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Public Statements

Stopping the Cycle of Violence

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. LEVIN. Madam President, the recent tragic shooting at the Navy Yard has by now moved off the front pages, but for the victims and their loved ones and for the Washington, DC community, the effects of that horrific day will linger much longer. We may never fully understand what demons compelled the perpetrator to commit this heinous act, but at least one thing is clear: We should not consider this incident in a vacuum, not after 6 dead in Tuscon, not after 12 dead in Aurora, not after 6 dead in Oak Creek and 2 dead in Clackamas and 27 dead in Newtown, 20 of them children, not while mass shootings are occurring all around our Nation, every day, in places like Albuquerque, Minneapolis, Newton Falls, Seattle, Chicago, and many more. In the words of MedStar Washington Hospital Center chief medical officer Dr. Janis Orlowski, ``There's something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings, these multiple injuries, there's something wrong.''

Dr. Orlowski is right. Our Nation is torn by gun violence. Facts are facts: The American Journal of Medicine recently released clinical research showing that the United States has a rate of 10.2 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people. This rate is far higher than almost all of the 27 other countries the study examined--higher than the rates of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Japan, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Germany, and Canada combined. The Washington Post has put similar findings in sobering perspective by noting that an American is ``20 times as likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.''

Congress can take important steps to stop this violence. There is legislation in the Senate right now that, if enacted, would take important steps toward reducing gun violence in this country. Among other things, these bills would close the `gun show loophole' that allows 40 percent of gun purchases in this Nation to go forward without any sort of background check on the buyer. This loophole allows criminals, the mentally ill, domestic abusers, and terrorists to obtain deadly weapons to turn on our communities.

The American people agree that taking this step would just be common sense. Study after study has shown that around 90 percent of Americans support comprehensive background checks for all gun sales. Another study conducted by the UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that 55.4 percent of gun dealers and pawnbrokers in the United States support comprehensive background checks.

Public safety is not a partisan issue. Dr. Orlowski said it well: ``Mass murders people--walking through schools, people walking through movie theaters, people walking through work places--unfortunately is common, or more common than what it should be ..... we've got to work together to stop this.'' The American people overwhelmingly support commonsense gun safety measures. Our law enforcement communities, our medical communities, even our licensed gun sellers overwhelmingly support commonsense gun safety measures. We should listen to them, and act.

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