Congresswoman Kelly Calls Out Congress for Failing to Act on Gun Violence Legislation
Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02) today spoke on the House floor to take her Congressional colleagues to task for failing to pass common sense gun legislation in the wake of the Oregon mass shooting and the wave of gun violence that has gripped the nation this year.
Kelly has been a staunch advocate for gun violence prevention since joining Congress in 2013. Last year, she released the 2014 Kelly Report on Gun Violence, the first ever Congressional analysis of the nation’s gun violence epidemic. She recently introduced H.R. 224, The Recognizing Gun Violence as a Public Health Emergency Act, which would require the U.S. Surgeon General to submit to Congress an annual report on the effects of gun violence on the public’s health. A growing body of research suggests that gun violence is a public health epidemic and that repeated exposure to shootings in urban areas such as Chicago causes trauma that is akin to the trauma suffered by soldiers in war zones. This legislation would examine gun violence in America as a public health threat, investigating the physical, emotional, societal and economic impact of the epidemic.
Kelly’s floor speech can be viewed here. The full text is below.
I’m tired of once again rising to honor the victims of gun violence.
Not even a month ago, I stood at this very podium on behalf of gun violence victims.
But with nearly 300 mass shootings in less than 300 days, this Congress has proven that there is no appetite to end gun violence.
I’m tired because we will have more “moments of silence” in honor of gun victims than we will have “moments of action” from leaders working to STOP gun violence.
To my colleagues who came here on a platform of caring about children…
To my colleagues who came here for peace….
To my friends on the left and the right of the aisle… can’t we own up to our responsibility to stop this violence?
Can’t we own the fact that we are losing a generation of Americans to gun violence?
Every year, over 100,000 people are shot in America —more than 30,000 of them fatally.
This is a crisis that demands more than - a moment - of silence from Congress.
With every mass shooting, we hear every excuse in the book for inaction.
“It’s a family problem.”
“It’s a mental health issue.”
“It’s a people problem.”
Apparently, it’s everything BUT a gun problem!
At this point, even our excuses are tired.
Let me share some headlines from my hometown this week.
From Sundays, Chicago Tribune - “Man killed, 4 injured in shootings”
Monday, CBS Chicago -“1 Dead, 11 Wounded In Weekend Shootings Across Chicago”
Tuesday, Chicago Sun-Times “Man and woman shot near Douglas Park on West Side.
Wednesday, Chicago Tribune “1 dead, 8 wounded in shootings in Chicago”
But these aren’t just headlines. They are deferred dreams and altered realities for countless families.
This isn’t a Chicago problem… or a Newtown or Oregon problem…. It’s an American problem.
Today, gun deaths are on pace to be the leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-24.
Not because our kids are leaving the Homefront for war…
But because the Homefront is becoming a warzone.
It’s because military style weapons are flooding our streets.
It’s because Hadiya was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It’s because Reverend Pinckney held Wednesday Bible study.
And a journalist and cameraman in Virginia woke up and did their job….
It’s because a couple of teens wanted to see an Amy Schumer movie.
We’ve had NO votes on legislation to stop this.
And Mr. Speaker….for all the talk about needing to improve our mental health system, we’ve yet to take a single vote on a comprehensive mental health bill.
I have multiple bills that would reduce gun violence, but the simplest one– H.R. 224 – would require the Surgeon General to submit to Congress a report on the public health impact of gun violence.
After all, we can’t have a conversation about gun violence without data on:
- The death and disability it causes
- Its mental health effects
- Its community impact and its economic costs.
But Mr. Speaker, this Congress has no appetite for conversations about gun violence.
After all, there are “A Ratings” to protect!
The American People are tired… tired of their representatives paying lip service to tragedies they were elected to help prevent.
They are tired of their peace of mind being held hostage by those we should be preventing from ever getting their hands on a gun in the first place.
I’m calling everyone here out today.
You’ve talked the talk. It’s time to walk the walk.
You say that you want to save lives. Then do it.
Where is the background check legislation that 90% of Americans support?
Bring my bill H.R. 224 up for a vote and let the Surgeon General see if gun violence is a threat to public health.
Show that you care.