[Congressional Record Volume 164, Number 34 (Monday, February 26, 2018)]
[House]
[Pages H1251-H1257]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                              GUN VIOLENCE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Bacon). Under the Speaker's announced 
policy of January 3, 2017, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Evans) 
is recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.


                             General Leave

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and to include 
extraneous material on the subject of my Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, it is with great honor that I rise today to 
anchor the CBC Special Order. I would like to thank CBC Chairman Cedric 
Richmond for his leadership in this effort. Chairman Richmond has been 
leading this effort and raising the question about when the President 
said what do we have to lose. The chairman indicated that we have a lot 
to lose.
  So for the next 60 minutes, we have an opportunity to speak directly 
to the American people about issues of great importance to the 
Congressional Black Caucus and the millions of constituents we 
represent. Tonight's Special Order is about gun violence. I thank my 
colleagues for joining me here today to speak about the national 
epidemic of gun violence, an important topic to us all.
  The Black community is at a critical time because we have a lot to 
lose because too many of our neighbors, unfortunately, have been 
subject to gun violence at a consistent rate, a crime which often goes 
unpunished because of unreliable witnesses.
  On February 14, this Nation once again witnessed a horrific tragedy 
that took place at a high school in Florida. Seventeen lives were taken 
at the hands of a gunman with way too much firepower. The horror and 
tragedy that shook the Florida high school should be an unimaginable 
event in our country. Yet, tragically, our Nation has lost too many 
loved ones at the hands of gun violence, to the point where we often 
see the same reaction: hand wringing, blaming going around, but nothing 
being done to stop the violence.
  The city of Philadelphia knows all too well the lives we have lost at 
the hands of gun violence. In 2017, we saw the city experience its 
largest homicide epidemic since 2012. There were over 370 homicides in 
Philadelphia, according to the data from the Philadelphia Police 
Department.
  And with the continuing scourge of gun violence in Philadelphia, last 
year I hand-delivered a letter to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh 
Shapiro outlining our Commonwealth's need to use all resources possible 
to advocate for commonsense gun reform. Since I handed that letter to 
the Commonwealth's attorney general, we have had more heartbreaks in 
America, including the unspeakable tragedy at a church, a place of 
worship and refuge, in Texas, and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
  Mr. Speaker, there is a gentleman who is our leader from our Caucus 
who will speak to this issue. He knows an awful lot about it. I have 
watched him in the short period of time I have been here: the Honorable 
 James Clyburn from the Sixth District.
  Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank Representative Evans for yielding 
to me.
  Mr. Speaker, I proudly represent the Sixth Congressional District of 
South Carolina in this august body. This past week, I spent a 
significant amount of time throughout the district meeting with faith 
leaders as well as other community-based organizations. And one of the 
things I kept hearing came from people who are particularly interested 
in whether or not this Congress will do anything to respond to this 
horrific problem that we have with guns.
  Of all the things that I find myself talking about, the one thing 
that bothers me most is the fact that we seem to be no longer safe in 
our most sacred institutions.
  I often quote Alexis de Tocqueville, who came to this country way 
back in the early 1800s seeking what he called the magic of this great 
country. He said that he went throughout the country looking at our 
institutions--educational institutions, legislative bodies--trying to 
find the magic of this great country. Alexis de Tocqueville said that 
he could not find it in any of these places. He said that it was not 
until he went into our churches and

[[Page H1252]]

synagogues that he found the real magic of this great country. He said 
that he came to the conclusion that, in spite of all of the 
difficulties and challenges we had as a country, that America was great 
because Americans are good.
  And he went on to surmise that, if Americans ever cease to be good, 
America will cease to be great. It is kind of interesting that he came 
to that conclusion by visiting our places of worship. And tonight I 
want to remind the American people that that sacred institution has 
been violated time and time again.
  And on this question of gun violence, we remember the Emanuel 9: nine 
soulful Bible study pupils in the basement of their church, once again 
reestablishing the goodness of Americans. They had that goodness 
violated by a young man with a gun who sat among them for a full hour 
before opening fire, killing nine of them.
  Now, when we think about that incident and we ask ourselves how could 
such a thing happen, one of the things that we do know is that this 
young man was able to purchase a weapon, although under the law he was 
not eligible to make the purchase; but because of a loophole that we 
have in the law, a loophole that I have taken to call the ``Charleston 
Loophole,'' which says simply that, if the background check is not 
completed within 3 days, the purchase can proceed to conclusion.
  Now, the fact of the matter is, this gun was purchased in West 
Columbia. I don't know whether or not this young man had enough 
sophistication about the law to give the wrong information about his 
address. but what we do know is that the wrong address was keyed in; 
and because it was keyed in, there was difficulty trying to get the 
information that was needed.

                              {time}  1945

  By the time they found out the problem, the 3 days had expired, and 
the young man went back to get the gun, and, within days, traveled all 
the way from Columbia, South Carolina, down to Charleston.
  He picked this church because, he said, it was historic. He wanted to 
go into a historic Black church.
  Well, this month, the Nation has set aside time to honor the 
contributions of Black Americans. I can think of no way for us to 
better highlight what this month is all about than to, once and for 
all, close this Charleston loophole, to demonstrate to those nine 
African-American worshippers, who were going about the business of 
helping to make this country great, going about the business of 
demonstrating the goodness of Americans, to have their lives snuffed 
out; I can think of no better way for us to honor their lives than for 
us to close this loophole.
  Tomorrow, I am going to come before this body with a discharge 
petition, because the legislation to close this loophole was filed in 
this body last July. It has been hanging around now for 8 months. I am 
going to ask all of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, to sign 
this discharge petition before the end of this Black History Month so 
that we can say to those souls: Rest in peace.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, may I ask the gentleman a question.
  If the gentleman could just talk a little more about that magic he 
talked about and how do we get there. Does the gentleman have any sense 
of how we get there?
  Mr. CLYBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his question.
  I am sort of a history buff, and so I have spent a little time trying 
to find out what this country is all about. I also recall a great 
writer, George Santayana, once writing that if we fail to learn the 
lessons of our history, we are bound to repeat them.
  I believe that history should be instructive, and I think that that 
is what de Tocqueville was talking about in his writings. He really 
came to this country, from France, to study our penal system on that 
particular occasion, but he was enamored with this country because of 
its people.
  Now, the interesting thing about this, remember, the early 1800s when 
he came here, slavery was the law of the land, and he wrote about how 
contradictory that was to what he found in people's hearts, the 
goodness that he found in people.
  So irrespective of what the challenges may be of the various 
institutions that we may have, the various legal issues that may come 
before us, the various legislative accomplishments we might make, 
irrespective of all that, there is a certain goodness in Americans that 
ought to be on demonstration at all times.
  I really feel that it will demonstrate that goodness if we can say to 
these nine souls that, just as Alexis de Tocqueville found in our 
places of worship, what the basic goodness about America is all about, 
that is what they were in pursuit of as they sat in the basement of 
their church, Emanuel AME, on Calhoun Street, Charleston, South 
Carolina, they were there perpetuating that goodness, and it was 
violated.
  I believe that this body can take a long step toward demonstrating 
how important that is by saying, in their memory, we are going to close 
this loophole so that their nine souls can rest in peace.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for his comments.
  Mr. Speaker, you just heard the gentleman from South Carolina, in my 
view, lay out a very clear vision of what it should be like from an 
aspirational standpoint.
  Speaking of the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus leading the 
conscience of this body, the gentleman from the great State of 
Louisiana, he knows a little bit about that--from my understanding, 
there is legislation that he has--and that is Chairman Cedric Richmond 
from the Second District of Louisiana.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Louisiana (Mr. Richmond).
  Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from 
Pennsylvania for, once again, leading the Congressional Black Caucus's 
Special Order hour, where we get to address the American people and 
talk directly to the American people about what it is that is going on 
in Congress, what we would like to do.
  Tonight is a very somber but important Special Order hour. We are 
talking about protecting American lives. It would not be Black History 
Month without a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, a Morehouse 
graduate. He says: ``At some point, silence becomes betrayal.''
  I want us to just think about that: silence becomes betrayal. When it 
comes to our communities being inundated with guns, this Congress has 
been far too silent. In fact, what we do is just take moments of 
silence, one after another, whether it is Virginia Tech, moment of 
silence; Sandy Hook, moment of silence; Pulse nightclub, moment of 
silence; First Baptist Church, moment of silence; Las Vegas, moment of 
silence; Mother Emanuel, moment of silence.
  So far in 2018, we have already seen 8,200 incidents of gun violence 
in America, including 34 mass shootings. These acts of violence have 
taken more than 2,200 lives. That is 2,200 families affected by gun 
violence.
  I would just say that it is time for Congress to do something, at 
least have the debate, but we ought not become coconspirators with the 
crimes that are being committed across this country.
  I know that many people will say: Hey, you all are in Congress, you 
all deal in theory. We deal in reality. Banning assault weapons 
wouldn't have kept this kid from being able to buy an AR-15.
  Well, let me just tell you, that is not true.
  An AR-15 from the store ranges about $500 and $600. A kid could 
probably get $500 or $600, but during the days of the assault weapons 
ban, those guns, the street value became three times as much. So that 
means that $600 gun that he bought would have been $1,800. The question 
is whether he would have had access to get to that $1,800, whether good 
common sense would have prevailed before he got to $1,800, whether 
somebody would have caught on to his plan while he tried to get $1,800.

  At some point, we can't not do anything because we say it wouldn't 
have made a difference.
  The one thing I will say is it is amazing to see these young people 
rise up and speak out with one voice that they want something done.
  It is a sad day in America when our seniors can't go to church 
without fear

[[Page H1253]]

of gun violence, when families can't go to the movies because of fear 
of gun violence, and when children can't go to school because of fear 
of gun violence.
  We as a Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, have an obligation 
to this country to make sure that we protect people who are vulnerable. 
I don't think it is too much to ask for both sides to come together and 
ignore the will of the National Rifle Association, but to listen to the 
people in our country who are demanding that we do something.
  When we start talking about background checks, assault rifles, high-
capacity cartridges that go in these guns which allow people to shoot 
large amounts of people in a very short order of time, those guns--
let's just be clear, and I want Congressman Evans to understand what we 
are talking about: nobody is talking about ending the Second Amendment. 
The right to bear arms is as fundamental and as protected as anything 
else in this country. However, when we start talking about AR-15s and 
these assault weapons and these automatic things, we are talking about 
weapons of mass destruction.
  We went to Afghanistan looking for weapons of mass destruction, when 
they are right here in this country. We don't have to go to Iraq, we 
don't have to go to Afghanistan. If you are looking for weapons of mass 
destruction, they are sold in our sporting goods shops all across this 
country, and they are being used to slaughter American citizens.
  So I would just ask, in closing, that at some point, silence is 
betrayal. As for me, because of my conviction, because of my 
conscience, and because I don't lack any courage, I will not be silent.
  I would just urge this body that we can't be silent anymore as 
weapons of mass destruction destroy our communities.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, before the gentleman leaves, being that this 
is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's assassination, I would ask the 
gentleman, to the point that he raises about the moments of silence, if 
we look back and look where we are today, are we any closer to 
addressing these moments of silence, because I hear frustration in his 
voice?
  Mr. RICHMOND. I am frustrated. I come from a funeral home family, and 
I know what it is like when people have to bury loved ones, and I know 
the natural order of things, because I have had to bury my father and 
my stepfather and my grandparents, who were--my grandfather 
specifically, who stepped in for my father when he died, but that is 
the natural order of things. Although my dad died when he was 32, it 
was of natural causes.
  Parents shouldn't be burying children. Children shouldn't be victims 
and shot in school. So the frustration comes because I know the pain 
associated.
  So when we start talking about the 2,200 people who were killed, that 
is 2,200 families that had to get up and hear the preacher say: Oh, 
pain may endureth through the night, but joy cometh in the morning.
  Well, joy is not going to come in the morning if the same thing keeps 
happening and Congress will not do anything about it, because that 
means those lives were lost in vain, and that is just as big a sin, in 
my estimation. I just think that we have to do something about it.
  It is one thing when the cameras are there and the family has the 
support at the funeral of all these people, the Congressperson comes, 
family comes, and says, ``Oh, we are going to be with you, and we are 
going to support you and pray for you during this time,'' but at the 
end of the day, that mother and father goes back to that house, and 
that kid's room is empty.
  There are no words of comfort that we can give to that family when 
they walk by that room every night and it is empty because we let 
somebody with mental issues get their hands on an AR-15 and slaughter a 
bunch of kids in school. So if it sounds like I am upset, then you are 
right, because those parents shouldn't have to pass an empty room.
  Every empty room that happens, my fear is that we are complicit by 
omission of letting it happen over and over again, and I don't want 
that on my conscience.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

                              {time}  2000

  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for laying out that 
eloquent statement.
  Next is someone who is from the great State of Illinois, who, since I 
have been here, has been relentless on this issue, particularly from an 
inner-city standpoint, an urban standpoint. I have watched her over and 
over again constantly stand up and make comments, and I wonder if she 
thinks anybody is listening, but I am going to give her that 
opportunity to say a few things here this evening.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from the Second District of 
Illinois (Ms. Kelly).
  Ms. KELLY of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I thank my distinguished 
colleague, Mr. Evans, for yielding and for his leadership. I associate 
myself with the words of my colleagues who have already spoken.
  Mr. Speaker, I never tire in my call to end senseless gun violence. 
But I am emboldened this evening by the grassroots movement we have 
seen from the brave and bright students that survived the shooting at 
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which took 
the lives of 17 of their classmates and teachers. These brave students 
remind me of the determined young people I have come to know in the 
Chicago area who have been calling for change.
  Mr. Speaker, I ask my Republican colleagues: Do you remember the 
terror you felt this past summer on the baseball diamond when you were 
senselessly attacked with a rifle? Do you remember the terror you felt 
as grown men?
  Now imagine being a teenager, without the protection of trained 
Capitol Police officers at your side, being senselessly attacked with 
an AR-15.
  Imagine being raised in a world where fear of being shot at school, 
on your block, or in a park was a daily reality.
  Countless daily shootings that do not make the news certainly don't 
spur you to act. Losing 20 elementary school students didn't spur you 
to act. A colleague suffering a severe brain injury didn't spur you to 
act. You, yourselves, being the targets hasn't even spurred you to act.
  In the aftermath of Parkland, our children have made one thing 
abundantly clear: If you do not act to end this senseless violence, 
America will replace you with bold leaders who will.
  The solutions are simple: mandatory background checks on all gun 
sales, including purchases online and at gun shows, and tightening the 
background check system; closing the loopholes; removing weapons of war 
from our streets; implementing gun violence protective orders; allowing 
scientists to study this issue for what it is, a public health crisis; 
and investing in programs that provide young people with hope so they 
put down guns and pick up pens, pencils, books and job skills; when 
appropriate, access to mental health. You cut the budget to mental 
health, yet you blame mental health as the reason these things are 
happening.
  None of these proposals are new. In my first term in Congress, I 
issued the Kelly Report, studying this issue, with each of these 
recommendations. I will gladly provide every Member of this House a 
copy.
  The solutions and the choice are clear.
  Will you stand up to the NRA? Will you even read my report?
  Our children are demanding it.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask just one question to the 
gentlewoman from Illinois, who has been speaking to this issue a lot.
  Does the gentlewoman have any sense of optimism of people hearing her 
in any way? Does she see any signs?
  I mean, she just ticked off some information. What are her thoughts 
about change around here?
  Ms. KELLY of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I couldn't be in this job if I 
wasn't an optimist, believe me. I think people hear me. It is whether 
they are willing to act.
  There are bipartisan bills ready to go; bipartisan bills. Some bills 
are sponsored by Republicans, some by Democrats. They have a lot of 
cosponsors, but the leadership has to hear; the leadership has to want 
to do something. Actually, the leadership on both sides has been very, 
very silent, unfortunately. But I am hoping that the

[[Page H1254]]

pressure will continue to be put on by everybody across this United 
States.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I have someone who I have had the utmost 
respect for. He smiles. I told him he could get elected in 
Pennsylvania. He is from the great State of Mississippi. I don't want 
to shock the people of Mississippi. He is not leaving Mississippi.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from the Second Congressional 
District of Mississippi (Mr. Thompson).
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend from 
Pennsylvania for yielding. I won't be coming and running, though; but, 
nonetheless, I appreciate the kind words.
  I am going to talk in a little different direction than from most of 
the previous speakers.
  Mr. Speaker, as you know, I am a country boy. I live in the country. 
Hunting is a rite of passage for most people who live in the country.
  For the record, this past Friday, I hunted rabbit with three 
ministers, two deputy sheriffs, a county commissioner, and just a bunch 
of everyday people. But I don't need an assault weapon to hunt rabbit 
with.
  So this notion that somehow an infringement on my Second Amendment 
right to bear arms is associated with a killing weapon, a weapon that 
was designed for war, a weapon that is designed to reap carnage in 
whatever environment that it is in--for those of us who hunt deer, who 
hunt ducks, who hunt pheasants, we look at this whole discussion and 
ask: Who are these people who want 30-, 40-, 50-shot clips in a gun? 
What are they hunting?
  Those of us who are outdoorsmen, those of us who love the 
environment, we are not supportive of this notion that these kind of 
guns are made for outdoors. They are not. So it is a false premise, Mr. 
Speaker, that somehow my rights are being abridged.
  Now, as important with this is this notion that somehow we are not 
safe unless I own a gun like this. Well, the people that I hunt with, 
they have absolutely no problem applying for whatever license they are 
required to have to own their guns. They don't have a problem with 
waiting so that they can clear up whatever question it is from the 
standpoint of owning a gun.

  They really don't have a problem with saying gun shows should be 
outlawed because those are places where people sell guns, and sometimes 
there is a question about the legality of the guns they are selling.
  Background checks. You know, if I have to have a background check for 
financing of anything. Then why shouldn't I have a background check to 
own a weapon?
  A bump stock. Now, until what had occurred in Las Vegas, most of us 
had never heard of a bump stock. I mean, it was just some kind of 
exotic thing you put on a gun to make it an automatic weapon. But, 
again, all those things, to those of us who hunt, that is not who we 
are.
  I marvel at some of my colleagues who probably couldn't hit anything 
with a gun, but they want to stand up and defend people who buy assault 
weapons. I challenge them to come, get up at 4:30, 5 in the morning, 
and let's go to the woods and let's do what real hunters do. Let's not 
just get on TV and brag about my Second Amendment rights, and then put 
on a $500 suit and go on downtown and don't go to the woods.
  What we saw in Florida, it was absolutely tragic. Errors occurred. We 
need to fix it. But I dare to say--and I absolutely hope I am wrong--
when the comments subside, I doubt that we will have any legislation 
brought forward to address this assault weapon problem we have in this 
country. I doubt that we will have any legislation brought forward to 
look at the loopholes associated with purchasing guns. I doubt that we 
will have the age limit raised on individuals purchasing guns. The will 
is not here. I wish my colleagues could man up, or woman up, and do the 
right thing.
  I am training my grandson, who is 12 years old, the right way to own 
a gun, to handle a gun, to do the things that are correct. He will have 
to go through gun safety classes before he gets his license. But more 
importantly is he understands that this weapon is either for sport or 
protection. But, you know, I don't need an AR-15. I have deer rifles. I 
have shotguns. That is what sportsmen use.
  So all this killing that is going on is bad, and I really wish we 
would take the emotions out and say, let's just get rid of these high-
powered weapons that are killing machines.
  I could go on and on, but I won't. But I can just say that it is a 
problem, and I don't think the will is here in this body to address it. 
Every time a tragedy occurs, we take a moment of silence and we do 
nothing.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the gentleman, since I 
have never seen this thing called an AR-15, can he describe what this 
gun looks like?
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. This AR-15?
  Mr. EVANS. Yes.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Well, it is a weapon designed to kill. 
It is a weapon designed for war.
  My friends who are in law enforcement, I want them to have weapons 
like that to defend themselves here; but we have made these guns 
street-legal, so there is the potential that our friends in law 
enforcement are going to run up on people who have guns as powerful, if 
not more powerful than they are.
  That gun is not made for hunting. It is not made for anything other 
than to kill. I want my soldiers who are fighting wars to have weapons 
like that.
  But, again, for us to try to stretch the margin, that that is a 
Second Amendment right to bear arms, it is not any arm. Again, it is a 
killing machine. And if anybody has ever had an opportunity to fire 
one, which I have, it is not accurate at all; but it will spray a lot 
of bullets out and will do some killing, like we just saw in Florida 
and a lot of other places.
  It is not who we are as a nation. We are a better people than that. 
But adults are going to have to do the right thing. Otherwise, the 
young people of this country will do it for us.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thought the gentleman gave a really clear 
sense of what the challenge is and what we face today.
  Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Pennsylvania has 22 
minutes remaining.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, coming behind the gentleman from Mississippi, 
we have someone who knows a little bit about weaponry. She herself has 
a background. She was the police chief in Orlando. And since she and I 
are in the same class, I have learned a lot from her.

                              {time}  2015

  And coming behind the gentleman from Mississippi, who laid some 
things out here, is someone who has run a police department, and she 
couldn't be a better person for us to have come. I yield to the 
gentlewoman from the State of Florida (Mrs. Demings), from the 10th 
District.
  Mrs. DEMINGS. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from 
Pennsylvania for yielding to me.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise today to talk about an all-too-familiar topic, 
and that is gun violence in America, mass shootings in the United 
States of America.
  A few days ago, I purchased a card of sympathy for the family of a 
young man who died way too soon. The card that I finally chose read: 
``I hardly know what to say.''
  When I think about yet another mass shooting in a country where, 
through ingenuity and determination, we have solved some of the world's 
toughest problems and challenges but yet we have chosen to do nothing 
about mass shootings, I hardly know what to say.
  Mr. Speaker, you know last week a man used a semiautomatic rifle to 
brutally murder 17 children and educators in Parkland, Florida. Unlike 
past shootings, we have not just moved on. This is because of the 
survivors--not our generation doing something, but the children. It is 
because of them.
  You see, this generation believes that they can change the world. I 
mean, isn't that exactly what we as parents taught them, that they can 
change the world? They believe in what President Obama called the 
audacity of hope. Not our generation, but the generation of our 
children and grandchildren.
  And they have stood up to declare what should be obvious to all of 
us: that every American should have the right to go to school, to go to 
church,

[[Page H1255]]

to go to a mall, to go to a movie theater or a nightclub without being 
brutally murdered by someone with a gun, no less an assault rifle, 
which greatly diminishes their chances of survival.
  Sure, high school is tough for some children, but the worst our 
children should have to fear is whether they can make a friend in a new 
school or whether they will make the track team or whether the boy or 
girl they like will notice them in the hallway or in class.
  150,000 American children have experienced a school shooting. That is 
not something a great society tolerates. That is something we change.
  Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the strength, the courage, and the passion 
of these young people in Florida. Not our generation, but the 
teenagers. And I am also proud of previous survivors and activists who 
laid the groundwork for the movement that is growing across America.
  Survivors of the Pulse nightclub shooting have joined Parkland 
survivors to work for change. That shooting, which took place in my 
congressional district, was the second worst mass shooting in U.S. 
history, after Las Vegas.
  That is not the only mass shooting to torment Florida. In 2017, a man 
shot and killed five people at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. In 2013, a 
man shot and killed six people at an apartment complex in Miami-Dade 
County. In 1990, a man shot and killed nine people in Jacksonville. 
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been at least 113 
mass shootings, defined as four or more persons injured or killed, in 
Florida since 2013.
  Instead of simply waiting and responding to mass shootings, we should 
work to prevent them. We should work to prevent them. We should work to 
prevent them.
  As Orlando, Florida's, former chief of police, my goal was to not 
merely save lives of those who experienced violence, but we tried to 
stop the violence from occurring in the first place. When we know 
better, we are supposed to do better.
  Some proposals may need more debate, some less, but let us have that 
debate.
  As a former law enforcement officer, our job was to enforce the laws 
and to protect the innocent. As a Member of Congress, our job is to 
create laws that protect the innocent. Well, Congress is failing at 
that job.
  The best gift, Mr. Speaker, we can give to our teachers and our 
students and to every American is to pass legislation that keeps deadly 
guns out of the hands of bad people. Thoughts and prayers are good. God 
will order our steps, but we have to move our feet.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague from Florida 
a question, since she talked about her law enforcement background. And 
she is correct, Congress is to make laws.
  This Presidential administration talks about being law and order. Is 
he really law and order and on the side of the police if this is 
happening and running amok? I mean, if you were police chief and you 
had that responsibility of protecting people--and we in Congress, as 
was stated by the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, the 
moments of silence. If you were on the front line again, you were out 
there, and you still know a lot of the people who are part of the 
police departments, how do you think the police departments feel when 
they are outgunned and the challenges that they have? Can you talk a 
little bit about that?
  Mrs. DEMINGS. Mr. Speaker, one of my biggest fears as a 27-year law 
enforcement officer was that my officers, the officers who worked for 
me, the officers who swore that they would protect and serve, would 
find themselves in an active shooter situation where they would be 
outgunned.
  As I indicated earlier, the AR-15 and other weapons like it, if you 
are shot with one, your chances of survival are greatly diminished. As 
my colleague from Mississippi indicated earlier, the weapon is designed 
to create mass devastation. It was designed for the battlefield.
  And you are right; on the battlefield, we want our soldiers to take 
the enemy down as quickly as possible. But those weapons were not 
designed for our streets, for our neighborhoods where our children 
play, for our schools. If we are a great society, if we want to be the 
great Nation that we always talk about, then let's do what is within 
our power as one of the most powerful bodies in the world.

  My 5-year-old granddaughter's kindergarten class had a moment of 
silence. I believe, as Members of Congress, we can do better than that.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from Florida.
  Mr. Speaker, I have someone who, when I came here, I said I have to 
meet her. She is a very dynamic person. She is the Honorable Barbara 
Lee from the 13th Congressional District of California, and I yield to 
the gentlewoman.
  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.

[[Page H1256]]

  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.

                              {time}  2030

  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.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I think showing those pictures, if anything, 
should get our point across. I hope that those pictures will send a 
message to all of us.
  Closing out tonight--and I think all our colleagues really just 
summed up this gun violence issue--is someone who, again, I have known 
well and admired, the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee from the 18th 
District of Texas.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson Lee).
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, let me thank the distinguished 
gentleman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for his leadership. I am 
delighted to join the Congressional Black Caucus this evening under the 
leadership of Chairman Richmond.
  As my colleagues have said, we have been, sadly, a leader on 
commonsense gun safety legislation, sadly, because many of our 
districts, although we represent the huge numbers of diverse 
Americans--our districts represent Anglos, African Americans, 
Hispanics, and Asians, and all economic backgrounds, all wealth 
backgrounds, all backgrounds dealing with religion--we are able to 
speak because many of our districts have the reality of gun violence.
  So I want to speak, Mr. Speaker, to a particular point that I have 
heard from the stander-uppers of the NRA, particularly the president 
and CEO when he spoke to the conservative organization just this past 
week. I was certainly shocked to hear accusations about Democrats are 
socialists, even to the extent of calling out Members' names, which I 
think patently rejects the comity and collegiality of recognizing 
democracy accepts two distinct parties and some other parties and 
respects differences of opinion.
  But let me be very clear on the record. No one Member of this body, 
nor the distinguished gentleman, can eliminate the Second Amendment. No 
group of 20 Members of Congress, no Republicans of Congress and no 
Democrats of Congress, can eliminate the Second Amendment.
  The Second Amendment is a constitutional amendment, and there is a 
decided practice of a percentage of Members of Congress and the 
percentage of Members of 50 States. With that in mind, let us clear the 
air. But if we want to know the truth, what is being fought is gun 
safety legislation, not gun eradication.
  In my State, you cannot rent a car if you are not 21. The Federal law 
says that you cannot buy a gun if you are not 21. I will be introducing 
legislation to raise the age of 21. I already have legislation, a 7-day 
waiting period banning bump stocks, and, of course, dealing with 
automatic weapons. I know we are introducing one now.
  There are a multitude of introductions of bills and a multitude of 
decisions being made by the Florida delegation which we should listen 
to. I hope they will come forward in a bipartisan way.
  But let me talk about the children and parents. I was on the air 
today talking--or hearing that parents are hovering and scared of 
sending their children to school, and the children are scared. This 
last week I went into my schools where children were not only talking 
about not arming teachers, but the gunfire in their neighborhoods by 
handguns, or those who were in schools dealing with children who had 
steered in the wrong direction. Those children were talking about you 
got to pack. Gun culture doesn't realize what we are turning our 
children into that they have got to pack.
  So from Las Vegas to Orlando, to Virginia, to Sandy Hook, to San 
Bernardino, to now Douglas High School, the question is: When are we 
going to act?
  An average of 1,297 children die annually from a gun-related injury. 
A majority of Americans now support gun policy proposals, such as 
barring people with mental illness from buying guns. But let me make it 
very clear. I don't label people who suffer from mental health issues. 
What I say is: Let us provide the resources for those individuals and 
clearly between mistakes of reporting what this young man had 
indicated, to mistakes on the local and Federal level, to mistakes on 
his mental health situation. We all can stand in blame. But they are 
adults.
  What the response has been from our good friends who are the gun 
advocates, so they say, has been to close their eyes, close their ears, 
and not sit down at the table of reconciliation. The gun manufacturers 
cannot continue to dominate the discussion of sensible gun legislation, 
from Gabby Giffords to the tragedies that I have listed, to children 
who are saying: I hover in my room, my bedroom, listening to gunfire in 
my neighborhood because the proliferation of guns is so extensive.
  So guns are being trafficked illegally because of the gun culture. 
There are many elements that will go into this. The Congressional Black 
Caucus has been at the forefront of changing that gun culture, as 
Congresswoman Kelly has preached about, because of what happened in 
Chicago. I join her because what happens in our neighborhood is that 
our children are cowering over gun violence, period.
  No, arming our teachers is not the answer. Securing our school is; 
banning those weapons of war is; extending the timeframe is; lifting 
the age is; and getting the background checks to close the loopholes 
is.
  So I am asking this floor and this leadership, as we are doing good 
legislation on human trafficking, of which I will participate in 
tomorrow, that we put on the floor legislation of gun safety.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for his 
leadership tonight.
  Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, there are no words 
in the English language to fully capture the pain and suffering that a 
parent will endure in the face of losing a child. Imagine then the 
immense pain that the families of the 17 Americans who were murdered 
during a mass shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, 
Florida must be experiencing at this moment. Even worse, imagine how 
they must feel as our nation remains crippled by inaction in the wake 
of the senseless gun violence that continues to tear apart countless 
families and communities throughout our country. That is our reality 
today as Congress fails to act, once again, on commonsense legislation 
to reduce gun violence.
  We cannot allow the violence that we have witnessed at the Stoneman 
Douglas High School to become our new norm. More importantly, we cannot 
allow our inaction in the face of such tragic violence to also define 
what we can and cannot accept as a society. We are all too familiar 
with gun violence in the United States. There have already been over 
8,200 incidents of gun violence in 2018 alone. This violence has 
claimed the lives of 2,200 individuals, upending the lives of countless 
friends and families who are impacted by these deaths. I am here to 
join my colleagues and countless Americans across our nation by 
declaring in one voice, ``Enough is enough.''
  Our children deserve the right to an education without a cloud of 
fear in their hearts

[[Page H1257]]

and the sound of gunshots ringing in their ears. The people of the 
United States deserve representation that works in the face of 
senseless violence to deliver real solutions that work for millions of 
Americans. We need solutions that include stronger background checks, 
while also providing the resources for states to contribute complete 
and timely records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check 
System (NICS). We need solutions that reduce the proliferation of 
assault weapons on our streets, including high-capacity magazines, 
flash suppressors, and other accessories that enhance the lethality of 
firearms. More importantly, we need everyone to come to the table in a 
meaningful way that is not driven by fear or emotion so that we can 
deliver on the promises that we made when we took the oath of office.
  Mr. Speaker, I am calling for action. I am calling for action that is 
already long overdue, and I call for others to find the compassion in 
their hearts to also get this done. I call for the courage to make the 
difficult choices that we finally need to make. Our failure to act now 
is a failure of our leaders to do what is right, notwithstanding 
political affiliation or preference. I am calling for action and I am 
calling for action now. Enough is enough.

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