BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, it goes without saying we all do our jobs here and we seek a seat in the Senate for a reason. We decided to run for this high office because of issues which deeply motivated us, whether it be more affordable health care, better housing, or lower taxes. In a job like this we are driven to find the issues which move us. Then sometimes there are issues which find us.
When I was elected to the Senate last November, I never imagined my maiden speech would be about guns or about gun violence. I could have never imagined I would be standing here in the wake of 20 young children dying in Sandy Hook or the six adults who protected them. Sometimes issues find you.
Here I am, pleased to have the majority leader, the majority whip, and so many of my colleagues on the Senate floor with me here today.
I wish to start with the unpleasant part. I think it is important for all of my colleagues to understand why we are having this debate this week and next week about gun violence, why for the first time in decades we were able to break the logjam to do something about the waves of gun violence which have plagued this Nation. It is easy to avert our eyes from the horror of what happened in Newtown. It is just easy to close our ears and pretend it didn't happen.
We can't ignore the reality because it is here. On a disturbingly regular basis it is here--in Columbine, Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook. The next town's name is just waiting to be added to the list if we do nothing. Here is what is happening.
Sometime in the early morning hours of December 14, a very disturbed, reclusive young man named Adam Lanza went into his mother's room and shot her dead in her sleep. A few minutes later, maybe hours later, he took his mother's car and drove to Sandy Hook Elementary School. By 9:35 he shot his way through locked doors with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, which was owned by his mother.
He began a methodical 10-minute rampage which left 20 children, all 6 and 7 years old, and six adults who cared for them, dead. In 10 minutes, Adam Lanza shot off 154 rounds from a gun which could shoot up to six bullets a second. This high-powered gun assured every single child Adam Lanza shot died. Lanza shot most kids multiple times. Noah Pozner was shot 11 times alone.
The State's veteran medical examiner, who had been on the job for decades, said he had never seen anything such as this.
Several children did escape. Six kids were courageously hid in a classroom closet by their teacher, Victoria Soto, who shielded her kids from the bullets and died that day. Five other kids ran out of the room when Lanza had trouble reloading. Five kids are alive today because the shooter needed to stop and switch ammunition magazines. Whether it is because he had trouble reloading again or because the police were coming into the building at about 9:45, Lanza turned one of his weapons on himself and the massacre ended, but not before 26 people were dead.
This is reality. The worst reality is if we don't do something right now, it is going to happen again.
It is happening every day. To this country, which has become so callously used to gun violence, it is raindrops, background noise. The reality is the one in which we are losing 30 Americans a day to gun violence.
This chart illustrates how many people have died since December 14 and it is almost unreadable because it is a cast of thousands. This reality is just as unacceptable as what happened in Sandy Hook that day.
The question is, Are we going to do anything about it or will we just sit on our hands as we have for 20 years and accept the status quo with respect to everyday gun violence and these increased incidences of mass shooting? If we are really serious about doing our jobs, we can.
Outside the beltway this isn't a debate; this isn't a discussion. Eighty-seven percent of Americans think we should have universal background checks. Everybody who buys a gun should prove he or she is not a criminal. Two-thirds of Americans think we should restrict these high-capacity ammunition clips. Seventy-six percent of Americans believe we should crack down on people who buy guns legally and then go out and sell them in the community illegally.
The American public knows we need to do something. Why have we been stuck for so long? First, it is because Members of Congress have been listening to the wrong people. We should be listening to gun owners. They are comprised of a lower percentage of Americans than 30 years ago.
About one-third of Americans today own guns, and they are very important constituents. The problem is the NRA doesn't speak for gun owners like it used to.
Yet we listen to that organization more than we should.
Ten years ago the NRA came here and argued for universal background checks in the wake of Columbine. Today they oppose those background checks even though 74 percent of NRA members support universal background checks. I don't know the exact reason for that, but maybe it is because increasingly the NRA is financed not by its members--by everyday, commonsense gun owners--but by the gun industry. Tens of millions of dollars come into the NRA from the gun industry--a program that actually allows the NRA to make a couple bucks off of every gun sold in many gun stores across the country. We are not listening to gun owners. If we were, this wouldn't be a debate in this Chamber.
But secondly, and maybe most importantly, we have really botched a conversation in this place about rights, and rights really are at the core of this debate. When I am back home in Connecticut, I hear a lot of people talking about the right to bear arms as an ``unalienable right'' or a ``God-given right,'' and of course the Constitution makes no such claim. The idea of an unalienable right is actually found in the Declaration of Independence, and it is a phrase we know very well.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
But liberty isn't just about having any gun you want anytime you want it; liberty has to also be about the right to be free from indiscriminate violence. I mean, what kind of liberty did these kids have in that classroom in Newtown, being trapped by an assault weapon-yielding madman? And maybe more importantly, what kind of liberty does a kid just up the street from here in Washington, DC, have when he fears for his life every time he wants to walk to the corner store or walk home from school? That is not the kind of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness our Founding Fathers talked about.
But even if we do accept that part of liberty is owning and using a gun, then we have to ask ourselves these questions: To what degree are our liberties really infringed upon if we just suggest there are a handful of weapons that are too dangerous to own? To what extent are our freedoms trampled upon by just saying you are going to need to reload your semiautomatic weapon after every 10 bullets rather than after every 30 bullets? How gravely do we really risk tyranny when we just moderately restrain the size of a legally purchasable clip?
If liberty is really our chief concern, then preserving and protecting the life of little kids has to weigh pretty favorably against marginally restraining a weapon's payload. If we can't agree on that, what can we agree on?
If we accept this balance, then the policy prescriptions are pretty simple:
First, guns should be available, but they should be available to people of sound mind with no criminal record. We have believed that for a long time. Since the Brady bill was passed, we have had about 2 million people who were stopped from buying guns because they were legally prohibited from doing so. The Brady bill has worked. The problem is that 40 percent of weapons sold in this country don't go through background checks. I hope we will have some good news by the end of the day on this front, but that is a pretty easily accepted premise--criminals shouldn't own guns.
Second, a small number of guns are just too dangerous for retail sale. We have always accepted that premise as well. We have always drawn a line and said some weapons are reserved for military hands, and others can be in the hands of private citizens. We know assault weapons kill, and we know what happened when we banned them the last time: Gun homicides dropped by 37 percent, and nonlethal gun crimes dropped by an equal percentage.
Third, some ammunition too easily enables mass slaughter. What legitimate reason is there for somebody to be able to walk into a movie theater or a religious institution or a school with a 100-round drum of ammunition? Why do we need that--100 rounds, never mind 30 rounds? That doesn't sound too radical, does it?
So what does the gun lobby tell us about these ideas? What do they say is wrong with this approach that is grounded in data and supported by people all across the country? Well, specifically we hear two things over and over again: First, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to have a good guy with a gun, and second, guns don't really kill people, people kill people.
As to the first argument, Newtown is part of the answer. Nancy Lanza probably owned guns for a variety of reasons, but one of the reasons was that she was divorced, she lived alone, and she wanted guns to protect herself. She was alone a lot of the time. The guns Nancy Lanza used weren't used to fire upon intruders into her home; they killed her, and they killed 26 other boys and girls and parents. That is not just an anecdote, that is a reflection of a statistical trend. If you have a gun in your house, it is four times more likely to be used in an accident than it is against an intruder. If you own a gun, it is much more likely to be used to kill you than it is to kill someone trying to break into your home.
As to the second argument, as author Dennis Henigan once put it, guns don't kill people; they just enable people to kill people. Guns are employed in only about 4 percent of felonies, but they are used in 20 percent of all felonies involving bodily injury. Guns enable violence that is vastly more violent.
How do we know this? Well, we know it by what happened at Sandy Hook that day, but more importantly we know it by what happened on that very same day on the entire other side of the world. On the same day that 20 kids died in Newtown, in Henan, China, a madman walked into a school and attacked 23 schoolchildren with a deadly weapon. The same day--20 kids in Newtown, 23 kids in China. In Newtown, all 20 kids who were attacked died; in China, all 23 kids who were attacked lived. Why? Because in Henan, the assailant had a knife, not a gun that could spray six bullets a second.
So forgive me if I dismiss those--like the president of the NRA--who choose to ignore the effect of the laws we are debating this week and next week. He said all we are talking about here is feel-good legislation. Well, he is right about one thing: It would feel really good if Daniel Barden got on the bus this morning to go to school. Daniel was an immensely compassionate little kid. He was always sitting next to the kids in school who sat alone. He never left a room without turning the lights off. When his family would go to the grocery store, they would leave the store and get halfway across the parking lot and turn around and Daniel wouldn't be there because he was still holding the door open for people who needed a way out. And he loved s'mores.
It would feel really good if Ana Marquez Greene could still sing all those songs she loved. She sang and performed everywhere she went. She came from a very musical family. Her mom said that she didn't walk anywhere, that her preferred mode of transportation was dancing. She loved most to sing and dance in church. She loved it when her parents read to her from the Bible.
It would feel really good if Ben Wheeler got to enjoy this beautiful spring day outside today. He was a piano virtuoso. He had already done a recital when he was 6 years old. But what he really loved was playing outside with his older brother Nate. They loved to play soccer together. The morning he was killed, he told his mom, as they were leaving for school, he wanted to be a paleontologist when he grew up. He said, ``That's what Nate's going to be, and I want to do everything that Nate does.''
So that is our task--to beat back all the naysayers who say that we can't do this, that we won't change the way things are. I believe we can. I believe we are good enough to drown out the voices of the status quo and the lobbyists and the political consultants. I think that in the next couple of weeks we are good enough to change the way things are.
Finally, I want to tell you one last story to explain why I know we are good enough. I believe that when we see people in need, when we see children stripped of their dignity, we are too compassionate a people to close our eyes. I know sometimes we wonder what we really are inside. Are we truly good or is goodness a learned behavior? And it may sound strange, but after December 14, I just know the former to be true, because after enduring the shooting, as if to swallow up those 10 minutes of evil, millions of acts of infinite kindness rained down on Newtown, from the teachers who protected those kids, to the firefighters who didn't leave that firehouse for days afterward, to the millions of actions of humanity and gifts and phone calls that came in from the rest of the world.
And because of Anne Marie Murphy. Anne Marie was a special education teacher charged with the care of Dylan Hockley, this little boy, a wonderful, gentle little 6-year-old boy who was living with autism but doing great at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Anne Marie loved Dylan, and Dylan loved Anne Marie back. There was a picture on his refrigerator of Anne Marie, and almost every day he would point to Anne Marie with pride to his parents.
Nicole, his mom, who is here this week, said at Dylan's funeral that when she realized Dylan wasn't going to show up at the firehouse that day with all the other kids who were returning from the school, she hoped she would see Mrs. Murphy, but she knew she wouldn't. She knew Anne Marie wouldn't leave Dylan's side if he was in danger. And she didn't. When the bullets started flying, she brought Dylan into her arms. She held him tight inside that classroom. And that is just how the two of them were found.
On Monday, Nicole flew down here to Washington with President Obama and me to try to make the case that things need to change for Dylan, for Anne Marie, and for the thousands of other people before and after who have been killed by guns.
As Nicole and the other parents walked up the steps of Air Force One, one mom raised a piece of paper above her head with a note she had scribbled on it that day, and the cameras caught the moment. The note simply said ``Love Wins.'' I believe today more than I ever have before that if we are truly doing our job in this Chamber, then love has to win every single time.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. MURPHY. Madam President, I thank my colleague from Florida for those very thoughtful remarks and, of course, my colleague, the senior Senator from Connecticut.
We are here on the floor today to help lead a discussion about how this Nation can finally own up to its responsibility to take on the scourge of gun violence that has certainly been highlighted by the massacre in Sandy Hook that I spoke about earlier today in my first speech before this Chamber. But it has, frankly, become too routine throughout the streets of this country, with 3,000 to 4,000 people having lost their lives to gun violence since Sandy Hook happened.
Lost in a lot of the debate here about the particular policy prescriptions we are talking about, whether it be universal background checks supported by 90 percent of Americans or a ban on high-capacity magazines supported by two-thirds of Americans or a Federal law ending illegal gun trafficking supported by three-fourths of Americans, lost amidst all of the political back-and-forth over negotiations between Republicans and Democrats and the pronouncements of the NRA and of gun control groups, lost amidst all of that debate about politics and policy are the victims.
The victims are the people--boys and girls, men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters--who die every single day in this country. I described it this morning--like raindrops. It is just background noise to this country now, the number of people who are dying every day.
I decided after having given my maiden speech this morning that I would come back to this floor--not to occupy the floor or commandeer the floor, but to the extent that there is time today and tomorrow and next week, to spend time on this floor telling the stories of the victims, telling the stories of the individual people whose lives were tragically cut short by guns--because it happens here more so than almost every other nation in the world. More people lose their lives, more people have their lives ended prematurely because of guns here than almost any other corner of the world.
It is time that we do something about it. Yes because of the aggregate numbers, yes because of the horror in Sandy Hook, but also because every single additional life that is cut short is a failure of our responsibility to do something about it. So I am going to spend some time down on the Senate floor in between others giving speeches today and tomorrow and next week to talk about these victims, to just tell you a little bit about who they are--especially for the little ones, maybe who they were going to be.
Let me start in Newtown. Let me start in Sandy Hook. We can put up some pictures of just a handful of the victims from Sandy Hook and from cities across this country. Let me start with the little guy in the middle, Daniel Barden. I talked about him this morning.
Daniel was a pretty amazing little boy. His parents talked about the unbelievable compassion he had. I talked about it this morning. He never failed to turn off a light when he left a room. He was always the kid in school who was sitting with the kid who did not have anybody to sit with. When his parents would leave a grocery store they would get halfway across the grocery store parking lot, turn around, and Daniel wasn't with them because he was still holding the door open for other people who were leaving the store. He was a pretty amazing little kid. He loved to spend time with his family. He loved riding the waves at the beach. You can see with that long hair he was a beach bum.
He played drums in a band with his brother James and sister Natalie. His family is very musical, so on that morning his father, who is a professional musician--he is here this week, actually--taught him how to play Jingle Bells.
He woke up very early that morning. It was funny because he was the last of the three kids to go to school. They were all in separate schools. His parents thought it was strange that on that morning he woke up early. In fact it was the first day all year--this was December 14, so they had been in school for months--it was the first day in the entire year that Daniel had awaken before his oldest sibling went to school.
As the oldest sibling was walking down the driveway to go to school, Daniel ran after him to tell him that he loved him. The first time, he had never done that all year. It just shows what a compassionate little kid Daniel was. I actually wear a bracelet for Daniel. It is a bracelet that links to a Facebook page called ``What Would Daniel Do?'' It has 16,000 ``likes.'' The point of this page is people can hear about a lot of these kids. The families have done a lot of amazing things to try to spread the word about who these kids were and what they were going to be. Daniel's page is, ``What Would Daniel Do?'' It is a forum for people to invest in little acts of kindness to try to live up to the inspiration this little 6-year-old set for his family and his neighborhood.
So people posted stories on that Web site for the last several months about these little kind acts they performed: For example, the woman who bought coffee and donuts for a firehouse in her home State of New York, the Missouri woman who helped restock a food pantry in Daniel's honor, the Illinois woman who paid for a stranger's meal and on the back of the bill wrote: ``Love, from Daniel Barden.''
Daniel was going to grow up to be an amazing young man. He loved life. He did amazing things for people. But we did not get to know Daniel Barden later in life because he was gunned down that day in Sandy Hook.
Let me tell the story of someone equally amazing whom we got to know for 20 more years than the kids that she was charged with looking after. Her name is one that you might know, and that is Victoria Soto. Victoria Soto was 27 years old. She was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School. That is what she wanted to do. She had wanted to be a teacher, her mom said, since she was 3 years old. Imagine knowing what you want to do when you are 3 years old and sticking with it. A lot of people think they know what they want to do when they are 3, but they change their minds. She did not. She worked every day from the time she was 13 to get ready to be a teacher. As early as 13 she was charting out her classes so she could ultimately be a teacher. Even when she got to Sandy Hook Elementary School she made time for night classes at Southern Connecticut State University where she was getting her master's degree in special education.
A mentor of hers said she was the last one who would have wanted hero status, but nobody was surprised to hear what she did in that classroom that day. When Adam Lanza walked into her classroom, Victoria Soto was the only person he saw. Why? Because she had ushered her special education teacher, Anne Marie Murphy, and several of her kids under a desk. She had pushed a number of other kids into a closet to hide them. Lanza came into the classroom, he faced her and killed her. Then he killed the kids who were under the desk. The kids who hid in the closet, many of them lived. Many of them survived--they were discovered after the incident--because of the heroic actions of this one 27-year-old teacher.
Imagine what she could have done with the rest of her life. Students loved her. Parents loved her. She was made for teaching. Think of all of the impact. She probably had 30 more years in the classroom. She had hundreds if not thousands of kids she still could have touched with her life--gone. Victoria Soto's genius as a teacher will no longer be able to be realized because of what happened that day.
If we do not do something about it, Victoria Soto will not be the last teacher who is going to be gunned down. If we don't take some steps here this will not be the last selfless educator we will mourn on the Senate floor.
Let me tell a little about Charlotte Bacon, 6 years old. I lost count of the number of funerals and wakes that I went to, but I do remember Charlotte's funeral. She had this crazy head of curly red hair. She was described by her family as sweet and outgoing and exuberant, someone who was willing to argue for whatever she believed in, even at 6 years old. She loved the color pink, and she loved animals--any animal she met--but she really loved her golden retriever. She wanted to become a veterinarian. A lot of these kids we will hear about today knew what they wanted to do with their lives. These were ambitious kids, in part because they had special parents as well.
She was really looking forward to Christmas because she wanted to show off this new pink dress and pink boots she had gotten. It was a Christmas outfit, so she was waiting until Christmas to be able to show it off. But on the morning of December 14--again, another theme we will hear is that these strange things happened that morning--that morning she woke up and she wanted to wear that pink dress. She wanted to wear those pink boots, and her mother let her do it. She wore that special pink dress and those boots to school on Friday, December 14.
Her family has established a nonprofit called Newtown Kindness. The organization is comprised of community members who were trying to bring positivity and strength back to the Newtown community. I talked this morning about the fact that for many of us who have lived through this tragedy--not anywhere close to the way in which the victims' families have--but what we see Newtown defined by is not the 10 minutes of violence and evil, but all the millions of acts of humanity that have spilled forth from inside the community and from outside the community in the days and weeks since, and this is what Newtown Kindness is about. It is encouraging children to do their own acts of kindness like Charlotte did and submit their stories through drawings and letters to the organization. Newtown Kindness is going to show some light on all these little wonderful things that kids do every day in the same way that Charlotte did for the kids she loved and the family members she loved and for the animals she loved.
Let me talk a little bit about another teacher, Rachel Davino. Rachel was very much like Victoria, in that she knew she wanted to work with kids. She had a lot of interests, Rachel Davino did. She was born in Waterbury, received her undergraduate degree from Hartford, she got her masters from Post University. She loved animals. That is probably why she connected with a lot of these kids. She loved baking and photography and karate. She drew lots of things, loved to draw animals--dogs, frogs, anything with scales or feathers or fur she loved to draw. But her passion was working as a behavioral therapist, working with kids with autism. There were a number of kids in these classrooms who had autism. They were doing great because of the work of people like Rachel and Anne Marie Murphy, who reached out to work with these kids.
Rachel was exceptional because she integrated these kids into her daily life. She brought the kids to her home. She involved the kids in her family. She treated the kids like family and they matured. They did better under her care.
She probably didn't know it when she died, but her best friend and her boyfriend, Tony, was about to propose to her. In fact he had already gone to her parents to ask permission to ask to marry her. He was going to do it on Christmas Eve, just 10 days after the incident. He didn't get to ask for Rachel's hand in marriage. Instead, the wedding ring he had planned to present to her was placed on her finger before she was buried.
Rachel was an amazing teacher, an amazing person who invested herself in these kids, day in and day out. It would have been great to know what Rachel Davino would have become as she matured as an educator.
This is just a sampling of the stories from 1 day in Newtown, CT. Fewer kids and adults died in Newtown that day than die every day across this country. We think how exceptional it was and how awful and how horrific that we lost 20 kids and 6 adults--and, by the way, 2 others in Adam Lanza and his mother--yet that number is less than the average number of people who are killed every day by gun violence across this country. So I want to talk about them too. I want to talk about just over the last couple of weeks and months what we have witnessed across this country.
I want to talk about Hadiya Pendleton in Chicago. We have heard a lot about her because she was here for the Presidential inauguration. She was performing with her school's majorette team in the President's inauguration festivities. She loved performing. She was an honor student at King College Prep High School in Chicago. She was 15 years old.
She is remembered by her friends as somebody who was always raising her hand in class. She had all the right answers in that chemistry class. She wore bright lip gloss that made her stand out. She loved to dance. She danced on the Praise Dance Ministry in her church, and she was a member of her cheerleading team as well. She liked Chinese food, she loved Fig Newtons. She was thinking about going to college, thinking about either journalism or pharmacology, two pretty different things. Either way, she wanted to go to Harvard. She knew where she wanted to go.
She was 15 years old. She was shot and killed while standing with her friends in a park in Chicago after she took her final exams, just days after she came back from Washington, DC, probably one of the most amazing experiences in her life.
I watched some of that parade, and I always think to myself whether I saw her performing with her majorette team. She was 15 years old. She was going to go to Harvard. She was going to become a journalist or a great dancer. All the things we missed just because she was standing in the way of a bullet at a park with her friends after she took her final exams.
I think about Lavanial Williams, who
in January of this year, was visiting with his mother and two sisters in Marin City, CA, to celebrate his 17th birthday. He was checking in on his sister April to make sure she was fine because there was some suspicious activity going on in the housing complex that day. He went downstairs to check out the commotion, and moments later he was shot dead just because he walked down some stairs to check out some commotion.
The deputies who arrived on the scene found a group of people trying to revive the teenager by CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. He had been hit by several bullets. He was there visiting his mother and two sisters to celebrate his 17th birthday. Lavanial Williams died on January 11, 2013.
If we talk about the connection to the background checks piece of this discussion, we could talk about Annemarie Bautch. She returned home after dropping off her kids at school on April 8--just a week or so ago--in Milwaukee. Her live-in boyfriend pulled in behind her in a taxicab he drove for hire. He walked to her van's window and shot her in the head. He then took his gun and turned it on himself.
He was on probation for recent domestic violence incidences involving his daughter. He had beaten up his daughter. He had firearms arrests going back 20 years. He was a convicted felon, and he was prohibited from carrying weapons. I don't have in front of me why he had the weapon that day or how he got it, but he was not supposed to have it. He had a long rap sheet when it came to convictions regarding firearms.
He was ordered to undergo anger management training after his most recent conviction, but it is unclear as to whether that ever happened. He is not here to answer those questions and neither is his girlfriend Annmarie who died that day at the age of 39 after dropping her kids off at school.
Earlier this week in Akron, OH, there was a 28-year-old man who was fatally shot while taking garbage to a trash bin in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant at which he worked. He was taking garbage to a trash dump and he was shot and died. His name has not been released, but he had been working at that McDonald's for 10 years. His coworkers said: ``He was the kind of person who would give you his last dollar.'' He would give his coworkers gifts on holidays--Christmas and Thanksgiving. He worked in McDonald's. He could not have had a lot of money to go out and buy gifts for coworkers. He worked at that place for a decade. Because of his generous nature with whatever money he had, that he scraped together, he made sure people knew he loved them.
He was 28 years old when he died earlier this week in Akron, OH.
This stuff is happening every day. I mean, I will keep on going through them, but this is happening every day throughout this country. People are dying on our streets by casual gun violence while bringing garbage to a dumpster outside a McDonald's, walking down the stairs to check out some commotion at a sister's housing complex, and pulling into a driveway after dropping their kids off at school. These were not people who were going out and looking for trouble. These were people who were just doing their regular everyday business.
President Obama came to Connecticut on Monday, and he told the story of a mother who was so frustrated at the phrase regarding her daughter's death due to gun violence that her daughter was ``in the wrong place at the wrong time.'' She just happened to be in the way of a stray bullet. Her mother's point was, no; she was in the right place at the right time. She was walking to school.
This guy was bringing garbage to the dumpster. Anne Marie was coming home after dropping off her kids. Lavanial was just looking out for his sister. They were not in the wrong place at the wrong time, they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. Yet they were gunned down. We have no answer? After 20 years of this, we are not able to step up and do something about it? It is like raindrops. It has just become routine.
Let me go back to Newtown and talk more about these kids. Olivia Rose Engel was a bright-eyed, brunette, 6-year-old girl. She loved school. She particularly loved reading and math, which is good because a lot of what first graders do is reading and math. If you love reading and math, you are probably in good shape.
Her favorite stuffed animal was a lamb, and her favorite colors were--a theme we will hear often--pink and purple. She was set to play an angel in her church's nativity play on the night of the tragedy. She laughed a lot, and her parents said she just lit up a room when she walked in.
Olivia played soccer and tennis, and she took art classes. She loved swimming and ballet classes, and she took hip-hop dance lessons. She was also involved in her Daisy Girl Scouts. Every night when they gathered for dinner, her family would have Olivia say grace.
She was a great big sister. Olivia really loved her little 3-year-old brother Brayden. She was killed that day in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Josephine Gay celebrated her seventh birthday just 3 days before the tragedy. Joey is what she was called by her family. She was a kid with an indomitable spirit. She was autistic, as were a handful of these kids, but she was still social. She was very affectionate. She was getting very good care from some of these paraprofessionals who were there.
She grew up--actually not too far from here--in Maryland with a house full of Ravens fans. Josephine fell in love with the color purple. I don't know if she bought into the Ravens as a team yet, but she loved the color purple. She had a great sense of humor; she smiled all the time.
She loved hugs even though she participated in rigorous therapy for her disability. She had treatment on a daily basis. She did it without
complaining. She loved her Barbie dolls, her iPad, and her computer. She loved to sing and swim and be anywhere her sisters were. Joey Gay was killed that day at age 7 in Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I want to talk about Avielle Richman. I have gotten to know Avielle's parents pretty well over the course of the last few months. Frankly, I have gotten to know a lot of these families over the last few months.
Avielle's parents have done something remarkable, which I will mention, but first I will talk about Avielle.
Guess what color Avielle loved. She loved the color pink. She loved to wear her pink cowboy boots and adored riding her pony Betty. She turned 6 years old just about 2 months before the tragedy.
She moved from Connecticut a few years ago from San Diego. She loved San Diego. She was barefoot all the time. She would run on the beaches of San Diego until the Sun went down. Her relatives used to joke about how hard it was to get shoes on Avielle even after moving to Connecticut. When she lived in San Diego, she never used to wear shoes, so she certainly was not going to wear them even in a colder climate like Connecticut.
She had curly brown hair and an infectious smile. Her parents kept a blog about her. They called her their little hummingbird. She loved horseback riding, swimming, ice skating, and superhero adventures. She loved pretending to be a superhero. She loved the movie ``Brave,'' and Avielle tried out archery, which is a brave thing for her parents to do as well. She tried out archery because of her love for the movie.
Before her life was taken that December, Avielle was obsessed with an Easy Bake Oven she was hoping to get for Christmas.
Her parents are scientists, and in the wake of Avielle's death, they started a nonprofit to raise money to try to get to the root cause of the illness that caused someone like Adam Lanza to pick up a gun. That is an amazing thing for the Richmans to do. I talked about a number of efforts that have been taken, whether it is a Facebook page for Daniel Barden, a Web site to try to encourage kids to engage in acts of kindness, or what Avielle's parents did. This is an amazing thing for them to do. While they are grieving, they are trying to find a silver lining in all of this.
The Richmans' hope is that they can use the memory of their precious 6-year-old daughter to go out and raise money to try to research the causes of the illness that led to this tragedy. It is an illness. We talk about it in terms of evil, and I have certainly used that term. It is really illness masquerading as evil.
The Richmans are going to do their part to raise money to try to do a better job to figure out what is going on in the brain to cause someone to leave their parents' home, drive to an elementary school, and start shooting, or walk up to a McDonald's employee as they are delivering garbage to the dumpster and shoot them. It is a different kind of illness, I suppose, but it deserves examination nonetheless.
The Richmans are heroic in the fact that they have decided to reach out and try to make this discovery.
Another teacher to talk about is Lauren Rousseau. She wanted to be a teacher so badly. She was 30 years old. Up to the point she was hired as a full-time substitute teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary, she spent 6 years working at part-time jobs just to make ends meet so she could substitute teach during the day. During that 6-year period of time, she was looking for a full-time job, and she finally found it. That October she had been hired in Newtown to be a full-time substitute teacher. It is just what Lauren wanted to do, and she was really good at it. She was literally on the verge of realizing that 6-year dream when her life was taken.
She was very bubbly and outgoing. She spent the morning of December 14 looking forward to a movie she was going to see that night with her friends and her boyfriend, ``The Hobbit.'' She was a huge fan of Tolkien, so it was a big deal to see ``The Hobbit'' that evening, and that is what she was talking about that morning.
She loved animals too. She was passionate about doing something about child poverty. Part of the reason she went into education was she believed she needed to live her life in a way that was going to reach out and eradicate the scourge of child poverty.
Purple was her favorite color, and so everybody at her funeral wore the color purple.
She was a huge UConn basketball fan. In particular, she was a big fan of the UConn women's basketball team. So if Lauren is looking down from up above, she is very happy because her UConn women are national champions again. She would have been watching that game last night, and hopefully she was.
Lauren Rousseau was right there. Her dream was within her grasp, what she had worked for all of her life, and in an instant it was gone.
Teachers, little girls, and little boys who could have been great people, great educators--they could have been dancers and singers. Daniel Barden said he wanted to be a paleontologist just like his older brother. He could have done great things, but he is gone.
This isn't the first massacre we have seen. Daniel Barden and Ana Marquez-Green and Dylan Hockley and Benjamin Wheeler--these are all kids who were killed in Newtown, CT, but unfortunately Newtown is just the latest in a line of mass shootings. Forty percent of the mass shootings that have happened in this Nation's history have happened since the assault weapons ban expired. Forty percent of all of the mass shootings in this Nation's history have happened in the last 8 years--8 years--since the assault weapons ban expired. I am not an expert in cause and correlation, but that cannot be a coincidence. It can't be a coincidence because we also know that during those 10 years of the assault weapons ban, along with a ban on high-capacity magazines that was in effect, we saw a 37-percent decrease in gun violence. We saw a two-thirds decrease in the crimes committed with assault weapons. Those are real numbers, real reductions in overall gun violence and in gun violence perpetrated with these dangerous assault weapons. But the minute that ban was lifted, a dramatic increase in these mass shootings occurred.
Newtown was the second worst school shooting. It is seared in our memories in a different way because these were precious, young, little kids, and we can't help but grieve in a fundamentally different way for 6- and 7-year-olds. But Virginia Tech was worse. Still to this day, Virginia Tech saw the highest number of people gunned down. So I wish to talk about a few of those people.
Ross Alameddine was a Virginia Tech sophomore. He loved computer games, and he actually played a lot of them competitively. He was very much into home computer repair, and it was something he wanted to do with his life. His customers always loved him because they would bring their computers to him and he was one of the few people who knew how to fix them.
He did a lot of stuff outside of his fascination with computers. He loved rollerblading, whether it was in between classes or going out for long rollerblading expeditions on nice days. He loved movies, and he loved music. He played the piano, and he actually sang at a local coffeehouse. He had a fondness for language. He had strong opinions too. He was part of the debate club at Austin Prep, where he went to school. He talked in every single one of these classes. We know these kids who always have something to say, and Ross was definitely one of them.
He loved life. He sought to make other people laugh. He used his music to do that. One of his classmates, Liz Hardwick, remembered his many qualities. She said that Ross's wit, humor, and insightfulness made him so much fun to be around, but his caring for others was also always present. Ross was one of the 32 victims killed during the Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007.
Christopher James Bishop--``Jamie'' Bishop--was a German teacher who was shot at the age of 35. He was a dedicated husband and son. He was a gentle colleague. He was a really generous friend.
He had a long ponytail that he wore. That was kind of Jamie's signature. But he didn't keep the ponytail for long because once he grew it, he would regularly cut his hair and donate it to Locks of Love. He was doing it for style reasons, I am sure, but he saw his ponytail as a means to donate to other people who needed some help.
He was another techno guru. He knew a lot about complicated gadgets, and one of those was cameras. He was a great technician with a camera, but he was also a very avid photographer. Jamie leaves behind a lot of wonderful art that captured the intensity and the beauty that surrounded him in Blacksburg.
He hailed from a very small town--Pine Mountain, GA--and he was a big fan of the Atlanta Braves, so he would probably be pretty excited about the start the Atlanta Braves have had this year.
He was a foreign language teacher. He was a tough teacher--``Herr Bishop'' is what they called him--but he really believed that understanding language was a way for people to engage in the world. It was a joy, but it was really fundamental to understanding humanity. If people understand languages, they understand different cultures and they understand something more about what it means to be a human being in this world. Jamie believed in what he did not just because he wanted to teach kids German but because he wanted to teach kids about the world. He died at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, at the age of 35.
Brian Bluhm was a graduate student. He was a TA at Virginia Tech. He cared about water resources--something we actually are going to be talking about here pretty soon--something not a lot of graduate students think about. He cared deeply about a just distribution of water assets across the country, and that is what he was working on at Virginia Tech.
But his real love was for God. He was dedicated to building a relationship through his church with his God.
He was one of the friendliest guys one could ever meet, his friends said. He had a smile for everybody.
He was a big sports fan. Brian grew up with a passion for sports, particularly baseball, and his favorite team was the Detroit Tigers. He was one of these guys who follow everything about their favorite team. He watched all the games, but when the Tigers weren't playing in the winter and in the early spring, he would be analyzing every statistic from the past season and getting ready for the next season. He also loved Virginia Tech sports, especially football and basketball. He was one of those people others would see on TV who came to all of the games with the colors on their chests to show their support.
His family says he will be remembered for his love of God, family, friends, the Detroit Tigers, and Virginia Tech. He was lost that day, April 16, 2007, as well.
Ryan Christopher Clark was known to his friends as ``Stack.'' He maintained a 4.0 GPA when he was a student at Virginia Tech, and he was a kid who had a mastery of science. He had a triple major. I didn't even know one could have a triple major, but Stack had a triple major in psychology, biology, and English. Can my colleagues imagine what Stack was going to be able to do with his life? Can we imagine what he would have been able to contribute in his life with a triple major?
He was a leader on campus. He played baritone in the Marching Virginians university band, and he was a resident adviser. So he was doing great things on campus and passing along a lot of knowledge to kids underneath him.
His friends said: He was a wonderful part of our baritone section. He was fun. He was loving. He was a delightful person to be around. He cared so much for other people. He would befriend anyone. He was a light and he was a joy.
Ryan Christopher Clark was going to do great things with his life. He was a student leader. At his young age, he had already shown a compassion for his fellow students by being a resident adviser. He had shown a talent for music by going out and performing in the band, and he was a triple major who was probably going to do something great in the scientific field in this country. But Stack didn't get to live that dream because, along with so many others, he was gunned down that day at Virginia Tech.
Virginia Tech, Newtown, Aurora, Tucson--these are just the mass shootings. I will keep on going, but these victims just don't end. Stack on top of that 40, 50, 60 people every day being killed on our streets. It is important to talk about these victims. That is why I wanted to come to the floor today to do this, because if we don't do something in the next 2 weeks, these lists are going to grow.
The illegal guns used on the streets of Chicago and Bridgeport and New Haven and Washington, DC, and New York weren't always illegal guns. They were legal guns before they became illegal guns. Somewhere along the line, their status transferred. The question is, What can we do to stop that transfer from happening?
I believe in the second amendment. I believe in the protection that it affords people to own a gun, to be able to hunt or to shoot for sport or to protect themselves. But I want to make sure guns stay in the ``legal'' category and don't leach into the ``illegal'' category. That is why 90 percent of Americans think we should have a law in this Nation that provides for universal, mandatory background checks for everybody who buys a gun. That is a really simple thing to do.
This is just a sampling of the lives that could have been protected. The gun used in Newtown went through a background check, but so many of the guns used to kill boys and girls and young adults and men and women in our cities don't go through background checks. We think about 40 percent of guns sold across this country don't go through background checks.
One of the tragedies in this long line is directly relevant to this bill. At Columbine High School, the gun used was bought outside of the background check system, and the friend of the shooter's who bought the gun said after the incident that the reason she bought it with the method she did was because had she gone to a gun store, it wouldn't have passed the background check. That is the gun show loophole. What has it been--a decade-plus since Columbine, and we still haven't closed the gun show loophole? We still haven't made the collective decision that we should make sure criminals don't buy guns? She said she couldn't have bought the gun if she went to a licensed gun dealer because it would have been prohibited. So a bunch of kids died at Columbine High School.
Someone could make the argument that if the gun hadn't gotten in their hands that way, it might have gotten in their hands another way. I get it. Nothing we are talking about guarantees that another Sandy Hook isn't going to happen, and it certainly can't guarantee that our streets are going to all of a sudden be safer overnight. But if we make it a little bit harder to get that gun, if we make it a little bit more difficult for a criminal to get his hands on a weapon, the chances look a whole lot better to survive on the streets of our cities or in our schools and mosques and movie theaters.
As Senator Blumenthal pointed out, I can absolutely make the case that if we had stronger laws on the books today, Newtown may not have happened, and even if it did happen, some of these kids would be alive today.
What happened in one of those classrooms is instructive. A handful of kids survived because Victoria Soto put them into a closet, and when the shooting was over, they were discovered in that closet.
Another set of kids survived a different way. When Lanza went to switch magazines, there was a delay in the shooting and a bunch of kids ran out of the classroom. Five of them--six were found in the closet, and five of them ran out of the classroom when Lanza decided to switch magazine clips. There are five kids who don't look much different from Ana and Daniel and Dylan and Benjamin who are--and Jesse, there is Jesse--who are alive today because Adam Lanza had to switch clips. He only had to do it about 6 times to get off 154 bullets. We don't exactly understand why, but he didn't actually discharge all of his 30-round clips. Sometimes he only shot about 10 or 15 bullets before he switched, but some of them he went straight through. He only had to switch clips we think about 6 times to get off 154 bullets in 10 minutes.
If we had on the books today a law such as the law we had back in the 1990s and early 2000s that restricted ammunition clips to 10 rounds--an amendment Senator Blumenthal and I will bring to the floor next week, either an amendment or in a separate bill--that shooter would have had to change ammunition clips 15 times--9 more opportunities for kids to run out of the classroom. I know we can't guarantee that things would have been different, but let me tell my colleagues there are an awful lot of parents in Newtown who believe their sons or daughters might likely be alive today had we continued to have a restriction limiting ammunition clips to 10 rounds.
What we know is that in Tucson, people would be alive today because that incident absolutely stopped when the shooter switched clips. It was during the transfer of ammunition magazines that he was tackled. We know that if he had 10 rounds rather than a higher number, there would still be people alive there.
We know what happened in the movie theater in Aurora. That guy walked into the movie theater with a 100-round drum. What on Earth is the reason why somebody needs a 100-round drum? It jammed because these guys are amateurs.
They have not done this before. People say: It is not going to make a difference--10 rounds, 30 rounds--because it takes 3 seconds to switch clips, so it is not going to provide any different outcome.
For a professional shooter, it takes 3 seconds. But for a nervous 21-year-old kid, hyped up on adrenaline, it is a different thing. Five kids escaped in Newtown; the shooting stopped in Tucson; the shooting stopped when the gun jammed upon exchange of magazines in Aurora. People are alive today because there is something that happens when you have to exchange magazines in these incidents of mass violence. More exchanges of magazines mean more kids alive today.
Let me talk to you about Porshe Foster. She was 15 years old when she was killed over the Thanksgiving holiday last year in Chicago. She had five sisters--six daughters, and Porshe was the youngest of them. Porshe was 15, and she was shot in the back of the head when she was standing with her best friends in a backyard during a sleepover.
The intended victim was a gang-related individual. They were targeting somebody else, but she got hit. Twenty-five shots were fired, by the way. Twenty-five shots were fired. Porshe was the only victim that was hit.
She was a sophomore at ACE Tech. It is a charter school that specializes in getting kids ready for college in architecture and construction and engineering. This is exactly the kind of student we wanted, where, on the floor of the Senate and the House of Representatives, we are all the time clamoring for more girls to go into STEM education--into science, technology, engineering, and math. Porshe was doing it. She was living up to our expectations. She was going to a charter school. It was going to get her ready to go into a career in architecture, construction or engineering. Imagine what she could have done if she lived beyond the age of 15.
She played volleyball and she played basketball. She sang in the church choir. She loved art. Her classmates actually honored her death by holding an art sale in her memory. Because funerals are expensive, especially in inner-city Chicago, they used the proceeds from the art sale to pay for Porshe's funeral.
Let me tell you, that is no small expense. We do not think about that, but one of the biggest issues in Hartford, CT, today--a city that has had relatively low gun violence this year but on an average year can have a couple dozen gun deaths--is how do you pay for the funerals, how do you come up with the money as a community to pay for a funeral every other week in a small, little city such as Hartford. Porshe's friends decided to do an art sale to pay for her funeral.
Her family and friends remember her as happy, as friendly, as a great student, always busy, someone ``you couldn't be quiet around.''
Her five sisters had planned to give their youngest sister a guitar for Christmas. She was killed on November 26, 2012, about a month before she was going to get that guitar.
I know there are other people who are here to speak, and so I will yield the floor at this time. But I will be back today and tomorrow to talk about more victims. I just think we need to tell their stories. I just think the people need to know who these people are because there are going to be more of them if things do not change, and we have the power this week and next week to do something about it--not to eliminate future victims. We are never, ever going to change the fact that people are going to pick up a gun, are going to violate the law, are going to shoot to kill. We are never going to stop that. But we can do something to reduce these numbers so next year at this time or 2 years at this time we cannot come down to the floor with a binder full of victims just from the past 3 months.
I will be back later today and tomorrow to continue to do this, but at this time I yield the floor.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I rise again to continue my attempt on the floor of the Senate today, without holding up the Senate or allowing others to speak their mind, to really draw attention to the names, faces, and reality behind this chart. This is probably difficult to see for some of my colleagues because it represents the over 3,300 people who have died since December 14, since the Newtown tragedy. Over 3,300 people have died from gun violence since December 14 and are represented by all of these individual figurines, which are so many that the picture becomes muddled. It almost looks like lines going back and forth. Behind each one of those small, tiny figurines is a story of a man, woman, little boy, or little girl who had their life stolen from them and from their family prematurely because of gun violence.
I wish there weren't enough material to fill today, tomorrow, and next week, when others aren't on the floor speaking. I wish there weren't 3,300 stories in the last several months alone with respect to people who have died from gun violence, but that is the reality.
The reality is that this Nation has become callous over time to the everyday incidents of gun violence that have happened on our streets, in my cities of Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven, and also in your cities of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Baltimore.
We have come to believe, over the course of the last 20 years since we passed the last major gun violence initiative, through the Congress, that we can't do anything, that we are powerless. We have come to delude ourselves of that fact.
I gave my first speech on the floor of the Senate this morning, and I have been moved to come back and spend time today talking about the victims as a means to try to move us to do something. We know what we need to do because people out there have already decided what it is. Ninety percent of Americans support the universal background checks. Two-thirds of Americans support a ban on these high-capacity magazine clips. We haven't figured it out for ourselves.
I wish to speak for a few minutes about these victims. I will start these remarks with a school near Littleton, CO. Columbine High School, on the morning of April 20, 1999, was visited by two very disturbed young men who walked into the school. Their names were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and they opened fire in the school. They killed and injured 12 more. It was at the time certainly one of the worst instances of mass shooting in a school this country had ever seen. Of course, it has now been eclipsed by what happened at Virginia Tech and what happened in my State last December 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At the time, it shocked the Nation because we didn't know how to comprehend 10 students going about their day at Columbine High School being gunned down by 2 of their fellow students. Now we are grappling with how to comprehend the deaths of 20 kids, 6- and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Although it has now been almost 14 years since the incident on April 20--we are about to come up on the anniversary--we shouldn't forget the people who were killed. Before the next Senator comes down wishing to speak, I will speak about those kids who were killed in Columbine.
Cassie Bernall was a really sweet, kind little girl. She was active in her church. Her work in her church meant so much to her that after she died her parents set up the Cassie Bernall Foundation, which provides support to youth ministries. I was a part of my youth group in my church growing up, and I know what a wonderful connection it is, both to God and to your fellow adolescents. It was a big deal for her. She also was fascinated with the United Kingdom, and she had a dream to attend Cambridge University. She wanted to become an obstetrician.
Today Cassie would be about 30 years old. She would most likely have completed her training and would be in a residency or be a practicing OB/GYN. We spend a lot of time talking about the fact that we need more preventive care doctors practicing medicine. Cassie was gunned down that day. She didn't get to live her dream or contribute to a field we know is very important.
That wasn't the only thing Cassie cared about. She loved the outdoors and spent a lot of time in Breckenridge. She had a passion for rock climbing, snowboarding, backpacking, camping, and taking photographs of everything she did so she could record her love of the outdoors.
She was buried along with a poem her mother wrote:
Bunny Rabbit, my friend, my daughter, my mentor, I will love you and miss you forever. I promise to take good care of your kitty. I know that Jesus is elated to have you in His presence.
Cassie would have been an amazing person and was an amazing person. She was 17 years old. She hadn't yet told us exactly who she was going to be, but she was going to do great things. She was killed that day at Columbine High School.
Steven Robert Curnow was the youngest victim at Columbine. He was only 14 years old when he died. He loved his family. All of these kids loved their families, but he was especially close with his family. He was pretty close to his true passion as well--``Star Wars.'' He was 14 years old, and his parents said he watched the ``Star Wars'' movies so much he could speak every single line of the movies in sync with the actors. He was also a great athlete. He played soccer, trained very hard, and even worked locally at 14 years old as a part-time referee. He wanted to go into the Navy. He was a pretty well-rounded kid who loved ``Star Wars,'' was a great athlete, and wanted to go into the military and become a Navy pilot. He was great with young kids too. This is what his friends remember, how compassionate he was with young kids. He was 14 years old.
We already had this window into who this kid was going to be. He loved having fun and watching ``Star Wars.'' He was great with kids as a volunteer referee. He wanted to be a Navy pilot and serve our country. He never was able to do these things because he was gunned down in Columbine High School.
Corey DePooter is remembered as a really courageous kid. He was 17 years old, and he had a very strong sense of right and wrong, maybe stronger than he needed to have. When he was growing up and played cops and robbers, he refused to be the robber. He needed always to be law enforcement in that equation. He wanted to be a marine, as Steven did. Steven wanted to be a Navy pilot; Corey wanted to be a marine.
After he died, he was named an honorary marine in a ceremony in front of his grave.
His friend Austin said: People said Corey was just the kind of guy you want to be around. He would always pick up our spirits in a gloomy situation.
He was on the wrestling team. He loved playing golf. He was going to serve our country. He was 17 years old, and Corey never was allowed to live out that dream.
Kelly Ann Fleming was a year younger when she died in Columbine. She was 16 years old. She was an aspiring author. At 16 years old, she had written a great deal of poetry, prose, and a lot of stories about her own life. She actually started writing her autobiography. What an amazing thing for a 16-year-old. She was writing an autobiography covering her life from age 5 until the point she died. The library was what Kelly loved. Her mom said it was her one true safe place. She felt right in that library surrounded by learning and books. Ironically, in school her favorite subject was math. Her favorite math teacher served as a pallbearer at her funeral.
Like most teenagers, she was very much looking forward to obtaining her driver's license. She wanted to get out there in a Mustang or Corvette and drive around with her friends. She was very bright and very good at math. We need more mathematicians, scientists, and engineers in this country.
Kelly Ann, who was 16 then, would be about 30 today. She was not allowed to fulfill those dreams.
This is what happened at Columbine. The two students who walked into the school and started shooting couldn't get the weapons themselves. They had a friend buy them for them. The friend knew that if they went to a gun dealership, they wouldn't get them because they wouldn't be able to pass the background check. They went outside the background check to get them a different way--a way thousands of people go to buy their weapons. The vast majority of them do this not because they are trying to get around the background check system but because in private sales, gun shows, and on the Internet, we largely don't require background checks. This is one of the things we are attempting to fix this week.
There is a belief among many of the family members of the Columbine victims that had background checks been universal, possibly the two shooters in the school might not have had those weapons. We can't guarantee that. I don't want to stand here and say that we know for certain that if we had universal background checks, Kelly Ann, Corey, Steven, Cassie, and all the rest would still be alive today. We don't know that, but chances are a little better. Those families want to have had the chance that their sons and daughters might be alive today, might have kids of their own today, might be an OB/GYN, a Navy pilot, a marine, or mathematician. They would take those chances.
So when we think about these victims, we need to think about the real policy consequences of what we are debating, and while nothing we are talking about is going to guarantee these students who died would be alive today, boy, it gives it a much better chance it would have happened. That is just a sampling of the victims in one high school, in Columbine High School.
What we know is the names reflected by these little figurines are largely not victims of mass shootings. These are just the victims since December 14. These are folks who just got killed by a stray bullet or as a result of a crime of passion or, as I explained in an earlier speech today, just because they were taking out the trash from McDonald's or going to check out some commotion in their housing complex or driving home after dropping off kids at school. They were doing what they normally do every day. And because somebody else had a gun, legally or illegally, they got killed.
So let's talk about some of those victims as well. As I said, I am going to be down here as much as I can today, tomorrow, and next week telling these stories as a means to hopefully inspire us to some bipartisan action on the floor. I hope some good things are happening today while I am down on the Senate floor. I hope we are coming together on this issue. But if these stories don't move people, I am not sure what does.
On January 7 of last year, 2012, a 14-year-old boy in Bridgeport, CT, by the name of Justin Thompson, and his friends from Barnum Middle School went to a Sweet 16 party for a neighborhood girl on the east end of Bridgeport. Justin was a popular eighth grader. His friends and his family thought he looked exactly like Alex Rodriguez. Down in Bridgeport that is a good thing; up in the rest of Connecticut, maybe not so much.
The parents of the girl had rented a hall and hired a DJ. There was no alcohol, there was no fighting. It was just a regular Sweet 16 party. Eventually, as more kids showed up, it kind of started to get a little too big and the police had to come and break it up. But Justin left the party and began walking down a street nearby with two other young people when all of a sudden two men appeared and started shooting. Justin was hit in the head and he was killed in the commotion.
He was 14 years old. He was walking home from a Sweet 16 party. He didn't do anything wrong. He wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was in the right place at the right time. He was doing what he was supposed to be doing that night--walking home from a Sweet 16 party--and he got killed by guns. That is Justin Thompson.
Keijahnae Robinson was 15 years old when, on July 21, 2012, she was shot. She told her friends she wanted to be the next Mariah Carey. She was a big singer. She loved to sing and she loved to perform. Guess where she went on July 20 in Bridgeport, CT. She went to a Sweet 16 party as well. Her 16th birthday was actually the following week, and she was telling friends that she couldn't wait for her party. She was enjoying her friend's party but she couldn't wait for her Sweet 16 party, which was happening the following week.
After the party, her friend's mom invited some of the girls to sort of take the party to her house. It was a warm, beautiful night, and the girls were sitting out on the porch when two men came by and opened fire on the porch before driving away in a car. Two hours before she was shot, there was a robbery just down the street, and somehow this was connected to it.
She was 15 years old. She was sitting on the porch with her friends, basking in the afterglow of a wonderful Sweet 16 party, getting ready for her 16th birthday and she was gunned down by a drive-by shooting. That is Keijahnae Robinson.
Blair Belcher was 17.
This is all Bridgeport, CT. I am just giving one city in 2011 and 2012.
Blair was dreaming of one day going to college. He wanted to go into electronics and computing. He was walking through an east side park in Bridgeport on July 31--he was about to enter his senior year at Harding High School--when three shooters gunned him down in the middle of that park--a life cut short.
He was a real talent. Blair had a penchant for fixing things. He could fix anything. His mom said it was like a gift, and he wanted to do something with it when he graduated. He was 1 year away from graduating. He was 17 years old and killed in Bridgeport, CT. He was just in a park and he got gunned down in a cross fire.
It is hard to even figure out why these things happen, but they just get built into the background noise of urban gun violence.
``TJ'' Mathis was good at a lot of things in Bridgeport. Excuse me, TJ, I am sorry. TJ was from New Haven. I got to know TJ's father Lenny well. And Lenny will tell you that TJ was good at a lot of things, but basketball was at the top of the list. He was the star of Hamden High School's team. He led them to three division titles. He was all-State and he went on to play Division I basketball at Morgan State University and had just been signed to a minor league basketball contract with the ABA. He was a star. He was good at a lot of things--this was a multitalented kid--but basketball was his thing. He did well and led his team. He was going on to a career in basketball.
On a warm Saturday night in September 2011, he and his friends went to a party honoring another basketball legend--someone we are really proud of in Connecticut, Ryan Gomes of Waterbury. Ryan went to Providence College, went to the NBA and had a great career. After leaving the party, his friends realized they were too tired to drive. They were responsible. This kid had a career ahead of him. He was going to be a basketball star. He was going to the ABA, and a lot of people who go to the ABA get to the NBA.
So TJ decided he needed to get some sleep. Unfortunately, TJ never made it home that night. He pulled over to get a little sleep on the side of the road and a young man, seeing the three boys asleep on the side of the road, pulled up next to them and tried to rob them. When TJ woke up and realized he was being robbed in his car, he resisted, and the young man shot and killed him.
On the verge of a career in the ABA, a basketball standout in Hamden, CT, and at Morgan State University, just sleeping in his car trying to get a few winks before he drove home, being responsible so he didn't do something silly like get in a car while he was tired and run off the road and hurt somebody else, he gets robbed and shot.
Just part of the background noise of the people who die every day in this country--30, 40, 50, 60 a day. I will come down here today and tomorrow and next week, and I won't get through a few days' worth of shootings all across this country. The truth is a lot of these shootings in cities are happening with illegal guns.
The opponents of gun legislation are right in one respect. They are right that the majority of crimes are not committed by assault weapons. Assault weapons have become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. That is true. But the reality is these kids I am talking about--Justin and Keijahnae and Blair and TJ--were killed by hand guns, most of them illegal hand guns. Why do we have so many illegal hand guns out there? Because we haven't done anything about it here. We allow 40 percent of guns to be sold in this country without background checks.
Hopefully, we are getting closer to changing that, but we don't have a Federal law making gun trafficking illegal. People don't understand that someone can take a whole bunch of guns out of a store legally, then sell them on the street to people who are legally prohibited from purchasing guns, and they have not committed a Federal gun trafficking violation. Maybe they have committed a State violation, but they haven't committed a Federal violation.
We can't solve this problem entirely. We are not going to stop bad people from taking guns out on the street and doing bad things, but we can substantially decrease the likelihood that another Columbine or Sandy Hook happens, that another TJ Mathis, a standup young kid, a basketball star, gets gunned down just because he is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the right place at the right time with the wrong person with the wrong gun. We can do something about it here.
Throughout the day I have been trying to talk about the variety of victims, people on the streets of our cities but also in our schools. So before I yield the floor again, I want to go back to the reason we are here. I think it is important to tell you who the victims are, but I think it is particularly important to tell you who the victims in Newtown, CT, were because while Newtown should not have been a tipping point, and it should not have taken this long for us to have this conversation, I think we all recognize we are having this conversation because of the 20 6- and 7-year-olds and the 6 adults who were killed that day. And I believe if we don't do something about it there will be another Newtown; that we will have another town added to the list of Aurora and Littleton and Tucson and Newtown in a matter of weeks or months--hopefully longer--if we don't take some action.
So let me go back, before I yield the floor again today, to talk some more about the wonderful children and adults who were killed in Newtown.
Mary Sherlach's husband is here today in DC lobbying on behalf of his wife, who was 1 year away from retirement as Sandy Hook's school psychologist when she was murdered that day in Sandy Hook Elementary School. He is here to talk about the insanity of not taking these high-capacity magazines off the streets. That is his passion. He believes there is a chance there would be boys and girls alive today in Newtown had Adam Lanza had 10 bullets per magazine instead of 30 bullets per magazine.
But let me tell you about Mary because Mary is pretty amazing. Mary had worked for years at Sandy Hook Elementary. She had actually been there for 18 years. She was not just the school psychologist, she was involved in basically every school improvement effort you can imagine. She was a member of the District Conflict Resolution Committee, the Safe School Climate Committee, ironically, the Crisis Intervention Team, and the Student Instructional Team. She cared so deeply about the school, it wasn't just a 9-to-5 or 9-to-3 or 7-to-3 job for her. She put in all sorts of extra hours to make the school better. She was 1 year away from retirement, and, oh, how she and Bill were looking forward to retirement. They had a little cabin on the Finger Lakes--still have a cabin in upstate New York--and they loved going up there. They had planned on spending a good part of their retirement up there when they weren't spending time with their daughters Katie and Maura.
Mary loved gardening, reading, and she loved the theater. She was a great neighbor. She was a very beautiful person, who, on that day, did something a lot of us hope we would do, though we can't really be sure. About 9:30 that morning, Adam Lanza blasted his way through the locked doors of Sandy Hook Elementary School. The principal of the school, Dawn Hochsprung, and Mary were meeting, I believe, when they heard the bullets and the glass crash. They must have known something horrible had happened. There are two instincts at that point--maybe three--you freeze, you run the other way, or you do what Dawn and Mary did. You run to the bullets. That is what she did. Her school was in trouble, something awful was happening, and Mary and her principal ran to the gunfire and the gunman. They didn't run away.
Now, plenty of people in that school did heroic and courageous things that day--they stowed kids in closets and classrooms, they hugged kids as the bullets rained down, but Mary and Dawn were the first people who died because they ran right to the bullets.
Mary is a hero not just because of the 18 years she spent dedicated to those kids, not just because of all the efforts she put in to make that school a better place, but because that day she did everything in her power to make that shooting end. She wasn't successful, but she tried, and we all hope we have a little bit of Mary Sherlach in us as well.
Mary is different than those kids. Those kids had their whole life ahead of them. We don't know what they would have done. So at least we have the benefit of knowing who Mary Sherlach was. At least we have the benefit of knowing the wonder that was her life. But she deserved retirement, and Bill deserved to have his wife, who had worked so hard and had spent all these nights trying to make her school a better place--he deserved to have her for their retirement up in the Finger Lakes, and he doesn't.
Ben Wheeler, whom I talked about earlier today, was a very gifted musician. Ben was 6 years old when he died that morning. Just before December 14, he had performed his first recital at 6 years old. I have a 4-year-old at home, and I know what an amazing thing it is to have a child be that dedicated to music that by 6 years old they can perform a recital. He loved trains. They would go to New York City a lot, and he was always more interested in riding the subway and the train than he was in visiting the museums or the zoos. That is not uncommon for kids. Maybe doing a recital at age 6 is but loving trains is not.
More than music, more than trains, more than subways, though, Ben loved his 9-year-old brother Nate. The two of them did everything together. They played soccer, they swam. As I said this morning in my first speech before this Chamber, on the way to school that morning Ben told his mom he wanted to be an architect when he grew up, but he was going to be a paleontologist because that was what his brother Nate was going to be, and he wanted to do everything Nate did.
Ben was going to be a pretty amazing man, that kind of musical talent at an early age, a love for his family, and, unfortunately, Ben Wheeler lost his life that day.
Emilie Parker was 6 years old. The one thing you will hear about with respect to Emilie when you talk to the Parker family is that she had an infectious laugh. You know those laughs you hear once and hope you get to hear it again before you leave that person's presence? That was Emilie. Her father Robbie described her as bright, creative, and loving. She always wanted to try new things, so much so that at 6 years old she was actually learning Portuguese. Her father was trying to teach her that and it was part of their bond.
She was an artist. She loved to draw with markers and she was talented. At 2 years old, she could write her own name and she could draw stick figures of her family. She loved art so much that her parents Robbie and Alissa have decided to spend a part of their period of mourning and time after that to set up a fund that honors her creativity. As I said earlier today, what is amazing is that so many of these families have dedicated big portions of their time in the horrible 4 months since trying to figure out ways to bring out some of the goodness and light from these kids' lives to the rest of the community. So Robbie and Alissa have set up a fund that is going to support art programs in schools, so art programs have a little more resources so other kids similar to their daughter can experience the joys of drawing and painting. She was learning Portuguese. This is somebody with a very inquisitive, thoughtful mind, and we never are going to get to know who Emilie Parker was going to grow up to be.
Jack Pinto was 6 years old, and he was already a jock. He loved the New York Giants, and he had an idol whose name is Victor Cruz. He loved Victor Cruz. He followed everything Victor Cruz did. He was ecstatic when the Giants won the Super Bowl and Cruz played a big part. Victor was wonderful enough in the days following the tragedy to honor Jack's memory. During the game after the tragedy, he wore writing on his cleats and his gloves that said: Jack Pinto, my hero. Jack was buried in a Victor Cruz jersey.
He was also a wrestler. I didn't even know that you wrestled at 6 years old, but Jack did, and he was pretty good at it. To show how tough Jack was, in one of his practices, he lost a tooth. When a 6-year-old loses a tooth, you would think that would start the tears flowing. But Jack didn't cry when he lost that tooth. He just took the tooth, handed it to his coach, and went back wrestling with a gapped-tooth smile on his face. That was Jack. He was tough. He was an athlete. He had perseverance. Imagine who Jack Pinto was going to be when he grew up. We are not going to know because of what happened that day.
I get it. I know there is a risk of overselling policy change. I don't want to make it sound like I am coming down to the floor and telling you these stories because these kids are going to come back to life if we pass some bill or that we are going to guarantee this doesn't happen again. I don't want to oversell what we are going to do.
But the 3,300 people who have died since Newtown should tell us that enough is enough and that we should try something. Even if we are not absolutely, 100 percent, ironclad guaranteed that what we are going to do is going to work, we should try something. Because it is not OK that somebody can walk into a school with a military-style assault weapon and shoot bullets at the rate of six per second. It is not OK that a couple students can do an end-around on the background check system to buy guns so they can walk into their high school and kill 10 people and wound as many more. It is not all right that there are thousands of illegal guns on our streets that are used to kill 16- and 17-year-olds on their way home from Sweet 16 parties. There are no guarantees that what we are going to do this week and next week is going to solve everything, but we have to try something.
So I am going to continue to come down to the floor over the course of the next few days to talk about these victims--the victims from Newtown, from Columbine. Hopefully, later today I will be able to talk about some of the victims from Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. Of course, there are just binders full of stories that we could put on this floor regarding urban gun violence that plagues our cities every day. These stories are important because too often we trade in this body in statistics, that we just talk in terms of politics. Underlying this debate are 20 little kids in Newtown whose lives were cut short but also thousands upon thousands of other kids, young adults, and adults whose stories deserve to be told.
At this point, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.
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Mr. MURPHY. Mr. President, I gave my first speech on the floor of the Senate this morning. This week and next week, we will be debating one of the most fundamental issues that come to a body such as this: What can we do to better protect our kids and our loved ones from unexpected death? I care about this issue not just because it is one that is important to the families of victims in New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, and others who have been the victims of routine gun violence in Connecticut but, of course, because of what happened in Sandy Hook.
I spoke this morning more broadly about the awful experience of being in Connecticut, the personal experience of having been at the firehouse that day, the wonderful experience of having gotten to know the families of the Sandy Hook victims since then, and to have witnessed the millions of acts of kindness that have showered down upon Newtown in the days and weeks and months since. That tragedy has become the tipping point that has brought us here to talk about a solution to at least some of the epidemic gun violence that for too long has plagued the streets of our cities but now comes to us in waves of mass shootings happening in our schools and in our movie theaters and in our places of worship.
My hope, as a brandnew Member of the Senate, as someone who has lived through this experience as one of the representatives of Sandy Hook, is to just try to tell my colleagues whom we are talking about here. I think we get caught up in the numbers and the policy debates and we forget these are real kids, these are real people.
This is just a small sample of the victims in Newtown and the victims from across Connecticut, in Bridgeport and in New Haven, who have been gunned down prematurely. There are just too many of them. Over 3,300 people have died from guns since those 20 kids and six adults were killed in Newtown. We are not powerless. We can do something about it.
I have said over and over as I have been here on the floor today that there are no guarantees. We are not going to pass a law that is going to immediately flip a switch and assure that gun violence would not continue to be a problem, but it can be less of a problem. It can be less of a reality for kids who are walking to school fearing for their lives in urban America. It can be less of a reality for parents sending their children to elementary school, never thinking that something like what happened at Sandy Hook could occur. We can do something about it.
So I wanted to come back again to continue talking about the victims, to give them a face. I am very encouraged, as I think all of us are, to see some movement between both parties coming together on one element of this debate: background checks. Hopefully, this will be looked upon as a very good week in the midst of this debate. So I want to tell my colleagues whom we are talking about.
Let me go back to Newtown. I think this is my fourth time on the Senate floor today, and I still haven't told my colleagues about everybody who perished in that school.
The youngest victim that day was barely 6 years old. His name was Noah Pozner. He was the youngest victim and he was the first to be buried. His was the first funeral I went to amongst countless funerals I lost count of. He was young, but he was described by his uncle as ``smart as a whip.'' He had a real rambunctious streak. He could be a handful for his family and for his twin sister Arielle who was also in that school on Friday morning. She was luckily in a different class. Arielle survived; her brother did not.
He was already a very good reader. He was one of the youngest kids in his first grade class, but he was a very good reader and he was looking forward to a book he had just bought at a book fair. I will butcher the pronunciation, but it was a Ninjago book he bought at a fair he was excited about.
He was going to a birthday party on the following day, Saturday, that he was just bubbling about in the hours before he went to school. As is true for so many of the victims, his family describes him as having a huge heart. The Pozners are an amazing family who have spoken out. His mother and his uncle have been so articulate since the shooting, calling on the Nation to change. They have been in Washington visiting my office, and I know they have visited with other Members of the Senate--just another one of these families who have somehow found the courage and the strength amidst this awful grieving to come here and explain why things need to change, how they will not feel any justice until we do something here.
Caroline Previdi loved to draw and to dance. She was 6 years old as well. She had one of these big smiles that everybody loved. It brought happiness to everybody who saw that smile. She and her family were active members of the St. Rose Church. I can't tell my colleagues enough about St. Rose Church. About 10 of the victims were parishioners there. This hit that church harder than any institution save for the school. The monsignor there has been an absolute hero to the community, having buried almost a dozen of his kids. He has come down to Washington to try to lobby for some sense of change, and he has brought that community together.
At that funeral he presided over, everybody wore pink. It was Caroline's favorite color. My colleagues have heard me say that about a number of little girls who died, a lot of whom were big fans of the color pink. Her mom will always remember Caroline as the shadow of her older brother. Sometimes to his dismay, she followed him around everywhere and she adored him. Her brother Walker and she were big New York Yankees fans. Even though she was only 6 years old, when her family recently went to Boston for a family trip, she refused to walk into Fenway Park because she was a devoted Yankees fan.
Caroline had a wonderful spirit and we will never know exactly what she would grow up to be. She died that day.
Jessica Rekos was 6 years old and, as do so many little 6-year-old girls, she loved everything about animals. Again, another trend. This was a couple of first grade classes full of animal lovers, and even some of their teachers were big animal lovers as well.
Jessica loved horses. So anything having to do with a horse, she wanted it. She watched movies about horses, she read books about horses, she drew pictures about horses, and she wrote stories about horses. She was murdered just 11 days before Christmas. She was hoping that Santa would bring her a cowgirl hat and cowgirl boots, and her family even promised her that maybe, if she was really good, in a couple years she could get her own horse.
She loved going to Cape Cod and she especially loved seeing the whales. She had a fondness for aquatic life as well, a big fan of the movie ``Free Willie,'' and she loved going to the cape to see if she could catch a glimpse of those whales.
She was curious. That curiosity was going to spring forth into a wonderful young woman who was going to take her loves and her curiosity and her passion for life and make it into something great. We will never get to know exactly what that would be. Jessica died at age 6.
Ana Marquez-Greene, I talked about Ana this morning in my first speech. Her mother Nelba, who is just amazing--Nelba is a social worker who has a passion for helping people. She is in DC right now as we speak trying to push us to change things. Her little daughter Ana grew up in a musical family. Ana's father Jimmy is a very well known saxophone player, a Hartford native. The family came back to Connecticut to raise their kids. So Ana was musical. She used to love to sing and dance. She loved most of all doing that at church. She was so connected to her church. She loved reading the Bible. She loved having the Bible read to her. She loved being part of the dance and singing experience at her church. Her parents said she didn't walk anywhere. That was not her method of transportation. Her mode of transport was to dance from place to place.
She is survived by her older brother Isaiah who is a third grader at Sandy Hook Elementary and who survived that day. My colleagues can find Ana's performances on YouTube. Ana's performances have been viewed tens of hundreds of thousands of times online.
She was a talent. She had talent in her blood. Who knows whether she was going to choose music and dance as a career, but those creative muscles she had and the amazing parents who were raising her were going to assure that she was going to be something special. She died that day, horribly, but her family--her mother Nelba especially--is just determined to make sure we honor her memory by doing something here.
Five kids escaped Sandy Hook Elementary School that day out of those classrooms. Eleven kids--around that number--survived. Six of them hid in a closet, but five of them escaped because the shooter had to reload. When he reloaded, he perhaps fumbled the exchange, and five kids ran out of a classroom and were discovered nearby some moments later. Five children--unfortunately, none of those pictured in this poster--are alive today because as does happen in so many of these mass shootings, an opportunity presented itself when the shooter changed magazines.
I wish we didn't have to get into the detailed nuances of how these mass shootings play out to try to find a way out of mass violence, but we do because they are happening over and over. So we now have some experience. We now, to our great horror, have some data.
Empirically we know what happens. And what happened in Sandy Hook that killed Ana and Jessica and Noah and Caroline and so many others is that he had trouble reloading, five kids escaped, and either at the end of the 10 minutes because he had trouble reloading, or maybe just because the police were coming in, he decided enough was enough and shot himself. In Tucson, when the shooter reloaded, it was enough time for somebody to jump on him and end that incident. In Aurora, again, when the shooter had difficulty reloading--the gun jammed--the shooting ended.
So 154 bullets in 10 minutes at Sandy Hook Elementary School killed 26 people. The shooter had to reload about six times. What would have happened if he had to reload 15 times? How many more kids would have escaped? How many more opportunities would we have had for the shooting to go wrong? Would there have been a moment where somebody could have jumped on him and stopped him, as they did in Tucson? I don't know the answer to these questions. Nobody knows the answer to these questions. But they are important ones to ask because they are relevant to the conversation we are having. If the answer is that there is a pretty good chance one of those three things would have happened--the gun would have jammed, kids would have escaped, or somebody could have stopped the shooting--then we should think twice before dismissing the idea that a limitation on the size of magazines sold in this Nation wouldn't have an effect on future mass shootings.
Our first job should be to stop that shooting from happening in the first place. But given the fact we are living in this terrible, awful reality in which they are happening on a regular basis, then we have to be talking about what we can do to limit the damage and the carnage when they do occur.
I will tell my colleagues while no one is sure of the difference in outcome at Sandy Hook had the assault weapons ban still been in effect, there are plenty of parents there who do believe there is a pretty good chance some of their kids might still be alive had that bill still been in effect. Remember, these were guns and clips purchased legally. For all the arguments that all the laws on the books aren't going to stop criminals, I am not sure Nancy Lanza was going to go onto the black market to purchase an AR-15 or ammunition that was illegal. Things could have been different.
But as we know, every day there are more people killed in this country by guns than were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary that day. I will tell my colleagues that I have heard some very visceral anger from parents and gun victims in the cities I represent because they rightfully wonder why we are talking about this issue now--after Sandy Hook--when, for the last 20 years, young men and women have been getting gunned down in our cities and it didn't seem as though this place stood up and cared too much about it. They welcome the conversation, but they wonder where all of this compassion was when people such as Ronnie Chambers were being killed.
Ronnie Chambers was 33 years old when he was shot in January 2012. He grew up with his mom and his siblings in Chicago's notorious Cabrini-Green housing projects and he became involved in the gang problem at a young age. But he had to watch something that no one should ever have to watch.
You think it is terrible that Noah Pozner's twin sister has to grow up with the knowledge that her brother was gunned down. Think about what Ronnie Chambers had to grow up with, having watched his other three siblings die at the hands of gun violence.
Ronnie became convinced, after watching his three other siblings die from gun violence, that he had to turn his life around. So he did. He went into the music industry and he became a music producer and he decided to go even further and to start to mentor young performers.
People remember him in the industry as ``everybody's hero.'' He was always ``pointing kids in the right direction'' despite his own difficult upbringing.
He was fun too. He loved banana milkshakes and onion rings. Then he was killed--the fourth of four siblings to be gunned down in and around Chicago. Four brothers and sisters: His brother Carlos shot in 1995; his brother Jerome shot in 2000; his sister LaToya shot just 3 months after Jerome; and then Ronnie, dead at 33.
How about Amber Deanna Stanley, who was killed last summer in Kettering, MD. She was spending a nice, quiet evening at home when a gunman literally kicked down her door and opened fire. She was shot multiple times while she was in her bed. She was 17 years old--17. She just started her senior year at Flowers High School in Springdale, MD. She was enrolled in a very elite science and technology program.
It is crazy, but this is probably the third or fourth or fifth young woman I have talked about here today--and I am probably into 30 or 40 people I have talked about--another young woman who was pursuing a career in engineering and science. She had big dreams. She was an honors student. She was in AP classes, and she wanted to go to Harvard University and maybe become a doctor. She had the grades to do it. She could have gone anywhere she wanted.
She was also very popular. She was a kid whom people were drawn to. She was a peer leader and she would do wonderful, magnanimous things for her classmates, such as she would bring cupcakes to them somewhat spontaneously.
One classmate said three words: ``She was amazing''--until August 23 of last year, a gunman kicked down her door, opened fire, and Amber was gone.
How about Angela Player, 37 years old, shot on February 21 of this year, an avid reader who also loved the outdoors, gardening, and kayaking. She was a fan of everything fun and exciting--fast cars. She liked training dogs. She was killed by her ex-husband.
A lot of these are random killings, but a lot of these killings are by somebody you know. Her ex-husband actually did not have a history of domestic violence but had a gun ready and available in a fit of rage, and she left behind a son and a daughter.
Mr. President, 3,300 people have died since Newtown, and I think it is important, as we have this debate, to come down and talk about who these victims are. I will be doing this over the course of today and tomorrow and this week to try to bring a little bit of color to the discussion we are having.
At this time, I yield back the floor.
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