June 20, 2019

Senator Hassan Calls for Senate to Take Action to Prevent Gun Violence, Expand Background Checks to All Gun Sales

gun

To watch the Senator’s full speech, click here

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan took to the Senate floor today to call for her colleagues in the Senate to take action to prevent gun violence and expand background checks to all gun sales. The Senator’s speech comes on the heels of the fourth anniversary of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and the three-year anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

 

“After each of these tragedies, we say ‘never again’ and ‘enough is enough’,” Senator Hassan said. “But after each mass shooting, Congress fails to take action. The discussion fades into the background until another tragedy occurs. Then this same cycle is repeated. Mr. President, it is unacceptable that Congress has still yet to take meaningful action to address this epidemic.”

 

As part of the steps Congress should take to prevent gun violence, Senator Hassan called on her colleagues to vote to expand background checks to all gun sales.

 

“According to the Department of Justice, since 1994, background checks have stopped over three million dangerous individuals from obtaining guns – including people with violent criminal records, domestic abusers, and those with mental health issues,” Senator Hassan said. But we know that there continue to be loopholes in that system…We need to extend background checks to all gun sales and ensure that people who are legally barred from owning guns cannot easily access them.”

 

“I come from a state with a long tradition of responsible gun ownership…I respect that tradition and that I am committed to upholding it. But I know that people in New Hampshire do not want dangerous weapons in the wrong hands.”

 

The Senator concluded her speech by highlighting how Granite Staters, and particularly young people, continue to speak out and voice their frustration with Congress’s lack of action to prevent gun violence.

 

“Last year, I was proud to march with students in Nashua who organized their own March for Our Lives rally. And students across our state have engaged in everything from writing to public officials to staging walk-outs,” Senator Hassan concluded. “They are demanding that we take action. And Congress needs to listen to them.”

 

See below for Senator Hassan’s full speech or click here:

 

Mr. President, I rise today to join my colleagues who have come to the floor this week to call for action to prevent gun violence.

 

On Tuesday, we marked the four-year anniversary of the horrific shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where a white supremacist killed nine people during Bible study.

 

And last week was the three-year anniversary of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, when an act of terror and hatred took the lives of 49 people in the LGBTQ community.

 

After each of these tragedies, we say “never again” and “enough is enough”

 

But after each mass shooting, Congress fails to take action. The discussion fades into the background until another tragedy occurs. Then this same cycle is repeated.

 

Mr. President, it is unacceptable that Congress has still yet to take meaningful action to address this epidemic.

 

The victims who have been lost, their families, and those who have experienced life changing injuries and trauma deserve action as do all of our communities, because nearly every aspect of American life has been afflicted by gun violence.

 

And nowhere is the impact of gun violence, and the way it has changed our lives, more clear than in our nation's schools. Just this year, a friend of mine's son started kindergarten, and shortly after the school year started, he and his other kindergarten peers had to participate in a drill - what to do if there's an active shooter or danger in your school. 

 

At about the same time that my friend received information from the school that her son would be participating in a locked down of sorts - a lock down for five-year-olds - she read an article by a teacher who had participated with her young students in such an active shooter drill. 

 

You know what the teacher noticed? She noticed that when she got the kids still and turned off the lights in the room so that they could practice staying safe, she noticed the little light in the soles of their sneakers. You know those little light up shoes that children have? 

 

And the teacher wrote that she realized, that if those children came to school with those shoes on a day when there was a shooter, even with the lights down they'd be targets. 

 

Well needless to say my friend's son no longer has light-up sneakers. 

 

Mr. President, it is time to finally meet words with action.

 

It is time to finally take steps to keep the American people safe.

 

It is time to finally pass commonsense gun laws.

 

Mr. President, a good start to address this public safety issue would be to improve our background check system.

 

According to the Department of Justice, since 1994, background checks have stopped over three million dangerous individuals from obtaining guns – including people with violent criminal records, domestic abusers, and those with mental health issues.

 

But we know that there continue to be loopholes in that system. Research indicates that millions of guns are sold each year to individuals without background checks.

 

We need to extend background checks to all gun sales and ensure that people who are legally barred from owning guns cannot easily access them.

 

I've joined with Senator Murphy – who has been a passionate, dedicated leader on this issue – on legislation to do just that.

 

And earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan gun safety legislation aimed at improving our background check system.

 

There is real momentum and urgency on this issue. And strengthening background checks is a measure that the American people overwhelmingly support.

 

Unfortunately, Republican leadership in the Senate is more focused on putting the priorities of the gun lobby ahead of the will of the American people.  

 

It is outrageous that some in this body suggest that there is simply nothing that we can do to stop the gun violence that has plagued our country…

 

The refusal to even bring up gun safety legislation for consideration is unconscionable.

 

That must change.

 

Mr. President, I come from a state with a long tradition of responsible gun ownership. People across New Hampshire own guns for hunting, sport, and protection.

 

I respect that tradition and that I am committed to upholding it.

 

But I know that people in New Hampshire don't want dangerous weapons in the wrong hands. They are also deeply frustrated that Congress has refused to address the heartbreaking acts of violence that have become far too common in our country.

 

Granite Staters – particularly our young people – are speaking out to voice these frustrations.

 

Last year, I was proud to march with students in Nashua who organized their own March for Our Lives rally. And students across our state have engaged in everything from writing to public officials to staging walk-outs.

 

They are demanding that we take action. And Congress needs to listen to them.

I am going to keep pushing to pass commonsense gun safety laws. And it is long past time that the Senate finally took this issue up for debate.

 

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor. 

 

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