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Public Statements

Neil Godleski and Suzanne Murphy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BISHOP of New York. Mr. Speaker, I rise to commemorate the tragic passing of Neil Godleski, nephew of my friend and constituent Suzanne Murphy of Southampton, New York. Neil, a rising senior at Catholic University, was fatally shot on August 22, 2010 while riding his bicycle home from a restaurant where he worked as a waiter. He was 31 years old and had returned to college with plans to pursue a career in science. His assailant was a 16-year-old boy who shot him six times with a .38 caliber handgun and then robbed him.

Suzanne's family has been wrenched with grief over the sudden end of this young man's life. More than 200 people attended his funeral in his hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut, and many others gathered at a candlelight vigil for him in his Washington, DC neighborhood of Petworth.

While no vigil or memorial could ever begin to take away the pain of this loss, Suzanne has found a way to channel her grief and focus her energy. She has become an advocate for gun control, becoming part of a movement declaring the need to seek a new path emphasizing gun safety at a time when one in three Americans knows someone who has been shot In an average year, around 100,000 Americans are killed or wounded with guns.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, Trayvon Martin, and the recent episode in Aurora, Colorado are senseless tragedies still fresh in our minds that point to the need for responsible policies that protect all Americans from gun violence but also preserve the right afforded citizens by the Second Amendment. Reasonable people can agree that we can achieve even-handed protections that do not infringe on any American's right to possess a firearm.

Efforts to curb the influx of dangerous weapons into our communities, restrictions on assault-type weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and policies on handguns are the types of actions Congress can take to protect our communities from gun violence. We must also equip local law enforcement officers with the tools needed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and others who wish to do our sons and daughters harm.

Unfortunately, Suzanne Murphy and her family have experienced first-hand the tragic pain and loss that comes to a family in a shooting death. At Catholic University, Neil was a teaching assistant to his biology professor. The professor told Suzanne that one of Neil's jobs was to keep an eye out for other students having trouble mastering the material. Neil especially liked tutoring and helping his fellow classmates. After his death, Catholic University awarded Neil his diploma with his class of 2011. His parents, Dan and Heidi Godleski, gratefully accepted it on his behalf

Mr. Speaker, I applaud Suzanne's efforts to reach out and bring awareness to the problem of gun safety. We must not let her nephew become just another chilling statistic in the battle to make our communities safer--leaving another family struggling to get past the pain and loss.

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