Addressing the Epidemic of Gun Violence

Floor Speech

Date: July 5, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TAKANO. Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we reflected on how fortunate we are to live in a country that gives each of us a voice in our government. Today, this Congress will, once again, ignore the voices of millions of Americans by refusing to address the epidemic of gun violence in our communities.

Yesterday, we honored the courage that millions of Americans have demonstrated throughout our history by standing up in defense of their fellow citizens. But today, this Congress will not muster the courage to hold a vote on two proposals that are supported by roughly 90 percent of this country and that can save American lives.

Mr. Speaker, the American people deserve to be heard. They deserve a vote. If the U.S. homeland security community places a person on the FBI terrorist watch list or determines that a person is too dangerous to board an airplane, then surely we can agree that person is too dangerous to buy a firearm.

This week, the majority will introduce a bill that pretends to close this gap in our homeland security laws, but, in reality, it would create a system in which it is both legal and likely for suspected terrorists to buy a firearm.

The Republican measure takes no fly, no buy and turns it into no fly, no problem. Under their proposal, if a known or suspected terrorist attempts to buy a weapon, they will be denied that ability for a mere 3 days.

From the moment they attempt to purchase that firearm, the following things must happen, all within 72 hours, to prevent that purchase: the Attorney General must file a petition in Federal court; the court must schedule a hearing; the suspect must be provided actual notice and the opportunity to appear at that hearing with a lawyer; the court must rule on the petition. And if all those things do not occur in 3 days, the suspect is legally entitled to buy a weapon.

Not only does the Republican bill set an impossible timeline, it also requires the Justice Department to meet an extremely high burden of proof. A sale would only be prevented if the court finds probable cause that the suspect has committed or will commit an act of terrorism.

The Republican proposal is specifically designed to ensure the Justice Department fails and the suspect is allowed to buy a gun. It is a fig leaf to cover up the Republicans' refusal to take any meaningful action on gun violence. It is no surprise that this bill is supported by the gun lobby.

Instead of spending our time on toothless, ineffective proposals, we should vote on the original no fly, no buy bill that will keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.

We are also demanding a vote on a bipartisan proposal to require that commercial gun purchases include a background check, background checks for all. I have yet to hear one good explanation on why this should not be the law of the land. If a dangerous person cannot pass a background check at a licensed gun dealer, they should not be able to avoid a background check by going to a gun show or purchasing a firearm over the Internet.

In States that have closed loopholes in their background check laws, 48 percent fewer on-duty police officers are shot to death--but my colleagues across the aisle still refuse to hold a vote.

Mr. Speaker, 33,000 people were killed by gun violence in America last year. The American people deserve more than moments of silence. They deserve action to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

They deserve to have their voices heard. They deserve to send their kids to school without fearing an assault-style weapon will be waiting for them. But, at the very least, they deserve to know where each Member of Congress stands. I am asking my Republican colleagues to find the courage to hold a vote on real gun violence prevention legislation that will save American lives.