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Public Statements

Gun Safety

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Madam President, this bears repeating: We knew all along that efforts to pass stronger background checks and keep guns out of the hands of criminals wouldn't be easy, and it hasn't been. But keeping America's streets safe from gun violence is worth the effort.

Yesterday the families of gun violence victims watched as Republicans defeated a commonsense proposal to expand background checks. It is supported by 90 percent of the American people. It is not some hocus-pocus. What it says is that if a person is a criminal, that person shouldn't be able to buy a gun. It says that if a person has severe mental issues, that person shouldn't be able to buy a gun. That is all it said.

Yesterday the families of gun violence victims watched, but despite the fact that a strong majority of the American people feel this way, we weren't able to get this done. Despite the fact that a strong majority of the Senate voted in favor of stronger background checks--a strong majority--Republicans once again filibustered a commonsense proposal. We were able to get 4 Republicans--4 out of 45.

Yesterday President Obama said it was a shameful day for the Senate, and it probably was, I agree. But we should make no mistake; this debate is not over. In fact, this fight is just beginning.

I have spoken with the President. He and I agree that the best way to keep working toward passing a background check bill is to hit ``pause'' and freeze the background check bill where it is. In the meantime, we will keep moving forward with the people from Aurora, CO, Blacksburg, VA, Newtown, CT, and other places to make sure we are able to get something done. This will allow Senators to keep negotiating.

We had nine amendments yesterday. They were not easy to vote on--not for us or for the Republicans--and I understand that. But it was a good process by which to move forward and get some of these contentious amendments on both sides out of the way--or voted on, rather, is a better way to phrase it.

So we are going to come back to this bill. I feel obligated to Senator Stabenow. She should have an opportunity to offer her amendment on mental health. I feel an obligation to Senator Coburn. He should be able to offer his amendment on background checks. I feel an obligation to a number of Senators who believe we have to do a better job dealing with the issue of veterans.

So we are going to have time to work on what people want to do before we come back to this. It will give opponents an opportunity to decide what they want to do when we get back on this, and it will give gun violence advocates time to make their voices heard by Republican Senators. This option will preserve the progress we have made on the bill. We passed a couple of amendments today--we passed a Republican amendment and a Democratic amendment. I suggest to the Senate that this option will prevent us from having to return to square one procedurally, and I think that is good.

I am committed to ensuring that any bill we pass includes an expansion of background checks, closing the gun show loophole, as well as covering private sales.

This afternoon I am going to file cloture on the motion to proceed to the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would give brick-and-mortar stores parity with Internet-only retailers. It is only a matter of time before we bring this anti-gun violence measure back to the floor for a vote.

The stand of the Republicans is not sustainable. It is a question of how long they are going to stand firm, but it is not sustainable.

I assure the 90 percent of Americans who support meaningful background checks that I am going to continue this fight. I assure the families of Newtown and Aurora and Tucson and Blacksburg that we are going to continue to stand by their side.

To those Senators who have indicated they want to offer amendments, we will be back and try to do another tranche of amendments, and when we get there, I hope we can proceed the way we did this week to line up amendments.


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