Gun Violence

Floor Speech

Date: Feb. 26, 2018
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Guns


Ms. LEE. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Congressman Evans for his tremendous leadership and his friendship, and I thank him for hosting this very important Special Order hour. His leadership in our caucus to fight the epidemic of gun violence in America is bold, it is visionary, and I thank him for calling us together tonight.

Mr. Speaker, let me also just acknowledge my sister and colleague Congresswoman Robin Kelly, who spoke earlier. Congresswoman Kelly chairs our Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and she continues to demand that gun violence be treated as the public health crisis that it is.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today with my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus to say enough is enough. The epidemic of gun violence in America must be brought to an end.

Two weeks ago, the world stood in shock as yet another gunman massacred innocent students and teachers in an American school. The 19- year-old killer legally purchased an AR-15 assault rifle and killed 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

My heart goes out to the victims, their classmates, families, and the entire Parkland community. We must take action so that this never happens again. Newtown, Aurora, Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Parkland, this is not normal in a civilized society.

The United States of America is the only developed nation that experiences mass shootings with this level of frequency. This doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. Of course, we know it is because the National Rifle Association can't buy their votes in other countries, and the children's lives come first.

Speaker Ryan and the Republicans in Congress have been bought by the National Rifle Association, making it easier for mass shootings to occur.

Let me just say that mass shootings in public schools, unfortunately, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to gun violence in America. Our communities, especially our urban communities, are war zones.

On an average day, 93 innocent lives in America are cut short due to gun violence. This year alone, there have been over 8,200 incidents of gun violence in America, including 24 mass shootings. These senseless acts of violence have taken more than 2,200 lives already.

I represent the 13th Congressional District of California in the bay area, which includes the city of Oakland, which has been brutalized by gun violence. Since 2014, 312 of my constituents have had their lives cut short by gun violence. Our community feels their loss every single day. Here are just a few of their names and tragic stories.

Davon Ellis: Davon was a star football player and an excellent student at Oakland Tech High School. He was shot and killed while walking home from school. My nephew was walking with him when he was gunned down.

Travon Godfrey: Travon was killed in 2016 while sitting in a car with his friends in front of his home. Every time I think about Travon, my heart breaks. Travon came to a town meeting that I held on gun violence in January of 2016.

He was worried about coming to that town meeting, and he shared the toll that gun violence had taken on his life and that of his friends' lives, yet he was determined to make a difference and finish school and go on to college. Less than a year later, on November 28 in 2016, Travon and his lifelong friend, Deante Miller, were shot and killed in broad daylight.

Anibal Andres Ramirez: Anibal was Oakland's youngest gun victim in 2017. He was only 13 years old and was shot outside of a community center.

Francisca Martinez Ramirez: She was one of Oakland's first homicide victims in 2018, killed by her husband during a domestic dispute.

Sadly, these heartbreaking stories are all too familiar in communities across the country. More than 30,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence each year. Shootings now kill as many Americans as car accidents.

Last year, there were 77 gun violence homicides in my home city of Oakland.

Already this year there have been 12. This is only February, Mr. Speaker. How much bloodshed will we see this year?

We need action and we need it now. We need to pass, of course, the bipartisan King-Thompson legislation that strengthens background checks and keeps guns out of the wrong hands. And, yes, we need to reinstitute a ban on assault weapons to get these weapons of war out of our communities. We need to close the gun show loophole once and for all.

Passing our assistant leader Congressman Clyburn's legislation to close the 3-day loophole to require background checks to be completed before you can buy a gun, that legislation is long overdue. That is common sense.

At some point we have to stand up and say enough is enough and stand up to this NRA. Ninety-seven percent of Americans support some kind of gun violence prevention legislation.

So that is why I am standing here tonight with my colleagues from the CBC demanding that the Speaker take action and bring commonsense gun legislation to the floor for a vote.

Give us a vote, Speaker Ryan, give us a vote.