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Feinstein Calls for Gun Safety Legislation

Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today delivered remarks on gun safety at a hearing on the tragic mass shooting in Parkland, Fla.

             High-resolution video of Feinstein’s remarks is available here until March 29, and low-resolution video is available here.

             Feinstein’s remarks follow:

             “This hearing comes on the one-month anniversary of the heinous attack at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, by a 19 year old who legally purchased the weapon used.

             Fourteen high school students and three faculty members were shot to death that day and today, their memory is being honored by students and parents across the country who are marching and reflecting during a 17-minute moment of silence.

             I want to begin by giving my deepest, and sincerest, condolences to each of their families and all of their loved ones, and to my two colleagues who will be speaking shortly, Senators Nelson and Rubio. I just had the opportunity, along with the chairman, to meet Mr. Ryan Petty and his son, and all I could do is give them a big hug. It’s a terrible thing about this. All you can do is give a victim a big hug.

             Just this past Saturday, in my home state of California, the nation woke up to heartbreaking news of a gunman who took hostages in a military veteran’s home.

             The gunman brutally gunned down three victims—Christine Loeber, Jennifer Golick, and Jennifer Gonzales—each of whom worked at the veterans’ home. Jennifer [Gonzales] was pregnant with her first child.

             Their lives were abruptly ended, and their families’ grief is devastating.

             These events, ladies and gentlemen, have become too commonplace as gun violence in this country gets worse and worse and guns and assault weapons continue to flood our streets by the millions

             When I first joined the Senate in 1992, following a mass shooting at a law firm located at 101 California Street in San Francisco we worked to pass the assault weapons ban. This ban was law for 10 years.

             As this chart shows, when the legislation was enacted in 1994, it worked.

             Compared to the decade before the ban was enacted, the number of gun massacres fell by 37 percent, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43 percent.

             Now here’s the thing. In the decade that followed the expiration of the ban in 2004, things got measurably worse. Gun massacres increased by 183 percent, and there was a 239 percent increase in deaths from those massacres. This is stunning. 

             The fact is, since the ban expired, we have seen more and more children, families, and communities victimized by mass shootings from military-style assault weapons. And I can go on and on with numbers.

             Let’s just go to Sandy Hook. I thought, who could take a gun, a powerful military weapon converted for civilian use and go into a school of six and seven year olds and just kill 20 of them and six staff outright. But ladies and gentlemen, it happened and it’s just happening. 

             Since Sandy Hook, there have been 239 school shootings nationwide, with 438 people shot, and 138 people killed. This averages out to five school shootings per month. This is outrageous in the United States of America.

             Apart from school shootings, since Sandy Hook, approximately 7,000 children have been killed by gun violence. Just yesterday, we all received a sobering reminder of this figure, when 7,000 pairs of donated shoes were neatly laid across the Capitol lawn to represent the children lost since Sandy Hook. I regret it didn’t get much press, but those shoes were there and those deaths happened.

             This Congress cannot continue to do nothing because nothing means more lives are lost, including the youngest and the most vulnerable among us. 

             We must act. We cannot continue to sit in this room and other rooms week after week and simply do nothing. High school students who have lost their friends are literally begging us to take action to get these guns off the streets and out of our schools.

             There are options. We can talk about getting better background checks, limiting purchases of magazines, banning bump stocks, raising the age of who can buy a semi-automatic rifle, and provide a legal process for securing a restraining order when someone has a mental illness.

             I would very much like to see an assault weapons ban. We have rewritten one. We think it makes sense. It has been introduced, but I’m the first one to recognize the NRA’s power in these United States of America.

             Ladies and gentlemen, the statistics are reaching the point of killings that do not justify millions of these weapons floating over our streets and being used in our schools of this country. I hope this committee will take some consequential action.”