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Public Statements

Rally to Prevent Gun Violence

Location: Annapolis, MD

What a tremendous turnout today! Give yourselves a round of applause. I want to thank Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, I want to thank all of our faith leaders.

And especially I want to thank all of you, who bear the most important title of all in our State, and that is the title of Citizen.

We are not here only because of Newtown. We are here because of the loss of lives due to gun violence in all of OUR towns.

We are citizens, we are parents, we are neighbors, we are people of faith, we are people of hope, and we are people who believe that we can make tomorrow safer for our children. We can make this world a kinder and more loving and safer place for our children. We are here as Chiefs of Police, we are here as Clergy. We are here as hunters. We are here as advocates of public health. We are here as advocates for victims of domestic violence. We are here as Marylanders. We are here as children of one God who all share the same red blood of humanity that tells us every life is important.

And as Marylanders, we also believe that we have a legacy and we have a responsibility. And that legacy and that responsibility is to lead -- to transform the pain, and the loss, and the tragedy. To take the tears that have run down our faces at grave sites from Baltimore, to Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. To transform the unspeakable loss of a person standing at the grave of a child, and to transform that loss and that pain into action that saves lives. To do the things that work to save lives.

There are 426 more people alive today in our state, because of the things we have done together over recent years to reduce violent crime.

Every life is important. Every life is precious. Our progress should not be a reason to sit back or pretend that somehow we can sleep on another man's wound.

The children that were lost in Newtown were our children. The children that are lost on the streets of Baltimore are our children. The lives that we can save tomorrow are also our children's lives.

A great man named Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once wrote that "The mark of Cain in the face of man has come to overshadow the likeness of God,… Who is responsible?"

The proposals that you have come to rally around today -- to rally in the spirit of unity and common ground and the spirit of love -- are proposals that can save lives. They are proposals that would ban from our neighborhoods military assault weapons that are designed only for the battlefield.

In protecting the common good you seek with your neighbors -- including those who may think differently than you do -- to find common ground that says we can honor the traditions of hunters, while also protecting our police officers.

We can all agree that updating the safety of our school buildings is common sense.
Common ground that seeks to improve mental health treatment and information sharing. These are all things that we can count as common ground as a people. There are things that we know are common sense and they work. And if we come together in a spirit of respect for one another, we can transform the losses in Colorado, and Wisconsin, and Newtown, and here in our towns, into a positive, loving force of change and for saving lives.

We must overcome the sickness in our souls that is gun violence in America.
And we must overcome something else that Rabbi Heschel calls the "infamy of the soul" -- the indifference to crime when it's committed against others.

We are all one people, we are all One Maryland.

This is not a choice between our security and our freedom. This is a choice between whether we will be responsible, or whether we'll be irresponsible. This is a choice between whether we give into that infamy in our souls, and whether or not we are indifferent to crime so as long as it's committed against others. And whether, instead, we can summon up within ourselves that spark of the divine that says we are all one, that every life matters, and that every single person is important.
If we want better results, we have to make better choices.

I leave you with this prayer. "Lord, teach us to be generous; to serve as You deserve; to give and not count the cost; to fight and not heed the wounds; to toil and not seek for rest; to labor and to ask for no reward, save to know that we do Your will."

So let us act, and let us toil to save lives in this One Maryland.

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