WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) delivered remarks today at a press event with House Democrats, gun violence survivors, and advocates calling on Senate Republicans to take up and pass H.R. 8. Below is a transcript of his remarks:
“Good morning, my name is Steny Hoyer. I am the Majority Leader for the House of Representatives... We have been out of Congress for just a few days on summer recess. During that period of time, we have confronted great tragedy. Sadly, continuing tragedy.
“How many Americans will lose their lives or their loved ones to rampant gun violence before the United States Senate takes action?
“So far this year, more than 9,000 Americans – that’s in seven months – have been killed by gun violence, including those killed in more than 250 mass shootings. This year. In America.
“The attacks in El Paso, Texas; in Dayton, Ohio; and in Gilroy, California and the violence in Chicago – all within about seven days of one another – more than… 50 Americans lost their lives to gun violence.
“Some five months ago, on February 27, 2019, the House of Representatives passed a bill – H.R. 8. A bill that is supported by over 95 percent of Americans passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the United States Senate, where, sadly, it languishes.
“Is it the solution to all this violence? It is not. But 95 percent of Americans support it because they believe it is a significant and important step to take in the face of this violence.
“The House has acted, and it is past time for the [Senate] to act.
“We had a sit-in… on June 22, 2016. Since that time, we believe there are in the neighborhood of some 25,000 plus lives that have been lost.
“I am not going to introduce a young woman whose school was subjected to gun violence. And as a result, a young student, her friend, lost her life – Jaelynn Willey, who died on March 20, 2018.
“Jaxon O’Mara, one of her classmates, was one of those who thought silence and inaction was not enough.”
“The statistics are stark. The statistics are a daily occurring. You said summon the courage. I’ve been in politics for a long time. It takes no courage to put on the Senate Floor a bill that is supported by 90-plus percent of Americans.
“What takes courage, is to look a special interest group in the eye and say ‘enough is enough!’
“It is time to act.
“One of the great poets of our time, Bob Dylan, wrote a poem. It was called, ‘Blowing in the Wind,’ sung by Peter, Paul, and Mary, who sang on that March on Washington in 1963. I want to read you six lines of that poem: ‘How many times must the cannon balls fly, before they're forever banned? How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesn't see? How many deaths will it take 'til he knows, that too many people have died?’
“‘The song says: ‘The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.’
“But let me say, the answer, my fellow citizens, is in the House of Representatives, and we have acted.
“The answer, my fellow citizens, is in the United States Senate, and the courage to summon up, Senator McConnell, the willingness to put one small answer on the Floor.
“As been observed, more needs to be done, but this is a start – a consensus start. A start that the overwhelming majority of Americans support.
“In just a few minutes, the United States Senate will have what we call a ‘pro forma’ session. That is not a session to act.
“The time is not to simply have silence. The time is not simply for reflection. The time is not for a moment of silence. The time for the Senate is to act. The time for the Senate and… the White House is to act.
“The time is to listen to the American people – I rode home from Israel on a place late Sunday night to Monday. The pilot of that plane came back to my seat and said, ‘you know, I don’t know much about politics, I don’t get very involved in politics,’ he said, ‘but something needs to be done.’
“Action needs to be taken for the children of which that [Congresswoman] Debbie Dingell spoke of, for that mom, and for that sister who lost their lives.
“The time, Senator McConnell, is to act. Bring H.R. 8 to the Floor now. The overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens believe that is a step to make their children, their husbands, their wives, their sister, their brothers, their neighbors, their fellow Americans a little safer.
“That is why we’ve come here today, and that’s what we will be demanding tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
“The House Judiciary Committee will be coming back, and they’re going to address this issue. They have acted, we have acted, and we have passed a bill of which Americans believe is one part of the answer.
“We are here to urge Senator McConnell to bring that bill to the Floor. I urge every Senator to listen to those 95 percent of Americans who say everyone ought to be checked – no loopholes.
“Let’s catch every terrorist who wants to buy a gun. Let’s catch every criminal who wants to buy a gun. Let’s catch everybody who has had a mental health problem who wants to buy a gun. No loopholes. Everyone.
“Why? Because that makes commonsense. That’s what H.R. 8 is, and the American people know it is commonsense. Thank you very much for being here.”