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Public Statements

Gun Violence

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. MORAN. I thank the very distinguished gentlelady from California.

Thank you for heroically sharing with us the horrific experience that you went through in your very early adulthood. That, understandably, continues to shape your view of gun violence. Hopefully, others will share that view without having to go through such a horrific experience, but thank you particularly for putting a face on the tragedy at Newtown and on the gun violence that we have experienced all too often in this country.

I do think that the tragedy of 20 tiny, little children being blown to bits has changed the conversation and has changed the attitude of the American people, as evidenced by the 92 percent who understand that universal background checks are appropriate. In fact, more than three-quarters of NRA members believe that to be the case, despite what Mr. LaPierre's official position is. It would seem that, perhaps, he is more interested in representing the gun manufacturers than the members of the association.

I also learned today, as many of us did, that the chair of our Judiciary Committee, out of concern for the inconvenience that it may cause gun purchasers, has decided that the Judiciary Committee is not going to be considering universal background checks.


Mr. MORAN. I thank the gentlelady.

I believe that California's laws are far more sane than the laws of many other States, particularly the laws of my own State of Virginia.

The situation we have today is that over 40 percent--almost half--of the guns purchased in this country don't have to go through a background check; 6.6 million firearm sales occurred at gun shows and through private arrangements that didn't have to go through a background check. That's not even fair to the retail sellers, who have to require the background check and comply with the law.

It's almost as though you have two security lines at an airport--one in which you're going to have to stand and have the machine go around and check for metal and so on and then another line that you can just walk through without being checked. So which line would criminals choose?


Mr. MORAN. It just doesn't seem to make sense.

This is a democracy. It would seem that we have some responsibility, regardless of our own views, to be responsive to the overwhelming opinion of the American people.

I'd like to share with my dear friend and colleague another interesting fact, and that is that auto deaths fell to 32,000 and that deaths from firearms, including suicides and accidents, are over 30,000. So they are roughly the same. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that by 2015 there will be significantly more deaths from firearms than deaths from motor vehicles. It has already occurred in Virginia. We had 875 reported firearm deaths in the last year compared to 728 motor vehicle deaths.

Now, with regard to motor vehicles, we have acted proactively in the form of seatbelt laws; we have improved safety standards for the manufacturers of the vehicles that are made in this country and for the vehicles that are sold in this country; we have harsher penalties for drunk driving, as well as having mandatory driver training classes. They've worked, and they've saved lives.

Why can't we do it with firearms? It seems wholly consistent with the appropriate way, the way that the American people want us to respond to a problem, and this is more than a problem. This is an extraordinary situation that demands action by this body.

So I would hope that regardless of the views of the chair of the Judiciary Committee, even of many of the Members, some of whom have an A rating from the NRA, that we would be responsive to the overwhelming majority of the American people, and even NRA members, and act responsibly.

In Virginia, we are one of the three States that are the principal source for trafficking of guns. Florida and Georgia are the other two. People go in oftentimes with straw purchasers, and they buy large quantities of guns. They put them in the trunk of their car and drive to a street corner in an urban area, and they sell them. And invariably they end up in criminal activity, oftentimes causing the deaths of people, many innocent people such as you observed earlier, Ms. Speier.

I want to thank the Congresswoman. She is a leader on this fight. It is a terribly important battle. We can't let it go. Time is not on our side. Time is on the side of the NRA. That's why invariably they have prevailed previously. We can't let that happen today. We can't let that happen now. The American people deserve more, and certainly the families of those very young victims at Newtown, Connecticut, deserve action on our part. I thank the gentlelady from California. You're a wonderful leader. Thank you for your courage and your leadership.


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