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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MURPHY. Madam President, it has now been almost 6 months since the horrible shooting in my State of Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary where 20 6- and 7-year-old children lost their lives, and another 6 adults, who were protecting them, perished as well.

We all believed we were going to do something about it here on the floor of the Senate. We thought we were going to come to our senses and finally realize it is in part the laws of this Nation that allow for this kind of senseless killing, whether it be in mass numbers in places such as Sandy Hook or Aurora or Tucson or at the Sikh temple in the State of the Presiding Officer or in just the everyday, average gun violence that has become background noise to this Nation.

It is not just about bad people doing bad things; it is also about the laws of this Nation that have allowed for this to happen because we don't have background checks on every gun purchase so that criminals do not get guns. We still allow for dangerous military-style weapons, such as the AR-15 and 100-round drums of ammunition to be carried on the streets of this country. We don't even have a Federal law saying it is illegal to traffic in guns, taking them out of gun shows and gun stores and then going out and selling them on the streets as straw purchasers to people who shouldn't have bought them in the first place. We had 55 votes in the Senate to do something about that, but we didn't have 60 votes, which is the law of the land here these days.

I have promised to come down here every week and do something rather simple, which is to tell the stories of the dozens of people who are killed every single day by guns, because it is their stories that will eventually move this place to action. I know this place has enough empathy, enough compassion to not be so callous as to allow month after month to go by and do nothing about the 4,243 people, as of today, since Newtown who have died in this country at the hands of gun violence.

Let me cite that number again. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook, where 28 people died, including the gunman and his mother, 4,243 people have died due to gun violence.

I want to spend the next couple of minutes before we get back to the debate on these nominations telling the stories of a few of these people.

On May 15, 2013, about a week ago, five different people were shot in Detroit. Halfway through May and there have been 73 shootings in Detroit, MI. Ten people have been killed, with 8 of the shooting victims being 17 years old or younger.

On that day, May 15, five people were shot. A 24-year-old man opened fire after a pretty simple verbal altercation on the street. What happened, apparently, was that one parent of one child told the other kids to go home for some reason. Something had happened at their house. That youth returned to the house with some of his family members, including the 24-year-old man who got so upset over this simple altercation about a mom asking some kids to leave her house that he opened fire, killing Allmeter Walls and wounding the others.

It was a pretty bloody 24-hour period in Detroit, where 12 people were shot on that day from 6 a.m. on Wednesday until 6 a.m. on Thursday. There were 73 shootings halfway through May in 1 city alone.

On May 15 as well, Newark police said that an 18-year-old high school student, a senior, at Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ, was killed. He had signed himself out of school because he wasn't feeling well, and he was shot.

Councilman Ras Baraka, who is also the principal of another high school, said: ``We are outgunned and outmanned here on the street.'' There are so many guns on the streets of Newark that principals and law enforcement feel outgunned and outmanned.

Of the young student who was killed, one of his friends said: ``He was a good kid. When he was little, we used to play pool and video games around here.''

In Bridgeport, CT, just before sunrise on Mother's Day, police found 22-year-old Robert Rivera dead in his car from perhaps a dozen bullet wounds. ``He was one in a million,'' a friend said. ``No one will ever be like him.'' Chino was his nickname. He was a good kid. His friend said, ``The good die young here.'' He was 22 years old and was killed in a spray of bullets in his car in Bridgeport, CT.

These are the ones we don't hear that much about because they are in the local papers. But we know there are also these mass killings as well, and before I yield the floor, I want to talk about a handful of victims from the State of the Presiding Officer who were killed at a Sikh temple when someone walked in, in August 2012, and opened fire, because people should know who these victims are as well. There are victims of everyday gun violence, but we have had a string of mass shootings in this country which will not end until we do something about it.

Paramjit Kaur lived for her children. She spent 11 hours a day, 6 days a week in production at a medical devices firm in order to provide for her children. She was praying inside the temple when she learned of the active shooter outside the temple. Instead of being afraid, she showed great courage, bowed down and prayed one last time before she was shot.

Satwant Singh Kaleka was the founder and president of that Sikh temple. He worked 18 hours a day at his family's gas station to provide for his family. His hard work as a small businessman paid off and he acquired eight stations by the end of his career. His attempts to thwart the gunman with a small dull knife gave the group of women, including his mother, a chance to escape.

Suveg Singh Khattra, a former dairy farmer in northern India, came to the United States for a better life. He was a humble and loving man who was a constant presence at the temple. He was a man of habit, waking every morning at 4:30 a.m. to watch a live broadcast from India and engage in readings from the holy book. He died at 84.

Prakash Singh was a pious man with a great sense of humor. He stayed in the priest quarters in the temple, and was excited about the fact he was about to get an apartment outside the temple. They were due to move into their new home at the end of August, a few weeks after he was killed.

Then the two brothers, Ranjit and Sita Singh. They were brothers and Sikh priests who left their families behind to move to Oak Creek for a better life. Ranjit was the more outgoing of the two. His responsibility was to take care of every visitor who came through those doors. But his younger brother Sita was just as fun loving and would wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to read the Sikh holy book. His specialty was to make sure everyone who walked into that temple had enough to eat.

All perished at that Sikh temple. These things are going to happen again. There is going to be another mass atrocity. And there will continue to be these shootings in Detroit and Bridgeport and Newark if we don't do something about it on this floor. I know we have important business, whether it be the farm bill this week or our hopeful attempt at passing immigration reform, but as soon as that is done, hopefully, we will get to come back to this issue of gun violence, because if we don't these everyday urban stories will mount and there will be another mass shooting somewhere across this country.

Madam President, I yield the floor.


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