GUN CONTROL; Congressional Record Vol. 160, No. 66
(Senate - May 05, 2014)

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[Pages S2634-S2635]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              GUN CONTROL

  Mr. MURPHY. Madam President, Dinyal New was sitting in her church in 
Oakland, CA, and she was asked a question which she repeated back 
knowing there was no way to answer it. She said: What is it like to 
bury both of my kids?
  Ms. New lost her two sons in episodes of gun violence not more than 3 
weeks apart in January of this year.
  Her youngest son was an eighth grader. He was walking down the street 
one day. The description says that surveillance cameras actually show 
him almost skipping down the street. He was walking home from the bus 
stop. He usually called his mom to pick him up, but his cell phone 
battery had died that day. On the video we can see a gunman approach 
carrying a semi-automatic rifle and shoot little Lee, an eighth grader, 
28 times.
  He wasn't in a gang. Frankly, it shouldn't matter whether he was in a 
gang, but he wasn't in a gang. He loved to play drums. His neighbors 
said he was a great kid. He stayed home a lot playing video games or he 
hung out often at the Boys and Girls Club while his single mom worked 
as a social worker. Nobody knows why Lee was targeted.
  After Lee died, his mom begged his older brother Lamar to leave town, 
that it was just too dangerous. Not knowing exactly what went on, she 
didn't want Lamar to get caught in the crossfire. Lamar had had a 
little more difficult life, but he had straightened out his life after 
some occasional run-ins with the law. He was taking classes at a local 
community college, and he had dreams of becoming a musician or starting 
his own business, but 3 days after his little brother's funeral, on 
January 19 his mom asked Lamar to run an errand for him. So being a 
dutiful son, just days after the family was grieving at his brother's 
funeral, he went 2 blocks from home to do an errand. He was in his car 
and a suspect got up on top of the car and started shooting into it, 
killing Lamar. Within 3 weeks she had gone from having two sons to 
having no sons. Those two homicides are among the 31,672 that happen 
annually through gunfire and gun violence all across the Nation, part 
of 2,639 gun deaths every month, part of the 86 a day that happen all 
across the country. My State is no exception. In March of this year on 
the same night, March 24, two half-brothers were shot, leaving one dead 
and the other in the hospital. The surviving brother was a student at 
Hamden High School and the principal there talked about the fact that 
this is now the eighth shooting victim at Hamden High School in the 
principal's short tenure there. Hamden is not a town that is known in 
Connecticut for high rates of violence, but in just that one high 
school alone this one principal has seen eight shooting victims.

  They had the funeral which was attended by hundreds for Taijhon. 
Taijhon was a great kid. All kids have troubles, but Taijhon was trying 
to get his life straight. He had just enrolled in the New Haven Job 
Corps Program. Anyone who knows about Job Corps program knows it is an 
avenue to get kids' lives turned around, gives them real skills that 
they can go out and succeed. Taijhon was enthusiastic about having 
started this Job Corps Program, but now we will have no idea what 
Taijhon's life was going to be like because he is not with us any 
longer, and his half-brother--who was initially in critical condition--
his life will be changed forever.
  The funeral for Taijhon was especially poignant because for the 
family this was just the latest tragedy. Two of Taijhon's cousins, 
Dallas and TJ, were also shot to death in New Haven. So in cities such 
as New Haven and Oakland, the misery is cascading because it is not 
just one death with family members of that immediate family affected, 
it is multiple brothers, it is brothers and cousins, it is entire 
families being targeted and sometimes wiped out by this epidemic of gun 
violence--an epidemic of gun violence that this body refuses to do 
anything about.
  As you know, I try to come down to the floor every week, if I can, to 
give some voices to the victims of gun violence, because if these 
statistics will not move this place to action, maybe the stories of 
those young men and women--but mainly young men who are dying all 
across this country due to gun violence--maybe it is their stories that 
will move us to take some action. I know we couldn't get the 60 votes 
required to pass an expansion of background checks in this Senate, but 
maybe there is something else we can do.
  Maybe we can lend more mental health resources to these cities that 
are struggling to keep up with these high rates of gun violence. Maybe 
we can fix the existing background check system to ensure that the 
right records get loaded in and there is actual enforcement of gun 
dealers who aren't actually asking their customers to go through 
background checks. Maybe there is something we can do on a bipartisan 
basis, but the reality is a lot of States are moving in the opposite 
  Recently there was a lot of attention on a piece of legislation that 
passed in Georgia. This bill was dubbed the most extreme gun bill in 
America. It allowed people to carry weapons in bars, in government 
buildings, in places of worship, in school safety zones, at school 
functions, on school-provided transportation, all apparently under the 
theory that if we make enough guns available out in the public to both 
good guys and bad guys, hopefully, through a process of gun control 
Darwinism, the good guys will eventually shoot the bad guys.
  The problem is that is not how it works. All of the data and evidence 
tells us that exactly the opposite occurs when you flood a community 
with guns and that more people die, not less. We don't know all of the 
reasons why a 19-year-old FedEx package handler walked into a facility 
in Kennesaw, GA, and injured six people before killing himself, but 
what we do know is that town has a law on the books that requires every 
single head of household to own a firearm. Kennesaw, GA, has a law on 
the books requiring every head of household to own a firearm. That 
didn't stop the episode of mass violence from happening inside of that 
FedEx facility. More guns does not equal safer communities in the end.
  In my community of Newtown, Adam Lanza's mother had guns in the house 
because she thought it would help protect herself and her son who lived 
alone in the house. In the end it didn't help. It got her killed and it 
got 20 people killed as well.
  Think about what it would be like to be a 7-year-old girl waking in 
the middle of the night, with your 2- and 4- and 5-year-old siblings 
still sleeping in the house, and walking into the living room and 
finding your mother and father dead. That is what happened just about 2 
weeks ago in Memphis, TN, when a 7-year-old girl awoke to find that 
both of her parents had been shot and killed in the living room. Three 
other kids were home at the time. The 7-year-old then called the police 
who responded and identified the victims.
  James Alexander, her father, was described as a landscaper and a 
great father. Her mother was described as athletic and very protective 
of her children. Her parents were junior high school sweethearts and 
they had just married in February. One hundred people packed the corner 
Friday evening

[[Page S2635]]

in front of James and Danielle Alexander's home to remember the couple 
1 day after they were murdered.
  A friend of the deceased said: ``It still doesn't feel real, I still 
feel like they are just sitting in their house.''
  Another family friend said:

       I don't wish this on my worst enemy, but it has happened. 
     Now we have to look out for the kids.

  That is the reality: parents gone in an instant, a brother and half 
brother in 1 night in New Haven, CT, two sons of a mother in Oakland 
dying because of gunfire within 19 days. These are the voices of the 
victims we are losing all across this country.
  Maybe we don't have the votes to put together the big package that 
will provide some comprehensive approach to gun violence, but maybe 
between now and the end of the year we can show these families, we can 
show these communities that we can at least move forward a couple 
inches, a couple feet, to send a message that silence will no longer be 
interpreted in these communities as complicity.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator's time is up.
  Mr. MURPHY. I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Iowa.
  Mr. GRASSLEY. I thank the Chair.