tv U.S. Senate Senate Democrats on Guns Part 1 CSPAN September 18, 2019 7:11am-7:51am EDT
watch guests on arrival in dinner toasts. live coverage begins friday at 6:30 eastern on c-span, online, c-span.org, or listen on the free c-span radio apps. >> c-span is back in the morning, iowa for live campaign 2020 coverage of the polk county annual steak fry beginning at 2:00 pm eastern where 18 presidential candidates will take the stage for speeches. watch the state fry live on c-span, c-span.org or listen live on the go using the c-span radio apps. >> senate democrats came to the senate floor tuesday evening to talk about gun violence and background check legislation. each member spoke about recent mass shootings and called on mitch mcconnell to bring the house past gun background check bill to the floor. here is a look at some of the debate.
>> i rise this evening with many of my democratic colleagues to speak about an issue on the minds of families all across the country. i want to thank senator murphy for organizing this important action this evening. back to school always brings back such great memories of my own children, my son and daughter. i remember them packing crayons and paper and new backpacks and heading off to meet their new teachers and catch up with friends, to talk about what they did during the summer. it has always been such an exciting time of year for them. unfortunately, it is not the same now for their children, my grandchildren. i have two grandsons and a granddaughter that are now in school.
the first new question that was asked when buying their backpacks was do you want a bulletproof backpack? do you want a bulletproof backpack? was one of the questions. in buying their backpacks for school. i also think of two weeks ago when my youngest grandson, who was in school, started second-grade. my daughter and i were talking about the fact that in addition to all the excitement and energy around starting school there were changes, like a new front door and bulletproof windows and i knew a way to get into the school walking in and having to stop and go through another door and all the
changes in costs going into reconfiguring the school so that you can't walk directly intolassrooms. important, it is important for the school to do that. but i am sure that what they would rather have been doing was adding more music and art classes and teachers and technology and other things for the children in the elementary school rather than bulletproof windows and safety doors to stop a gunman from getting into the school. americans have learned that whether it is a school, a store, a church, a country music festival, a movie theater or even sitting on your front porch, no place is safe anymore. thanks to this country's epidemic of gun violence, even
a child playing football in his own backyard or doing homework at the kitchen table in her own home can become a target of a stray bullet. last week senate democrats released a report that showed 100 americans are killed by guns every single day. 100 people every single day. that's enough people to fill every desk in this chamber day after day after day. 100. people killed by gun violence every single day. since the house past a bipartisan background check, there have been an estimated 20,200 people killed by gun violence. 12,322 suicides using a gun. and 808 children, 808 children
killed by firearms. those are some of the numbers but we are not just here to talk about numbers. we are talking about people lives. these people have names like judy and barbara and mary jo and mary lou and richard and tyler. these six people were killed in 2016 when an uber driver went on a shooting spree across kalamazoo county, michigan. two other people, abigail and tiana, were gravely wounded. tiana watched the car coming toward her and father driver pull out a handgun. tiana told her daughters to run and stood still to shield them. once she knew they were safe she tried to get away too. the gunman pulled the trigger 15 times. tiana was shot four times. only when she laid on the
ground and played dead did the bullets stopped. broken bodies, shattered families, grieving communities. this story is one that is repeated across the country every single day now and it has to stop! the american people expect the senate to do its job and take action to make their lives better and safer. unfortunately, that isn't happening, and the american people are paying the price. 202 days ago, 202 days ago, the democratic house past the bipartisan background check act, 202 days ago. it would require a background checks for every gun sale. something pretty simple and common sense. that could have stopped the shooter in west texas who skilled we 7 innocent people and wounded another 25.
it makes you wonder how many of the 301 mass shootings that have happened since january 1st could have been prevented and how many lives could have been saved. requiring a background check for every gun in this country isn't controversial. it is what americans are asking for. it is pretty common sense. i come from rural michigan and in northern michigan, if my whole family is involved in hunting and all the great outdoor sports and i lived with legal safe gun ownership my whole life, no one in my family believes someone should buy a gun without getting a background check. it is common sense. that is why more than 90% of americans want congress to do just that, to pass universal background checks. and get the bill sits on the
senate republican leaders's desk. senator mcconnell's desk, waiting, waiting, waiting for action, for 202 days. mitch mcconnell and donald trump wait for approval from big-money special interests, americans are dying. time to act. the beginning of school should be something our young people look forward to, not fear. next year, students at freeport high-scoring west michigan will attend a brand-new school, in a brand-new building. it has all sorts of amenities, ten science classrooms with spacious labs and the drafting lab with a 3-d printer and art studios complete with pattern count. it will also feature curved hallways to reduce the
shooter's sites. shatterproof glass and wing walls that will provide places for students to hide. in classrooms. it is great the school district is investing in the safety of its students, but it is also heartbaking that they have to do so. students across michigan should be focused on next week's football game, not where they conduct and take cover in their school. it is time for america to stop failing our young people. majority leader mcconnell, what are you waiting for? d thfloor. >> mister president. >> senator from illinois. >> i want to thank my colleague from michigan and those who
joined together on the democratic side to speak out on the issue of gun safety this afternoon and this evening. i guess one of the blessings in life is to have a grandchild and i have 6 really good ones and one of them is a little girl who just entered the third grade in a public school in brooklyn, new york, she is a sweetheart and i love her to places. she came home to tell her mom and dad last year when she was in second grade that they just had a drill in her classroom and they told her what to do if someone showed up in the hallway or outside with a gun. hide under the desk, stay away from the windows and to think that little 7-year-old girl had to receive that kind of warning in america today breaks my heart. why? does anyone really believe when the second amendment to the constitution was written they
envisioned the fear that would go through the minds of children who after connecticut worrying the shooter would come in with a semi automatic weapon and kill dozens of kids one moment? that is the reality of gun violence today, one of the realities and one that breaks my heart as a father and grandfather. over the past few weeks our nation has been rocked by mass shootings in el paso and dayton and odessa, texas. 38 victims again, dozens injured. according to the gun violence archive so far this year there have been 300 mass shootings, more than four people were shot in one event. this is in addition to the daily toll of gun homicides, suicides and accidents the kill nearly 40,000 americans a year. every week i see grim
statistics of people killed and wounded by gunfire in my home state of illinois. this past weekend, just this past weekend in chicago eight were killed, 19 injured by gunfire. gun violence is an epidemic in america. it affects communities large and small, mid countless people who lost loved ones or been traumatized by gun violence, millions of americans live in fear of when they send their kids, grandkids off to school, when they go to a movie theater, concert, church or on their front porch they could be shot. this is unacceptable. america is better than this. many people in this great nation are doing all they can to reduce the epidemic of shootings, parents, community leaders, teachers, faith leaders, law enforcement, the medical community and public officials but what are we doing
in the united states senate? the answer is nothing, nothing! there is no single reform that can prevent every shooting but we know there are big gaps in our gun laws that make it easy for felons, abusers and mentally unstable people to get their hands on guns. closing these gaps and loopholes in our background check system would significantly reduce shootings and save lives. it is estimated 22% of gun sales nationwide currently occur without background checks. i know critics say great, senator, you will have better background checks. people that want the guns won't go through that process. turns out last year 100,000 of them were ignorant enough to try and they were caught in the act. they had been disqualified from purchasing a firearm under federal law and yet they tried. why would we ever let them successfully by a firearm without a real background check they will. gun show internet internet
loopholes are the problems that haunt us today. they enable unlicensed sellers to make sales without checking on the background of the buyer. according to news reports the gunmen in odessa, texas, mass shooting, but his gun through a private sale with no background check because he previously failed a check. clearly there is a gap in the law that needs to be closed. polling consistently shows 90% of americans support closing these gaps in the background check system. how many other issues do 90% of americans agree on cute you to have that kind of number, democrats, republicans and independents, the people of america are trying to tell the senators to do something and yet mitch mcconnell refuses. even the conservative republican lieutenant governor of texas, dan patrick, has
called for closing these gaps in the background check system. i hope the senators from lieutenant governor patrick upstate listen. the house of representatives listened and they have done so. the bipartisan house background check bill, hr 8 past the house 240-190 on the bipartisan rollcall on february 27th. here we are over 200 days later and the senate which does virtually nothing every single day, the senate, through senator mcconnell's leadership, refuses to even consider this bill. said republicans refused to even consider the bipartisan house past safety legislation that americans of both political parties overwhelmingly support. in fact, they are not taking up any bills at all, week after week after week we vote on nomination after nomination
after nomination. we hardly ever debate. we hardly ever vote on legislation to address the needs the american people say our primary concerns in their minds. republican leadership in the senate these days doesn't seem to like to vote but they do like to tweet. perhaps we shouldn't be surprised when one of our republican colleagues, junior senator from texas responded to a recent mass shooting by tweeting criticism of gun laws in the city of chicago. there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding by this senator and some other republicans who believe despite what the maps show us, chicago is an island, it is not. they seem to think there is no way people can actually drive 20 minutes into northwest indiana, go to a gun show, by a truck load of guns and silverman the alleyways of the city of chicago at night. it happens. it is the reason a state law can't solve the problem.
chicago's mayor, my friend lori lightfoot, pointed out the obvious to the junior senator from texas. 60% of illegal firearms recovered in chicago come from out-of-state. that is why we need a federal background check reform bill like the one that passed the house. mayor lightfoot is right and she graciously invited ted cruz, our colleague, to visit chicago, see that it is not an island, it is connected to other states, to see what the city is doing trying to work to reduce the scourge of gun violence and republican senators, if they really want to help, can help by passing legislation for true background checks. i hope the senator from texas accepts the invitation. it is a great town. we would like to show it to him. another area we have fallen short is public safety threats posed by violent white supremacists. i introduce the domestic
terrorist prevention act, the only legislation pending in the senate to address white supremacist violence. the gunmen in the mass shooting in el paso posted a white supremacist manifesto before he shot and killed 22 people and injured 24 others at a walmart. unfortunately not an isolated incident. the joint intelligence bulletin found, quote, white supremacist extremism poses a persistent threat of lethal violence and also found white supremacists, quote, were responsible for 49 homicide in 26 attacks in 2016. more than any other domestic extremist group. i asked the fbi director mister ray, with the mystic terrorism, and white nationalist and they call themselves white i
didn'titaryans. the most significant to mystic terrorist group facing america today. what have we done to address this? nothing. just like hr 8, just like the gun safety legislation which we should be considering, senator mcconnell refuses to bring anything before the senate. my bill cosponsored by 21 senators including democratic leader senator schumer establishes offices to combat domestic terrorism in the justice department, fbi and department of homeland security. these offices will be required to take concrete steps to prevent domestic terrorism including assessing and publicly reporting on domestic terrorism threats, focusing limited resources on the significant threats and providing information, training and resources to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement. this would produce a sustained coordinated effort with significantly more resources
directed toward combating white supremacist violence. it would make america safer. time for the senate republican majority leader, senator mcconnell, to let the senate be a senate, to actually debate. i stand tonight on the floor, honored to be here but let's face it. i am giving a speech to a largely empty chamber in the hopes that some following the speech on c-span or reading it later may take some information of value from it. i would rather be engaged in a debate at this moment on hr 8 how to pass it. if necessary how to amend it but to do something to respond to gun violence in chicago and illinois, across the entire united states. it is time for senator mcconnell to let the senate be the senate and vote on house past gun background check bill
and we need to take another critical legislation as well, to prevent gun violence and domestic terrorism. i hope he will consider the bill on white supremacists. this legislation can make us safer and save lives if we could just bring it to a vote. i yield before. >> madam president. >> senator from washington. >> as we grieve with the communities of el paso and dayton and midland i can't help being reminded of the seattle jewish federation, freeman high school and so many communities in my home state of washington and nationwide that are suffering as a result of tragic, and tragically preventable gun violence. after each of these heartbreaking events, families ask
people going about their days at school and movie theater and places of worship, places they should feel safe lose their lives to gun violence. communities the democrats, speak out, we call for commonsense reform like universal background checks which the vast majority of americans support and meanwhile republicans stand by and refuse to take any meaningful action to stop these violent, senseless, preventable death, so nothing happens here in congress. and months, weeks, days or even hours later the cycle starts all over again. every time we have seen this cycle across all the terrible shootings that have plagued our country in recent years there are two common threads.
the first is in response to tragedy, communities have banded together to make their voices heard and press for change. i have been proud of gun advocates in washington state like the alliance for gun responsibility and moms demand action chapters in spokane and across the state who are leading the way and staying determined. the second common thread is senate republicans. every time we push for life-saving reforms that always ends in the same place with the same things standing in the way of change in the most frustrating part of this is there are steps we could take right now today that will save lives. the house has passed the universal background check, hr 8. with bipartisan support, it is now languishing in the senate despite calls for a vote, all because the majority leader
won't bring it up and donald trump who is so willing to use his bully pulpit for far left worthy causes, uses it to take action in ways they could save lives right now. in other words the president and senate republicans continue to make clear they are more interested in protecting the nra than families in my home state and across the country. that is simply unacceptable and democrats are not going to stop calling for action. leader mcconnell should break the cycle here and now by putting hr 8 up for a vote which would implement universal background checks and inexplicable gun show loopholes. considering 80% of americans support universal background checks this bill should be a no-brainer. the first step we need to take for gun violence in the country but can't be the only one. if we are serious about truly putting the end to this epidemic we should look at
legislation to expand access, in my home state of washington to keep guns out of the hands of those in crisis. we should limit magazine sizes, revive the assault weapons and and invest in gun violence research prevention. these common sense reforms can help us begin to break the cycle. that we have got to take action now to curb gun violence and that means starting with the universal background check legislation that is waiting right here in the senate to take action. my democratic colleagues in the senate and i have repeatedly called for a vote on hr 8 and we will keep putting pressure on republicans in the senate until we get one but we can't do it alone. we need to keep lifting up our voices together to demand change as we did after sandy hook, after parkland, after
marysville and now following the terror in texas and ohio. it is not easy. i'm not going to give up and i know millions of parents and grandparents and students and so many across the nation are not going to give up either. together, we can break this senseless cycle and it starts with the majority leader. mister president, we often disagree on steps we believe need to be taken, i believe all of us who are elected in the senate would say we came here to make a difference and certainly to do whatever we could to ensure that the people we represent our safe. right now far too often they are not. the senate is not doing its job. i call on the majority leader to let us vote on hr 8. let's send it to the president's desk, do what the vast majority of americans want us to do and take the first step to stop gun violence so we can finally begin to put a stop
to this terrible, deadly cycle. thank you, i yield the floor. >> senator from new mexico. >> madam president, we are all coming to the senate floor to demand the we finally take real steps to address our nation's gun violence epidemic. this epidemic is wide reaching and knows no bounds. we need to listen to the students and the young people who have grown weary from so many shootings at our schools. in my home state of new mexico, in recent years, we have seen gun violence tragically take the lives of high school students in clovis and last month college students in hodge. every student and teacher should feel safe at school. no parent should have to live in fear of their child not
coming home at the end of the day. across our nation, we have witnessed with grave horror mass shooters armed with assault rifles gun down americans in churches, in synagogues, in concert venues and shopping centers. amid our grief and anguish americans have come together to call on their leaders to not let this senseless, heart wrenching violence continue unabated. they are calling on us to do something. we can no longer accept these horrific shootings as the status quo. in my hometown of albuquerque just last thursday night, five people, including 3 teenagers were shot to death in multiple shootings across the city. six others were wounded and while police were investigating senseless acts of violence no
one can tell me this level of gun violence was acceptable and there are things we can do. there is no doubt this debate brings up emotional and difficult questions. there are challenges we need to grapple with that are fueling gun violence in america. the violence we have witnessed have been inspired by hateful ideologies, racist bigotry and divisive rhetoric. we need to acknowledge they were carried out with deadly weapons, weapons that we are clearly not doing enough to keep out of the hands of those who seek to cause us harm. we may not all agree on what steps should be taken at the federal level to address this crisis but can we at least
agree something needs to be done to combat the epidemic of gun violence in the country? we need to listen to our nation's students and mothers who are calling for us to come together on the things we can agree on. at the very least that includes universal background checks, there is bipartisan legislation on background checks the past out of the house that is sitting on the majority leader's desk right now. let's vote on that bill. someone who can't pass a background check should not be allowed to purchase a firearm. we shouldn't be putting guns in the hands of those convicted of domestic violence or sexual assault continue to be a threat to their victims. the one found by family and friends to be a danger to themselves and their community should not be in the
possession, if our government has put someone on a no-fly list because of the risk that they pose we shouldn't allow that potential terrorists to buy a gun. i can't frankly understand how any of that is controversial. the senate majority is refusing to ask -- act. they are hoping if they hide long enough, if they hide long enough, this will just blow over. can we at least agree that more public help and scientific research is needed on this gun violence epidemic? all of us in some way are grasping for answers on the unparalleled violence but even funding research is being vetoed by the nra. it is hard to believe senate republicans could find a way to be against so many common sense
solutions. nearly every solution has been rejected. the overwhelming majority of americans including gun owners like myself agree congress needs to take these steps to address gun violence. this is not an issue i take lightly. like many americans i'm a gun owner. with that privilege should come a great deal of responsibility. i'm teaching my two sons how to responsibly use firearms. when we sit down to a meal including red meat, it is always from the wild game the we harvested. you will find when you talk to most gun owners, most sportsmen, they, more anyone, know how much we need to respect the deadly force
inherent in these tools. most agree that we should make sure firearms are used responsibly and safely. those of us in congress should never behind phony arguments that use fear to intimidate us away from action. americans are desperate for us to act so i will join my democratic colleagues once again in calling on majority leader mcconnell and donald trump. enough is enough. it is long past time to do something, to stop hiding. it is long past time for us to finally turn our nation's grief and frustration into meaningful action to protect our kids and our communities. madam president, i yield the floor. >> senator from new york.
>> madam president, i rise to join my colleague, senator heinrich and the others who have come before on calling on senator mcconnell to act now to address the gun crisis in our country. every day the senate republican leader has refused to act they are making a choice to be complicit as more lives continue to be lost. people across my state and the country want to see action and they are tired of waiting for it. i have met with countless families across new york who lost their children, thousands, friends, community memories, neighbors, to gun violence. i have met people who have survived mass shootings, people who live every day with the threat of gun violence in their neighborhoods. i heard their stories and seen how their lives have been torn apart by gun violence. today i want to tell some of those stories to you. one of my constituents from long island and a father of
young children was at the root 91 harvest music festival in las vegas. he heard loud popping noises and soon realized they weren't coming from the performance on stage but from a gun. as the shooter fired round after round he stood behind a middle vending machine for protection. the bullets being fired around him were so powerful he could actually feel the shockwaves. he said he would never forget the silence of 20,000 people at a concert where the horrific screams of grown men and women he could hear as the gunman loaded. he was lucky. he survived. but 58 people did not, and many more were injured. another new yorker had to make
the unthinkable decision to take her husband off life support after he was shot in a crossfire of two rival gangs at a community festival in brooklyn. he was just an innocent bystander and ironically an attorney for the state who helped pass the new york space act which set a precedent for one of the strongest gun laws in the country but he was not in uniform gun violence. her husband's life and bright light were extinguished by guns. at the trial, a criminal testified about how easy it was for him to purchase a gun and traffic it from georgia to new york. it should not be this easy for criminals to get access to dangerous weapons. it should not be so easy for lives to be taken so
senselessly. one mother i met in new york, jackie adams, lost not one but two sons to gun violence. one of her sons was shot when he was 17 years old outside harlem. the reason, two men with a gun believed that her son was staring at them so they killed him. miss adams lost her second son to gun violence during a robbery outside of her apartment. the boy who shot him was 13 years old. he should never have had access to a gun. that is the horror of being a mother and losing two of your sons to gun violence and then there is another one of my constituents, edwin vargas, 16-year-old son was killed on
halloween when an unknown gunman decided to fire his weapon into the crowd in a neighborhood in the bronx. the gunman was irritated group of teenagers who were throwing eggs in his neighborhood so he began to randomly shoot into the crowd. the gunman hit three innocent bystanders. the wheeze was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. these are the tragic stories, heart-wrenching stories new yorkers have shared with me but they are by no means unique. in every state around the country there are too many stories just like these. the reality is mass shootings can and have happened in every corner of this country in all types of places. gun violence is becoming the new normal in america. it has happened in arizona, madam president.
but we do not live in a country mass shootings occur in our schools, houses of warship, our movie theaters, playgrounds, stores, community gatherings and nightclubs. m president, i am speaking to you and every other republican in this chamber. because we all have a responsibility to do the right thing and stand up to the nra and stand up to the greed and corruption in this country today as it makes every decision about whether we have a vote on common sense gun reform! i could poll your state for you. i could ask every nra member in america, do you support universal background checks, banning lae magazines, military style weapons, leave them in the hands of the very members, not someone who walks into a store and buys it because he wants to shoot large numbers of people in minutes and seconds, that is what is happening in america today! and i would like you to look
up! because i have to say this is something all of us should be caring about! especially from arizona where my dear friend gabby giffords was shot for doing her job, a young girl showed up to meet her congresswoman and died. it is not okay. the time for turning a blind eye is over! i yield the floor. >> i think my colleagues for their indulgence this evening and those of you who helped us keep this floor open. i will make some longer remarks later this evening but while we have a short break on the floor awaiting senator brown to arrive i wanted to say a word of appreciation to all of my colleagues who decided to join us on the floor. this is my