(Senate - February 14, 2013)

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[Pages S757-S758]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                            THE TIME IS NOW

  Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, as President Obama reminded us in his State 
of the Union Address this week, 2 months have passed since the 
heartbreaking school shooting in Newtown, CT. Since then, we have 
mourned the loss of the 20 wonderful children and 6 extraordinary 
adults who were murdered that day. Their lives were taken by a mentally 
deranged individual who easily obtained a semi-automatic military-style 
assault rifle with a high capacity ammunition magazine.
  It has been estimated that there are currently 18 million assault 
weapons in circulation around the United States. If no action is taken, 
this number will continue to grow. Across our Nation, any dangerous 
individual can walk into a gun show and walk out with the same type of 
weapon that the perpetrator in Newtown used to murder so many innocent 
people. These weapons, along with high-capacity ammunition magazines, 
can easily escalate confrontation into murder, petty crime into 
tragedy, and a killing of one or two people into a massive slaughter.
  The weight of evidence shows that since Congress allowed the Federal 
assault weapons ban to expire in 2004, the use of military style 
assault weapons in crime has surged around our Nation. For example, a 
2010 study conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum found that 
since the ban lapsed, 37 percent of police agencies have reported 
increases in criminals' use of assault

[[Page S758]]

weapons. A separate Washington Post analysis revealed that the ban was 
associated with a 60 percent decline in the number of guns with high-
capacity magazines recovered at Virginia crime scenes between 1998 and 
2004. But since the ban expired in 2004, the number of guns recovered 
with high-capacity magazines has more than doubled. A Department of 
Justice study of several cities found that high-capacity magazines are 
used in 14 to 26 percent of gun crimes and in 31 to 41 percent of fatal 
police shootings in the cities analyzed.
  It is long past time to take concrete action to support our law 
enforcement communities and to prevent more of these massacres. That is 
why I am a cosponsor of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013. By preventing 
the future possession, manufacture, sale and importation of assault 
type weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, this bill would 
stop the flood of these weapons of war into our communities. It would 
support law enforcement officers across our Nation, who should not be 
forced to confront lawbreakers armed with military weapons. And it 
would protect the rights of hunters by specifically naming thousands of 
firearms with legitimate sporting, sentimental or other value that 
would remain legal to possess.
  Mr. President, we must face reality. We live in a nation trapped in 
an epidemic of gun violence. Where a day at the mall or a trip to the 
movies can become a nightmare. Where parents send their children to 
school and have to worry about whether they will come home.
  Is this the Nation we want, or the Nation we want to leave to our 
children? We must not wait for the next madman to easily and legally 
purchase a military-style assault weapon and a high capacity magazine. 
I urge my colleagues to protect the American people by enacting 
measures to stem the tide of gun tragedies. It is long past time for 
this kind of violence to end.