schools and communities.

I stand here today in open support of a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, similar to the gun laws we have in California. These instruments of mass destruction have no place in our society outside of the military, and I thank all of my colleagues on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, especially Congressman THOMPSON and Congresswoman PELOSI, for leading the charge on this effort.

The tragedy of gun violence will not be solved by banning assault weapons and ammunition alone. We must strengthen our current background check system, as well as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) system; we must increase access to mental health services; we must increase the student-to-counselor ratio in our children's schools; and we must lift the research ban on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). All of these commonsense proposals are crucial to achieving meaningful reforms that will save countless lives.

As a Community Psychologist, I understand that the early identification and treatment of mental illnesses is the key to preventing potentially harmful acts. That being said, I am proud to cosponsor Congresswoman BARBARA LEE's Student Support Act and Congresswoman GRACE NAPOLITANO's Mental Health in Schools Act. Both of these bills would address the growing mental health needs in our nation's 95,000 public schools.

The American people want action, and they are demanding a plan. My colleagues, I stand here wanting and demanding a plan. As the President said in his State of the Union address, these victims deserve a vote.

However, I do not, I repeat, I do not believe in taking away any American's Second Amendment right. Just as you cannot yell ``fire'' in a movie theatre, I believe you cannot own weapons capable of killing 20 school children in a matter of seconds. The United States Supreme Court ruling on Heller v. DC clearly stated that there are, indeed, limitations to the Second Amendment, and I stand with that ruling. Heller v. DC was not meant to strip gun owners of the rights, it was meant to instill a greater sense of responsibility that comes with owning a gun.

I am in favor of protecting an individual's right to own a gun; I also want to help create a more accountable gun culture--one that upholds Americans' constitutional right to bear arms, and keeps us safe from harm. The constitutional right to own a gun and the God-given human right to feel safe from gun violence is not mutually exclusive.

I want to conclude by saying that we must all continue to listen to the victims, the survivors, and even those who speak out against gun law reforms; we will not be able to reach common ground on this issue unless we keep an open mind to all of the voices of the American people.

Thank you.

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