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Public Statements

Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, I wish to add my voice to those who have called on this floor for actions that address the epidemic of gun violence in America. I strongly favor passage of legislation to address the loopholes that have allowed too many violent individuals to circumvent the background checks designed to keep them from committing horrific acts. I support the amendment offered by Senator Feinstein to add to that legislation a ban on new military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

In May of 1999, I spoke to the Economic Club of Detroit in the aftermath of the Columbine shootings. I was surrounded by educators, clergy, law enforcement officials, and businesspeople who had dedicated their lives to protecting young people from an epidemic of gun violence in our city. I asked, ``Are we willing to say enough is enough?''

That was 14 years ago next month. Since then, I have placed hundreds of speeches on this issue in the Congressional Record. After all that time and all those speeches, the question remains: ``Are we willing to say enough is enough?'' After Columbine, after Aurora, after Newtown, after the deaths and injuries of thousands of innocent people, many of them children, can we now say enough is enough?

This is what the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence says on this topic:

Assault weapons were designed for the battlefield and have no place in our communities. These weapons were developed to enable a shooter to rapidly spray-fire multiple rounds at an enemy in combat, not to gun down small children, moviegoers, firefighters--or the law enforcement officers protecting them.

This coalition includes the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, the National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the Police Foundation. These groups--each of them dedicated to the safety of our people--tell us that the threat these weapons present to public safety, indeed, to the safety of those who keep us safe--is too great for us to allow it to continue.

Even in the aftermath of the Newtown shootings and other horrific tragedies, some have argued that the problem with our society is not too much weaponry but too little. What these folks want, essentially, is to send Americans into combat. This is particularly true of these assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, which are specifically designed for military combat.

Now, our local and State police forces spend billions of dollars every year providing countless hours of training to law enforcement officers on how to react in a situation where they might have to fire their weapon. The U.S. Marine Corps sends its recruits through a 59-day course before they are considered ready for combat, and those marines train relentlessly to keep their combat skills sharp. Yet, as any experienced police officer or marine or soldier will tell you, for all their training and skill, combat is chaotic. Telling friend from foe is never easy. And now some voices call for bringing that same level of combat to our streets and schools.

We can no longer be frozen into passivity. We must instead respond to the majority of Americans who support a Federal assault weapons ban and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Their voices and the voices of anguished families and of deeply concerned law enforcement officials should carry the day. We should heed those voices, support the Feinstein amendment and the underlying bill, and finally take action against this plague of violence.

Madam President, I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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