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Condemning the Horrific Attacks in Newtown, Connecticut, and Expressing Support and Prayers for All Those Impacted by This Tragedy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. HIMES. I'd like to begin by thanking my friend and colleague from Connecticut, Congressman Murphy, not just for introducing this legislation, but for his strength of spirit as he has comforted some people who have lived through something that none of us would ever want to live through.

As Congressman Murphy noted, Noah Pozner, a 6-year-old boy, was buried today, as was Jack Pinto, another 6-year-old boy. I looked at the photographs of the parents at those funerals and tried to imagine the bottomless grief, the anger, the questions they must have. Of course, that's impossible. At the very front of those questions is the question of, ``Why?'' That is something that we'll all struggle with individually, reverting probably only imperfectly onto the tenets of our faith as we consider how this supposedly benevolent God could allow this sort of slaughter of innocents to happen. We won't answer that question.

Last night, with the President and my family, by which I mean my colleagues from Connecticut, as we listened to the President and listened to the sighs and the gasps of the families in the community of Newtown, it's clear there's no answer to that question of ``Why?'' A line of poetry kept running through my head. Thomas Hardy, in one of his poems, asked:

How arrives it joy lies slain, And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?

We won't answer that question, but that question and its unanswerability will transform itself into a burden that we all will and must bear. By ``we all,'' I mean every citizen of this country, but particularly those of us who are entrusted by our constituents with one thing, which is to make sure that this does not happen again. And I don't think there's any risk at all that we can't do that.

In a country awash in guns--and not just guns for the hunter or the person who wishes to protect him- or herself, but guns that were designed with the explicit purpose of killing as many people as rapidly as possible; not in a country that has raised violence to a secular religion, to a pastime, to a hobby, to a solution to our problems; and not in a country that seems to have forgotten that it's not just our close families, it's not just the small Connecticut delegation that is a family, but that we are a national family and that we have obligations of responsibility one to each other--there's a clear answer to that ancient biblical question, ``Am I my brother's keeper?'' And that answer is, ``Yes.''

So I don't think there's any risk that we can't act, but I think that there is a profound risk that, just as after Aurora, just as after Oregon, just as after Columbine, we won't act. And that's not good enough.

I'll tell you how I'm going to challenge myself. I'm going to imagine Noah and Jack, 6-year-olds who nobody really knew. I didn't know them. Their parents didn't really know them--didn't know where they'd go to college, what they'd grow up to be, who they'd take to a prom. I'm going to imagine them standing right here--and that's not hard for me, with a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old at home--looking up and asking, ``Will you do it?''


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