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Public Statements

Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 -- Continued

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHUMER. Thank you, Mr. President.

First, I want to thank my colleague from Texas for his courtesy.

I wish to address two issues here: first, the bill that my good friend from West Virginia and my friend from Pennsylvania have worked on long and hard, that Senator Kirk and I are sponsors of as well; and, second, concealed carry.

I have always said that background checks are the sweet spot of this debate--the sweet spot because it will do the most good and has the best chance of passing. If this is the sweet spot, we should take advantage of it. Let us step to the plate and not make this a sour day for those in Newtown, for those whose families have been victims of gun violence, and for all Americans.

The bottom line is simple: The Brady law was passed in 1994. The NICS system came into effect in 1999. And the very system of background checks that we are proposing has stopped 1.7 million transactions of guns being sold to felons. It is certain that tens of thousands of people are walking God's green Earth because of the background checks required in the Brady law. But those who have criminal intent and wish to get guns, even though they would not be allowed to under Brady, find ways around it, and they have. The two leading ways around it are the gun shows and sales on the Internet.

This amendment is very simple. All it does is take the same method of background checks and the same method of recording those checks that we use now when you walk into a gun shop and apply it to gun shows and to sales on the Internet--no more, no less.

I have not seen any cry from the other side of the aisle to repeal the background checks mandated under the Brady law. I have not seen any cry saying, they do not work. We have simply seen that they do not cover 40 percent, approximately, of gun sales. The bill I originally introduced I guess is the gold standard. It covered them all. But in an effort to compromise, Senators Manchin and Toomey, with considerable courage, worked with us and now individual sales are not covered. But the sales on the Internet and sales at gun shows are.

I say to some of my colleagues who have been allies in the pro-gun control movement: Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. This is a strong, good bill. I say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, the only objection--the only objection we have heard to this bill, this proposal of Senators Manchin, Toomey, Kirk, and myself--is that it will lead to registration.

Well, then let me ask or let me refer to my colloquy with the Senator from Texas. Has there been a single step toward registration as this system has been in place since 1999, 14 years? Not one. So why is it all of a sudden that if we extend these to gun shows and Internet sales, registration will come down upon us like a plague within a matter of months? The argument, and it is the only argument made against background checks, that this will cause registration to occur, is a canard, plain and simply, an excuse. Because the opponents cannot argue against the substance, they come up with this fearmongering tactic that this will lead to registration. There is not one jot of evidence that the existing law, the same as the new law we are proposing, has led to that.

I would urge my colleagues to step to the plate. Pass this amendment. I understand the views on the assault weapons ban, which I so strongly support, and the limitation on clips, which I so believe in. They may not get a number of votes. But this one is close. This one is close. In my judgment, this one will save more lives than any other. Let us show the courage, let us show the wisdom, let us show the conviction that doing the right thing is the right political thing, and move it.

One more point. The arguments of reciprocal conceal carry would do devastation to the urban areas of New York. To treat the forests of Wyoming like Times Square or Yankee Stadium would be wrong. I would urge we reject that as well.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. SCHUMER. This amendment would wreak havoc in large portions of America--suburban and urban areas. The bottom line is very simple: In Wyoming maybe the conceal carry law works. Every police officer in America, all of them, will say that the conceal carry law would be a disaster in Times Square, the L.A. Coliseum, or in the Dallas, TX, stadium. It would be a disgrace. Police officers would not know who is carrying and who is not carrying a weapon. Because there are no residency requirements, criminals from our States could go to States such as Florida, get a conceal carry permit, and criminals and felons could legally conceal and carry weapons in other States.

We hear a lot of talk about States rights. This is a classic States rights vote. Let Wyoming do what it wants to do with conceal carry, but don't impose that on New York and vice versa.

I strongly, strongly urge that this amendment--which takes one way of life in America and imposes it on all ways of life--be defeated.

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Mr. SCHUMER. Madam President, when we began this debate, we talked about strengthening the NICS system, we talked about how people who have mental illness should be added to the list so they might not get guns. And here, in one amendment, in one fell swoop, we will take 165,000 people off that list.

Does my colleague, my dear friend from North Carolina, believe every single one of those people should be allowed to carry a gun? Of course not. If there are injustices to some of those folks, then let's have a system that deals with it. But you do not--you do not--in one fell swoop take 165,000 people, all of whom have some degree of incompetence, off the list.

It is unbelievable that at a time when we are supposed to be strengthening the NICS system with people who are adjudicated or judged otherwise mentally ill, we are considering tonight taking a giant step backward and reducing the list. What is America going to think is going on in this body?

I strongly urge a "no'' vote.

I yield the floor.

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