We Have to Make A Decision

Floor Speech

Date: July 5, 2016
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BASS. Mr. Speaker, in the month of June, 22 people were murdered by guns in Los Angeles. The oldest person was 46, and the youngest was 3. On one day alone, June 11, eight people were killed. We all know the statistics: every 24 hours, 30 people are killed in the United States by guns. The leading cause of paralysis is gun violence.

People around the Nation have demanded action from Congress. When I returned to my district after the protest, I was met with cheers and standing ovations. People said, Finally, finally they saw us act. Finally, they saw us fight. Fight against the NRA, which has a stranglehold on Congress. My constituents reflect the over 90 percent of the U.S. public that is demanding that we act and pass legislation to address the carnage from gun violence.

I am proud to say that the State legislature in California has acted. Now Congress needs to act. The Governor signed five bills recently passed by the legislature. In California it is now against the law to possess ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Background checks are now required to purchase ammunition. The Governor signed bills that ban bullet buttons designed to make it easy to detach a magazine and reload, a creative idea from gun manufacturers to get around the assault weapon ban when it was in effect.

Other bills signed by the Governor prohibit the lending of guns to family members who have not completed background checks, and people who knowingly make false reports about the loss or theft of a gun cannot possess firearms for 10 years. The bills were signed too late to have saved the 22 people who died in Los Angeles, but I have no doubt that these laws will help reduce death and injury from gun violence.

I am proud California is setting an example for the Nation, and it is my hope after the tremendous public response and demand that we act, that we pass sensible legislation to bring an end to the deaths and injuries. It is very difficult to explain to constituents how someone considered too dangerous to purchase an airline ticket is not too dangerous to buy a gun.

The no fly, no buy legislation authored by Republican Representative Peter King is a modest piece of legislation that is really a first step. All of us are clear, much more needs to be done: comprehensive background checks, closing the gun show loophole.

My Republican colleagues argue that we don't need any new laws, we just need to enforce the ones we already have, but then hypocritically claim the President is overstepping his authority when he increases resources to the ATF so that they can modernize their technology to address Internet sales. The last time serious legislation was passed, the Internet didn't exist.

The shooter who killed the nine churchgoers in South Carolina might have been blocked from purchasing a weapon, but his background check wasn't processed in time. Three days or you get your gun. Without the staffing and the technology, 3 days is almost impossible; and although he shouldn't have had a gun because of a prior arrest, he was able to purchase anyway.

As a nation, at some point we have to make a decision. The decision is ours. As a legislative body, we have to decide who rules this place.

Is it a handful of industries that dictate what we do?

I can name just a few industries that cause my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to vote however the industry decides, not their constituents. If they voted with their constituents who, poll after poll, say 85 percent of Republicans support sensible gun control. They vote the way an industry dictates or they face the consequences of an independent expenditure campaign and an opponent.

In memory of the following people who were killed in one day in Los Angeles, I mention their names:

June 11, Jesus Alfredo Duran, 31 years old;

June 11, Eddie Hernandez, 22 years old;

June 11, Stephanie Gonzalez, 17 years old;

June 11, Kimberly Gonzalez, Stephanie's sister, 13 years old;

June 11, Johnny Mark Elizalde, 27 years old;

June 11, Juan Zataray, 43 years old;

June 11, Jose Rene Espinoza, 46 years old;

June 11, Cynthia Ambriz, 19 years old.