February 28, 2018

Senator Hassan Speaks on Senate Floor about Importance of Common-Sense Gun Safety Legislation

FloorspeechGV

Click here for footage of the Senator’s remarks. 

WASHINGTON - Senator Maggie Hassan spoke today on the Senate floor in support of common-sense legislation to help prevent gun violence and protect our communities.

In her remarks, Senator Hassan highlighted the brave advocacy of Stoneman Douglas students in the wake of the shooting that killed 17 members of the Parkland, Florida high school community.

The Senator emphasized the need for responsible policies such as implementing Red Flag Laws, which allow courts to issue time-limited restraining orders to restrict access to firearms when there is evidence that an individual is planning to harm them self or others; improving the background check system to prevent criminals and other dangerous individuals from accessing guns; and reducing access to weapons of war that fire at high rates and inflict massive harm. Senator Hassan also highlighted the importance of ending the ban on the Center for Disease Control from conducting public health research on gun violence.

Key Points:

 

  • “Over the past years, the epidemic of gun violence has touched every aspect of American life. From schools and churches, to concerts, nightclubs, and movie theaters – in homes and in the workplace. After each of these tragedies we say enough is enough. Yet, time and again Congress fails to take action, and the discussion fades until this deadly cycle once again repeats itself.”

 

  • “People across New Hampshire own guns for hunting, sport, and protection. New Hampshire has a long tradition of responsible gun ownership that I respect and that I am committed to upholding. But I also know, that people in New Hampshire do not want dangerous weapons in the wrong hands.”

 

  • “In a country with a government ‘of, by and for the people’ it is simply an outrage to suggest that there is nothing the people who govern themselves can do to ensure that their gun safety laws evolve as firearm technology creates weapons of increasing lethality.”

 

  • “Students in Parkland and young people across the country are speaking out and making clear that they don’t want to live this way. They don’t want the horror that they experienced to be inflicted on more of their peers. These young voices are speaking up and sparking a conversation that has been absent or has been pushed to the wayside for far too long. It’s up to us to meet them in this moment.”

 

See below for Senator Hassan’s full remarks:

 

I want to thank my colleagues for their words on this difficult, challenging topic.

Mr. President, on this day two weeks ago, the Parkland, Florida community “took 17 bullets to the heart” as Cameron, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, so devastatingly put it. 

Over the past years, the epidemic of gun violence has touched every aspect of American life. From schools and churches, to concerts, nightclubs, and movie theaters – in homes and in the workplace.

After each of these tragedies we say enough is enough. Yet, time and again Congress fails to take action, and the discussion fades until this deadly cycle once again repeats itself.

But, Mr. President, we cannot allow this vicious cycle to continue.

Like many Americans, I’ve been inspired and touched by the bravery of the students of Stoneman Douglas, and by their determination to create from this tragedy a legacy of positive change. 

They are looking to us to help ensure that they are the last students who suffer through a mass shooting. They will hold us accountable, as they should.

I’ve been inspired by students like Sam, who said he doesn’t feel safe in his own country and powerfully asked at the White House: “How did we not stop this after Columbine? After Sandy Hook?”

And Emma, who has been calling out elected officials for the excuses they make for putting the priorities of the gun lobby ahead of the safety and well-being of their constituents. Emma and her classmates rightly have called these excuses, “B.S”

Mr. President, we must actually listen to these students, and we must act to protect them and all of our children.

People across New Hampshire own guns for hunting, sport, and protection. New Hampshire has a long tradition of responsible gun ownership that I respect and that I am committed to upholding. But I also know, that people in New Hampshire do not want dangerous weapons in the wrong hands.

It is our job to keep our citizens safe. And we owe it to the students and survivors who are speaking out, to those we have lost to tragic violence, and to their families and loved ones, to come together and make our communities safer.

The level of gun violence in America is a public health crisis that is unique to our nation. And like all public health challenges, there are actions we can take to mitigate harm and save lives. We can put in place responsible, common-sense policies that will do just that.

To start, Mr. President, we know that the shooter in Parkland displayed warning signs that, if properly heeded and addressed, may have prevented the incident, the massacre. But when law enforcement was called because of these warning signs, it’s not clear that they had tools that would have allowed them to confiscate the shooter’s weapons…

So, one of the things we must do is ensure that every state has what are known as Red Flag Laws – laws which allow courts to issue time-limited restraining orders to restrict access to firearms when there is evidence that an individual is planning to harm them self or others.  

It is also long past time that we improve our background check system to close loopholes and ensure that people who are already legally barred from owning guns cannot easily access them – a step that we know is supported by the vast majority of Americans.

Studies have shown a correlation between gun violence and people with a history of domestic violence… We must close loopholes that enable domestic abusers to access guns.

Additionally, Mr. President, for too long the Centers for Disease Control has been barred from conducting public health research on gun violence. We must change that.  

Finally, from banning the use of bump stocks, to raising the purchasing age of semiautomatic weapons to 21 – we must look at responsible steps to reduce access to deadly weapons of war that fire at high rates and inflict massive harm.

Mr. President, no one gun safety measure is perfect and no gun safety measure will stop every act of gun violence – but that should not stop us from taking action. After all, we take public health measures all the time that don’t prevent all disease, but vastly reduce the incidence of it.

In a country with a government “of, by and for the people” it is simply an outrage to suggest that there is nothing the people who govern themselves can do to ensure that their gun safety laws evolve as firearm technology creates weapons of increasing lethality.

I also refuse to accept the notion that we cannot pass any law to address gun safety because it is too hard or the challenges are too insurmountable. That has not stopped our nation before. And it shouldn’t now.

Students in Parkland and young people across the country are speaking out and making clear that they don’t want to live this way. They don’t want the horror that they experienced to be inflicted on more of their peers.

These young voices are speaking up and sparking a conversation that has been absent or has been pushed to the wayside for far too long. It’s up to us to meet them in this moment.

The purpose of self-government is to make sure that we all do in fact feel safe and valued and that we each have a chance to build a life for ourselves.

Let’s take action to give all of our citizens those opportunities, and keep our people safe from senseless acts of gun violence.

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

 

###