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Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. REID. Mr. President, tomorrow at 11 o'clock we are going to vote on cloture on the motion to proceed to the gun legislation that is now before this body.

This morning and throughout the day, our friend from Connecticut spoke, a freshman Senator who was brought to the Senate with this tragedy having taken place shortly after he arrived. My friend the Presiding Officer, a longtime attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of the State of Connecticut, has lived with this tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook like nothing that ever happened in his career. And, of course, for Senator Heinrich, a new Senator, this was something he never appreciated he would be faced with.

I saw the pictures today of those little babies who were murdered, some of them shot multiple times--little tiny kids shot multiple times. The shooting was on December 14, about 4 months ago--120 days. So the time has come--it has arrived--when we have to debate this issue. We have to have a response to this tragedy.

When this incident took place on December 14, it struck me, as it did everyone in America--virtually everyone in America; we had been through Aurora, CO--that vicious, brutal machine-gunning of people going to watch a movie, and then little kids getting killed in an elementary school, kindergartners, first-graders--so we need to respond, this great deliberative body, to what the American people want. So we are going to vote. It is time to vote. I hope we get cloture on this matter. We certainly should. After that, there is no reason not to start legislating immediately. I hope we do not have to go through this procedural mishmash--30 hours; somebody on the floor all the time; if people are not, there are dilatory tactics; only one quorum call--and all this. Let's get past that. If somebody has something to say, come and say it. But this week we are going to start legislating. We are going to start legislating whether there is cloture or not. One will be a little longer process. But we are going to start legislating on this bill this week. I hope we can get to it tomorrow.

I do not think it is any secret, if we are on this bill, I am going to--the first amendment in order will be the amendment to change the background checks that has been worked on for weeks by Senator Manchin, Senator Kirk, and Senator Toomey, and then we will decide where we go from there.

To all my friends, we are going to have amendments. Some of them are going to take a little bit of time. We are not going to finish the bill this week. I do not know if we will finish it next week. But that really does not matter. Are we going to legislate the right way? Are we going to legislate? I have in my mind these little children who were murdered. What we do here is not going to prevent all gun violence in America, but if we stop a few, isn't that remarkably important for us to do? I think we can do a lot more than saving the lives of just a few people.

But let's work on this bill. We are going to start. If we have to use up the 30 hours, we will use up the 30 hours. I think there are ways around that procedurally. I hope we do not have to test that. There are a number of amendments. We all know. We have been reading about them. There are lots of amendments; people have been waiting a long time for this legislation.

One of my Republican colleagues yesterday said: I have a number of germane amendments I want to offer.

I said: Fine. Good. Do it.

We know we have to do background checks, assault weapons, the ammunition capacity of clips or magazines, mental health. That is just to name a few of the things. And I repeat, we are going to begin this process before we leave here this week.

I so appreciate the work done by Senators MANCHIN, TOOMEY, KIRK, and many others. My friend Senator Schumer has been working on this issue. My friend Dick Durbin, who has been involved in guns for a long time, has been involved. I appreciate the work of everyone. As the press has indicated, we are likely going to get cloture on this tomorrow. I hope so. But, as I have told individual Senators, if we do not get cloture, we are going to have a vote in the Senate on capacity clips, assault weapons, background checks, and some mental health items or item. That we are going to do. I hope we can do it in the regular process.

We have had people for a long time now--my friends on the other side of the aisle--saying: We want regular order. We want to be able to offer amendments. Well, I do too. And I hope people will not see how many amendments they can offer, not see if they can set a record for how many amendments can be laid down, because we should have this as a civil process and culminating in a better set of laws for our people in this great country in which we live.

For those of us who have the opportunity to try to address this issue, I hope we all understand that the world is watching what we do.


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