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Public Statements

Gun Violence Prevention

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. ESTY. I would like to thank the gentlelady from California for organizing this Special Order hour, and I want to thank you for your longtime leadership on the gun violence prevention issue; and to our friend and colleague Congresswoman McCarthy, for your tireless effort, sadly over decades now, to ensure that this Congress takes action to keep our communities safer.

Last night in this Chamber, people affected by gun violence, including a number of families and officials and first responders from Newtown, were here in this Chamber. I have the honor of representing this small, brave town that now finds itself at the center of this national debate. And, folks, they are the face. They are paying the price of our political inaction.

Among the people here last night was a courageous educator by the name of Natalie Hammond. Natalie was the lead teacher at the Sandy Hook school that day, and she was in the hall trying to stop that madman, and her colleagues on either side were killed and she was seriously injured. She got out of physical therapy and came out publicly for the first time to be here last night to put a human face on the cost of inaction.

These people, as the gentlelady from California suggested, as The New York Times and others have suggested, are so courageous. And they have one question for us: What are we going to do? What is this country going to do to address this epidemic?

The President spoke eloquently, yet very directly, last night about how we must do better as a country. As he said, the families of Newtown deserve a vote.

He is right. Commonsense measures that respect Second Amendment rights, like universal criminal background checks, a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines should, at the very least, be voted on in this Chamber and in the Senate.

The voices of the American people should be heard in this Congress. It's up to us. It's up to us, as elected leaders, to see that these families, that every family touched by gun violence has a vote.

Lynn and Chris McDonnell, the parents of Grace McDonnell, were here in the Chambers last night, as witness to their daughter, who loved pink, who did a beautiful painting, which they gave to the President of the United States.

The McDonnells asked me this morning, they said, you know, Elizabeth, what more can we do to ensure that Congress acts? And I was astounded by the question. To think that this grieving family, what more could they do? It's, what more must we do?

They are doing everything they can to make sure that every Member of Congress understands not only their loss--their loss is America's loss, because every child that was murdered, every life lost on the city streets of our country is a loss that ripples throughout families and communities, lives. We will never know what these people could have done, could have contributed to our society, and it is an enormous hole in the fabric of our country.

The price of inaction is too high. The price of inaction is being paid every day by grieving parents like Lynn and Chris McDonnell.

So I want to thank, again, the gentlelady from California for all you're doing to ensure that we do the right thing here today, that we continue the discussion of this critical issue, that we do not lose our will to take action, and that we do bring about real change to save lives in our communities across this country.

The parents, the families, the children of Newtown deserve no less than our best efforts. We must act.

Thank you very much.

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