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Public Statements

Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

I rise to urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join a strong bipartisan coalition which is taking real action to end senseless, deadly gun violence. This includes truly commonsense reforms which have nothing to do with infringing on our Second Amendment rights and the Second Amendment rights of our law-abiding citizens.

We have seen the Newtown parents here in Washington bravely telling their stories. They deserve better than this body turning their backs on them. The families of Aurora deserve better than this body turning their backs on them. The families of the more than 30 people who die every single day at the hands of gun violence deserve more from this body.

My friends, it is simply time to act. Today is the day for this body to show the American people their voices matter. When 90 percent of Americans demand us to expand background checks, we can deliver.

We should be able to agree we no longer need military-style weapons and ammunition clips on our streets. We should be able to agree it is time to crack down on the illegal handguns being trafficked on our streets into the hands of criminals.

Four years ago I met the parents of Nyasia Pryear-Yard. Nyasia was a beautiful 17-year-old honor student killed in the prime of her life by an illegal handgun when she was just spending time with her friends.

I vowed to Nyasia's parents and classmates I would stop the flow of illegal guns which make their way onto our streets and into the hands of criminals by finally making gun trafficking a Federal crime and holding offenders accountable with stiff penalties. We have the opportunity today to give law enforcement the tools and resources they need and have long asked for. This is not a Republican or a Democratic idea. It is a smart idea and the action Nyasia's parents deserve from us.

According to the New York City mayor's office, 85 percent of the guns used in crimes come from out of State. At least 90 percent of those guns are illegal. They are illegally trafficked into our cities and State. Of all the laws we have on the books today, effectively none are directly focused on preventing someone from driving from one State to another with stricter gun laws, parking their car in a parking lot, and selling hundreds of firearms directly into the hands of criminals. It is shocking to me as a mother and as a lawmaker.

Instead, prosecutors primarily rely on laws which prohibit making false statements in connection with the purchase of a firearm. These are paperwork violations with penalties too low to be effective law enforcement tools.

Over the past 3 fiscal years, more than 330,000 guns used in violent crimes show telltale signs of black market trafficking, 420,000 firearms were stolen, and thousands of guns with obliterated serial numbers were recovered by law enforcement. While law enforcement is working overtime to track down illegal guns and apprehend those who traffic these weapons, current law restricts their ability to investigate and prosecute these crimes.

We can all agree this simply makes no sense and leaves all our communities vulnerable. All across this country in small towns and big cities, families are saying enough is enough. It is time to get serious and do something to prevent the next tragedy.

Now we are able to do so. Our bipartisan Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act would empower law enforcement to investigate and prosecute illegal gun traffickers, straw purchasers, and their entire criminal networks. This bill is not everything I wanted when I set out on this mission in 2009, but it is a good bipartisan compromise. It is a compromise I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support. If you do, we can stop the illegal flow of guns which are coming into our city neighborhoods, reduce gun violence, and reduce senseless gun death.

Law enforcement officials across the country need this legislation to protect our communities from illegal weapons. If you are a responsible, law-abiding gun owner watching this, you should support this legislation too. My friends who are Second Amendment supporters, gun owners, and hunters support this commonsense legislation.

I am urging all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us. Stand with families in our communities all across the country who are looking to us to take action. It is time to prevent the next senseless tragedy, prevent the next death, and the next Nyasia Pryear-Yard.

I urge you to stand with the brave men and women of our law enforcement at every level who are asking us to take these critical commonsense measures needed so they can do a better job for us and keep our families safer.

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