GUN VIOLENCE; Congressional Record Vol. 164, No. 83
(House of Representatives - May 21, 2018)

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                              GUN VIOLENCE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of 
January 3, 2017, the gentlewoman from New York (Ms. Clarke) is 
recognized for 60 minutes as the designee of the minority leader.

                             General Leave

  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and 
include any extraneous material on the subject of this Special Order.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, it is with great honor that I 
rise today to anchor the Congressional Black Caucus Special Order hour.
  I would like to thank the Congressional Black Caucus chairman, Cedric 
Richmond, for his leadership in this effort.
  For the next 60 minutes, we have an opportunity to speak directly to 
the American people about issues of great importance to the 
Congressional Black Caucus and the millions of constituents whom we 
  Tonight's Special Order hour topic is gun violence and gun violence 
  Mr. Speaker, how many more lives?
  Mr. Speaker, there are 13,000 gun homicides a year in the United 
States. On an average day, 96 Americans are killed by guns.
  Sadly, our children are not untouched by this senseless violence. On 
an average day, seven children and teens are killed with guns, and 
since 2013, there have been 311 school shootings.
  Kyle McLeod;
  Angelique Ramirez;
  Chris Stone;
  Jared Black;
  Kimberly Vaughan;
  Sabika Sheikh;
  Cynthia Tisdale;
  Glenda Ann Perkins;
  Shana Fisher;
  Christian Garcia.
  On Friday, eight children and two of their teachers were slaughtered 
during the early morning hours of the schoolday, and those were their 
  Many students thought it was a drill when a fellow student wearing a 
``Born to Kill'' shirt opened fire at his school. Throughout the 
weekend, witnesses and survivors recounted the sheer terror of the 
shooting and its frenzied aftermath.
  This is unacceptable, Mr. Speaker. Enough is enough. We know that 
there are ways to reduce gun violence in our communities and in our 
schools. There are solutions.
  Today, the movement is being led by young people from around our 
country, including the Ninth Congressional District of New York that I 
am honored to represent. In April, I met with students from March for 
Our Lives NYC.
  In my hands are the postcards. I have nearly 100 letters from my 
constituents calling for us to take up some of these solutions. My 
constituents are calling on me, their Representative in this esteemed 
body, and upon all of us to do something now.
  One student wrote:

       We shouldn't have to be marching for this. Children are 
     dead, lots of them. Do something. Anything.

  ``Please help,'' wrote another.
  Mr. Speaker, that meeting was nearly 2 months ago, and this President 
and this Congress have done absolutely nothing.
  Since the Parkland shooting, countless numbers of children have died 
in their schools and in their communities because of our inaction. Our 
inaction puts our children in danger.
  One student wrote:

       It is time to serve the American people and not the gun 

  One teacher stressed the need to protect kids and staff. Another 

       Schools and teachers need more funding for books, salaries, 
     social support programs, and counseling, not more guns.

  One letter came from someone who had actually been shot:

       One in three people in the U.S. knows someone who has been 
     shot, and I am one of them.

  Mr. Speaker, I, too, am a survivor of gun violence. While serving in 
the New York City Council during the year 2003, all colleagues were 
coming back from a recess period, and we were excited to see one 
another. One of my dearest and closest colleagues, the Honorable James 
E. Davis, came to work that day as we all did, excited about doing the 
work for the people of the City of New York.
  Unfortunately, James E. Davis had befriended his assailant. His 
assailant walked into the chambers of the New York City Council and 
unleashed a violent attack on Mr. Davis that took his life. That attack 
took place in the workplace in front of all his colleagues.

  To this very day, I need to just close my eyes, and I can transport 
myself back into that moment where members had to scramble to the 
floor, where members ran out of the chambers and barricaded themselves 
in the speaker's office waiting to be rescued, not knowing whether we 
were being attacked or it was a lone assailant, not knowing whether our 
colleague would survive or whether he would perish.
  Mr. Speaker, since 2003, we have continued to see senseless death due 
to uncontrolled unwillingness in this body to do what we know we can 
do: to do background checks, to make sure that we provide a pathway for 
those who have mental health concerns to receive treatment, and to ban 
AK-47s and AR-15s.
  If you are 18 and have to be registered to drive in the United States 
of America, you should also have to be registered to carry a firearm.
  We know there are plenty of stories of gun violence that are not 
shared on the House floor, and many more receive no media coverage.
  The gun epidemic has hit underserved communities of color 
particularly hard. Gun homicide rates in these neighborhoods have 
reached a critical point, where homicide rates often reach 10 times the 
national average.

                              {time}  2015

  While gun-related deaths have fallen in New York, in parts of my 
district, the death toll has risen since last year. In Brownsville, 
Brooklyn alone, murders are up.
  Mr. Speaker, we are in the midst of a national crisis. Urban violence 
has too often been left out of the national conversation about guns, 
gun running, and gun trafficking, and instead, too often, the epidemic 
in urban centers is used by many as a misguided, misdirected 
distraction so that our conversations on gun reform, racial justice, or 
police tactics are disregarded. But gun violence intervention programs 
have been shown to be effective at breaking the cycle of violence and 
impacting communities.
  The question is: Will Congress truly get serious about supporting 
these programs? Will we get serious about universal background checks? 
Will we get serious about limiting access to weapons of war?
  Nine out of 10 Americans agree that we should have universal 
background checks, including three out of four NRA members. But this 
Republican Congress has shown to be spineless.
  In the East Room of the White House, the President expressed his 
solidarity with the people of Santa Fe and said his administration 
would do everything in its power to protect schools and keep guns away 
from those who should not have them.
  Just earlier this year, he also vowed to take action after the 
Parkland shooting. At that time, the President said he would look at 
stricter background checks and raising the minimum age for buying an 
assault weapon. But Donald Trump did not press for

[[Page H4276]]

any action on any of those initiatives. Lies, once again, to the 
American people. Congress did not follow through. Shame on us for our 
inaction. We are well past time for action, Mr. Speaker. The time is 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from the Second District of 
Louisiana (Mr. Richmond) to address this Special Order hour of the 
Congressional Black Caucus, our chairman.
  Mr. RICHMOND. Mr. Speaker, let me thank Congresswoman Clarke from New 
York for those very insightful and passionate words.
  Just a few moments ago, we listened to Republicans talk about the 
sanctity of life and how they want to protect everyone. They will 
protect anyone, as long as they don't have to go up against the NRA.
  What we have here is, we are protecting our children. We always say 
our children are our future. We should act like it.
  This weekend, I was speaking at Baker High School's graduation and I 
realized that while we were celebrating those 139 kids' graduation, 
there were families from Santa Fe that were preparing home-going 
celebrations for their children.
  Dr. King once said that there comes a point where silence is 
betrayal. We have passed that point in this body, in this Congress, a 
long time ago. Our silence is betraying our future. It is betraying our 
children. It is betraying their parents.
  So, when we take a moment of silence and we ask to pray, let us not 
pray to end school violence. Let's pray for the courage to actually do 
something about it.
  I know all my friends on the right like to claim they are the 
Christian right. But if they were the Christian right, they would pray 
for some courage and they would do something. But there is an old 
gospel song that says:
  ``Lord, don't move my mountain. Give me the strength to climb.
  ``Lord, don't move my stumbling blocks, but lead me all around.''
  What it is saying is: Lord, give me the strength to fight my battles. 
Give me the strength to help myself.
  So, if we are going to pray as a body, if we are going to pray as a 
Nation, we should be praying that this body musters up some courage to 
do something about it. I am not saying that there are not any good 
suggestions on the other side. I am saying they won't address the hard 
suggestions about access to high-capacity cartridges, guns that shoot 
over and over and over and over again. I am talking about weapons of 
mass destruction in our community.
  We don't have to go look in Iraq or Afghanistan for weapons of mass 
destruction. Go look at your nearest sporting goods store, your nearest 
pawn shop. We are selling them right here in this country. Everyone 
doesn't have to get a background check.
  So I would just say that the time is now. The time was yesterday.
  I will just leave the body with this fact. When we had more people 
killed in school shootings than we have lost in the military this year, 
that should say something about this country, that should say something 
about where we are headed, and I would just hope that the two sides 
could come together, although I don't have much belief that we will get 
action from the other side until the NRA gives them a permission slip.
  But our children are far too fragile. When our children start to 
believe that this is the norm, as opposed to the exception, we all need 
to go home and take a look in the mirror and say that this is not about 
the next election. We should muster up the courage, because this is 
absolutely about the next generation.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for those 
very thoughtful words. I hope that our colleagues on the other side of 
the aisle will heed his admonition because, indeed, action needs to be 
taken, and it needs to be taken now.
  Without further ado, it is my honor and privilege to yield to the 
gentlewoman from the Second District of Illinois, Ms. Robin Kelly, who 
has been an ardent defender, an outspoken advocate for gun violence 
  Ms. KELLY of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate Congresswoman Clarke 
leading this gun violence session. I will tell her, it is sickening to 
me that I am here again. I cannot believe I have been here 5 years and 
we have not brought one gun violence prevention piece of legislation to 
the floor.
  There is legislation that a variety of people want to bring to the 
floor, but for some apparent reason, Speaker Ryan and Speaker Boehner 
before him, I guess they don't care enough about our kids dying not 
only in schools, not only in mass shootings, but dying in the streets 
of various cities in our Nation. It is absolutely ridiculous.
  American children are being massacred. They are being massacred in 
city parks and in classrooms, at movie theaters, concerts, and even in 
their car seats, because of this Congress's criminal--that is what I 
said, criminal--inaction on gun violence.
  Last week, instead of debating broadly supported legislation to 
ensure a background check on every gun sale, we spent hours debating a 
deeply flawed farm bill that would take food out of the mouths of 
hungry American children.
  I don't think we care about children in this Congress, at least my 
colleagues on the other side. This disaster of a farm bill failed 
because it didn't meet the needs of American farmers and families, just 
like we are failing to meet the needs of American families on gun 
  Mr. Speaker, couldn't we have better spent our time debating and 
advancing a bill to save lives? Shouldn't we be more interested in 
protecting the lives of American children?
  Instead of working to take food away from hungry children, perhaps we 
should work to take guns away from dangerous individuals.
  Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say last week's events in Santa Fe, 
Texas, were unusual. I wish I would say this never happens, that it 
that was unusual or a freak accident. But that is not true. In fact, 
one of the young ladies said she was not surprised. It has been 
happening all over and she knew it would come to her school. That is an 
absolute shame that that young lady said that.
  I wish I could say that about Palmdale, California, or Mobile 
Alabama; Parkland, Florida, or Raytown, Missouri. But I can't and I 
won't because, again, it is not true.
  School shootings are no longer unusual, no longer shocking. They 
happen nearly every week in our Nation. It is only May 21 and we have 
already had 22 school shootings this year. Twenty-two school shootings 
in a matter of 5 months. Yet, my colleagues on the other side of the 
aisle see no problem with this.
  The GOP offers thoughts and prayers, but nothing in the order of 
solutions or actions. Do you hear what the people are saying?
  They don't want any more thoughts and prayers. They shun TV and radio 
interviews about this crisis, while mothers and fathers cry themselves 
asleep in an empty house. They speak about investing in mental health 
and expanding school security, while people who should never have guns 
walk into gun shows and walk out with the latest in military-grade 
  They produce a budget that really takes away from mental health.
  We are better than that and the American people certainly deserve 
better than that. Every single day, Mr. Speaker, there is a mother 
burying her child because of gun violence. Every single day, dreams of 
college, a career, and a family get packed into tiny pine boxes because 
of House Republicans' gross negligence and inaction.
  One thing is crystal clear: While the House majority may not have 
pulled the trigger, it is a blind embrace of inaction that makes it 
just as guilty--guilty for the murder of Bailey Holt, 15, in Benton, 
Kentucky; guilty for the murder of Jaelynn Willey, 16, in Lexington 
Park, Maryland; and guilty for the murder of Martin Duncan, 16, of 
Chicago, Illinois.
  Mr. Speaker, you have heard us say it over and over: How many more? 
When is enough enough? How much more guilt will you bear? How many more 
times will we hold moments of silence with no follow-through on action?
  When will this Congress have a fraction of the courage that Scott 
Beigel showed at Parkland? When will House Republicans follow the 
example of Victoria Leigh Soto in Newtown and actually protect kids' 
lives? When will Speaker Ryan show the slightest bit of courage that 
Aaron Feis had?

[[Page H4277]]

  Instead of finding the courage to act, this House, this Speaker, the 
majority have stood on the sidelines while kids die, and all because of 
those big, fat NRA checks and because they don't have the courage. That 
is disgusting and it is wrong.
  As we look to assign responsibility for these mass shootings, as we 
ask ourselves: Why all the violence? Where did it come from? As we ask 
ourselves: Why does this keep happening? We need to look no further 
than Longworth 1233, Speaker Ryan's office, for the responsibility of 
inaction, the responsibility of omission, and the responsibility of 
being too beholden to the NRA to save lives, instead of beholden to the 
people of this country, to the mothers and fathers who have lost their 
kids, to the future kids going to school.
  When will it end?
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from 
Illinois for her words and for really laying out the framework for 
which this Congress needs to act. She said that it is a shame and a 
disgrace. I agree wholeheartedly. But I think that even more, our 
Republican colleagues need to search their souls, particularly those 
who claim to be of the Christian faith, which is the faith that I 
practice. Indeed, they are going to be called to account for their 
inaction. All I would ask is that the Lord have mercy on their souls, 
because there is blood on their hands.
  Mr. Speaker, having said that, I yield to the gentlewoman from the 
Third District of Ohio, Mrs. Joyce Beatty, an outspoken advocate, one 
who comes from a State where, again, gun rights are something that 
people pride themselves in. Commonsense gun measures are something that 
everyone is crying out for.
  Mrs. BEATTY. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York, but 
more importantly, I thank her for anchoring tonight's message against 
gun violence.
  Mr. Speaker, I come here tonight with a heavy heart. I don't have a 
written script, but I was so touched when I listened to Congresswoman 
Clarke's opening statement and then when my classmate and colleague, 
Congresswoman Robin Kelly, spoke.

                              {time}  2030

  I wanted to come tonight because I want everyone listening to us to 
know to ask the question, Mr. Speaker: Why are we lagging behind? To 
ask the question: When are we going to do more than one moment of 
silence when there has been an unnecessary shooting?
  We do it when there is national attention. But what happens when that 
young person in their backyard, what happens when that person is killed 
by a gun in their home? All lives matter, Mr. Speaker.
  So, tonight, our message is clear. Americans have asked us to do 
something. I had the opportunity to witness thousands and thousands and 
thousands of young folks who came together to March for Our Lives 
because this is their way of life, and they felt that they should do 
something, and they did.
  And at the end of the program in the Third Congressional District, 
they looked to us as leaders and said: What are you going to do for us? 
What are you going to do about this?
  So I thought about it, and I went to my office, and I thought maybe I 
can take all of these commonsense gun laws and roll it into a bill that 
is called the Safer America for Everybody Right Now Act.
  It won't solve the entire problem, but this is what we are called to 
do. We are called to come here and try to make a difference. We come to 
this floor just tonight talking about saving lives, talking about how 
much we care for families. We run on a platform of caring about our 
children and family and saving lives, and, yet, we come here and can't 
get a piece of legislation put before the Congress to vote on it. Mr. 
Speaker, that is not right, and it is not fair, and the American public 
deserves more.
  Lastly, let me just say, I can remember sitting in that church when 
nine innocent churchgoing lives were taken. I can remember going to 
Ferguson and being at the site where a young African American boy's 
life was taken with a gun. I can tell you about being with the mothers 
in the movement and the pain and the agony in their voices when they 
talked about the loss of their child.
  I was here as a freshman with Sandy Hook, and you know, I was at the 
nightclub in Florida. What more does it take, Mr. Speaker, than us 
coming here tonight asking you to do more than sit in that chair; 
asking you to put fair legislation on this floor so we can vote on it? 
That is my ask tonight.
  Please support some of the bipartisan legislation that we have. 
Please look at putting funds in for mental health. Just do something to 
help us have a safer America now.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from 
Ohio (Mrs. Beatty) for bringing her plea to the floor. She is 
absolutely correct. The inaction of the Speaker of the House of 
Representatives on the matter of gun violence in America is appalling.
  So we call on him to bring bipartisan legislation to the floor. We 
have the votes to pass it. The question is: Do we have the will? Do we 
have the spine? Do we have the courage to do what needs to be done in 
the 21st century to protect our communities from this onslaught of gun 
  Having said that, it is now my honor and my privilege to to yield to 
my coanchor to share his thoughts with us this evening, none other than 
the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Dwight Evans.
  Mr. EVANS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, Congresswoman Clarke, 
for leading this critical Special Order to speak about the national 
epidemic of gun violence, an important topic to all of us.
  Sadly, though, Mr. Speaker, it seems that most Members only need to 
dust off their talking points from the last mass shooting, which was in 
Florida at Parkland. As the Grammy-winning artist, Kelly Clarkson, 
noted over the weekend, the same script plays out: vigils are held and 
the dead children are in our thoughts and prayers and life goes on, 
with most of the rest of us hoping and praying that our loved ones will 
not become a victim.
  Let me repeat that, Mr. Speaker. The same old script, which we play 
the same old game over and over again, we have these vigils, we come to 
this floor, we make these prayers, and the reality of it is, we hope 
and pray that someone will not become a victim.
  Yet nothing gets done because the GOP leadership refuses to do 
anything about gun violence. The Black community is at a critical time 
because we have a lot to lose, because too many of our neighborhoods, 
unfortunately, have been subject to gun violence at a consistent rate, 
crimes which often goes unpunished because of unreliable and reluctant 
  And the same President who asked what do we have to lose, twitters 
away his time in a tunnel. It seems like he has no conscience when it 
comes to these children dodging bullets, because he does nothing but 
cower and duck responsibility.
  On February 14, this Nation once again witnessed a horrific tragedy 
that took place at a high school in Florida. Seventeen lives were taken 
at the hands of a gunman with too much firepower. And now, another 
shooting, 3 months later after Florida and 7 months after Las Vegas in 
October. The horror and the tragedy that shook the Florida high school 
should have been the last.
  Yet, tragically, our Nation has lost too many loved ones at the hands 
of gun violence, at the point where we often see the same reaction: 
hand-wringing, blaming going around, but nothing is being done to stop 
the violence. And now in a small town in Texas, it is being done again.
  The city of Philadelphia knows all too well the lives lost at the 
hands of gun violence. In 2017, we saw our city experience its largest 
homicide epidemic since 2012. There were over 317 homicides in 
Philadelphia, according to data from the Philadelphia Police 
Department. And with the continued surge of gun violence in 
Philadelphia, last year I handed a letter to the Pennsylvania attorney 
general, Josh Shapiro, outlining our Commonwealth needs to use all 
resources possible to advocate for commonsense gun reform.
  Since I handed that letter to our Commonwealth's attorney general, we 
have had more heartbreak in America, 

[[Page H4278]]

including the unspeakable tragedy at a church, a place of worship and 
refuge in Texas, and a mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas, 
Florida, and now Texas.

  Too often these tragedies occur because there is unimpeded access to 
guns. There are over 300 million guns in America. Most are owned by 
law-abiding citizens without harmful or dangerous intent, yet a gun in 
the wrong hands can lead to the horrific situations witnessed most 
recently in Las Vegas, Texas, and Florida.
  Nearly 1.7 million children live in a home with a loaded, unlocked 
gun. Every year, thousands of kids are killed by firearms as a result. 
Our goal here in Congress must be to make sure our communities and our 
churches and our children are safe.
  When we hear from the President on these matters, you listen to a 
voice that does not sound like the Commander in Chief or the soother in 
chief, but a President who, frankly, does not understand his job and 
too often lacks empathy, which was the case shown last week.
  We are in the business of doing no harm. As elected officials, we are 
here to help move our neighborhoods forward, not backwards. I stand 
before you today to tell you, just as I have always done, I will 
continue to advocate for commonsense gun reform to keep everyone in our 
neighborhoods safe. It is evident that we must do more than the current 
status quo.
  I say to you, Mr. Speaker, today, under the leadership of our 
chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus and the leader of this 
Special Order, Congresswoman Clarke, that we are determined--we are 
determined to stay as long as we have to and continue to be in 
everyone's face about this issue.
  Enough is enough. You have heard Members this evening say it about 
their districts, but it is not just in our districts. It is all across 
the country. Enough is enough. We all have to collectively recognize 
that this is not Democrat or Republican, but this is about the people 
in America.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I say to you and to my colleague, who is leading 
this effort--and I thank her for showing the kind of leadership that is 
necessary in this effort, and she is doing a fantastic job in the great 
State and city of New York--in Brooklyn, that is. I want to make it 
very clear. She is leading this effort.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from 
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for his words of wisdom and for his 
statistical data.
  And just to add to the conversation is that we have not counted those 
who were injured in all of these gun violence episodes across this 
Nation, those who have been traumatized by exposure to such carnage 
that is unfolding right before their very eyes. There are individuals 
in hospitals right now, as we speak, trying to recover from the most 
horrific gun violence that has ever hit their communities. We don't 
know that all of them will heal, and, you know, this should be 
motivation to everyone in this Chamber to act.
  We are all just a moment away from a tragic occurrence. And as a 
matter of fact, it wasn't that long ago that our colleagues were set 
upon at a Congressional Baseball Game practice. It boggles the mind. 
You have to ask yourself, where is the sanity when individuals who were 
gunned down at a Congressional Baseball Game practice have not mustered 
up the courage to bring a bill to the floor? Unbelievable. 
  Having said that, I yield to the gentlewoman from North Carolina, 
Alma Adams, the 12th District, who is an advocate as well for 
commonsense gun measures in this Nation to come and bring her comments 
at this time.
  Ms. ADAMS. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from New York and the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania for organizing this event tonight. Thank 
you for allowing me some time.
  Like many of my colleagues, I have come to the floor to speak on this 
topic too many times. In the last year, we witnessed dozens of school 
shootings, and each time we say it is too soon to discuss a solution to 
the violence.
  Instead, we call for a moment of silence. Mr. Speaker, it is not too 
soon, but it will soon be too late. Thoughts and prayers and silence, 
they just aren't enough. We need action, and we need it now.
  In 2018, there have been more than 20 school shootings, which have 
resulted in more deaths than lives lost in military combat. Students 
and their parents shouldn't have to wonder whether they are safe in 
school. They shouldn't have to fear going to school.
  As a grandmother and mother and retired educator, that shocks me. As 
an American, that infuriates me. It is time Congress has the moral 
courage to act. Like Fannie Lou, I am sick and tired of being sick and 
tired of the same old 1 minute, 1 minute, 1 minute rhetoric. We owe the 
students and families of Santa Fe and Stoneman Douglas and Sandy Hook 
and Columbine and all of our children all over this country so much 
more. No more executions. Let's pass some legislation to help end this 
tragic epidemic immediately.
  We must not wait. Our Nation can't wait any longer and our children 
can't either, so let's do the right thing because it is the right 
thing. You know, the time is always right to do what is right.

                              {time}  2045

  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from the 
12th District of North Carolina, the Honorable Alma Adams, for bringing 
her comments to the floor. At this time, clearly across this Nation, we 
represent very different districts, but there is one thing that we all 
have in common, and that is a reverence and a real concern about the 
human condition; and the fact that here we are, once again, coming to 
the floor to plead with the leadership of this body to bring 
commonsense gun violence prevention laws to the people of this country. 
We won't stop until that occurs.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentlewoman from New Jersey (Mrs. Watson 
Coleman), an outspoken advocate, who has done everything within her 
power to bring a voice to the voiceless, particularly those who are 
trying to come to grips with the violence that is unleashed in this 
Nation, and the lack of action coming from the leadership here in the 
House of Representatives.
  Mrs. WATSON COLEMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for leading 
us in this Special Order hour on such an important topic.
  It is safe to say that we are past the point of enough is enough 
because, apparently, enough is not enough.
  Every time we face down another mass shooting, we have another moment 
of silence.
  The United States has more gun deaths than any other developed 
nation, and it has far higher levels of gun ownership than any other 
country in the world. The U.S. has nearly six times the gun homicide 
rate of Canada, more than seven times that of Sweden, and nearly 16 
times that of Germany, according to United Nations data.
  Mass shootings constituted less than 2 percent of gun deaths in 2013. 
However, the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world's 
population, but holds 31 percent of global mass shooters. We can go on 
and on and on and on and on with statistics.
  We know what researchers have found. Researchers have found that when 
there is commonsense gun safety legislation, the number of deaths 
associated with guns decreases. We know that there was a 2016 review of 
130 studies in 10 countries, published by Epidemiologic Reviews, which 
found that new legal restrictions on owning and purchasing guns tended 
to be followed by a drop in gun violence, a strong indicator that 
restricting access to firearms can save lives.
  Since 2012, there have been 46 moments of silence on the floor of the 
House of Representatives addressing the tragic deaths in mass 
  And what have we done?
  We get up for 46 moments of silence and we do nothing.
  I have but a few comments left, and I would like to direct those 
comments to the chair behind the microphone because the person that 
holds that chair holds all of the power in determining what our agenda 
will be in this House.
  The person who sits in that chair makes a determination whether or 
not we value those innocent lives we are losing every single solitary 
day because people who shouldn't have guns have access to guns, or 
whether or not we should just have one more moment of silence. And it 
is the person who sits

[[Page H4279]]

in that chair that is the biggest problem between doing what makes 
sense, what people expect from us, what we need to be doing, and doing 
  I am the grandmother of a 5-year-old child. She will be going to 
public school for the first time in her life. When her father went to 
school, they had fire drills. When she goes to school, she will be 
having active shooter drills.
  Do you have any idea what that means to a next generation; what that 
will do to their mind, their personal sense of security?
  They won't even want to go to school because they will be afraid that 
they will not be protected.
  The person sitting in that chair right now can give us an opportunity 
to respond to the majority of the people in this country and bring 
before this House commonsense gun safety legislation. There are 
hundreds of bills in the hopper, languishing to be brought up.
  We don't have the courage. No, not we. I have the courage. My 
colleagues, in my caucus, have the courage.
  The person who sits in that chair represents the majority of the 
Members in Congress, and they have demonstrated that they lack the 
courage, the will, or the desire.
  But do you know what?
  The next child who experiences death at the hands of someone who 
shouldn't have a gun could very easily be one of their children. We 
better get sensible about what we are doing. Screw the NRA. They are 
screwing us.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
those comments. I feel her sense of frustration, I feel her outrage, 
and I think many Americans--as a matter of fact, the majority of 
Americans--do when they hear the outcries of the parents who have 
learned that their children have been gunned down in school; when they 
see their children on lifesaving equipment in hospitals because they 
are hanging on to life by a thread; when they see their children duck 
down under their beds because they hear a car backfire, having 
flashbacks from the trauma they experienced in school, hearing mass 
gunfire taking place before their very eyes; when they don't want to go 
to school because they remember the rivers of blood that they witnessed 
as children and teachers' lives were being sucked out of them, due to 
the gun violence that was unleashed in a place that is supposed to be 
safe for them to learn, to grow, and to mature.
  Mr. Speaker, we can't hear you.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott), 
someone who the Congressional Black Caucus looks to for a lot of our 
legislation when it comes to criminal justice, and when it comes to 
understanding the role that we can play in advancing progressive 
  Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for 
allowing me to speak on this ver important issue, and I thank her for 
leading this Special Order on this important topic, which is gun 
safety, especially as it relates to school safety.

  Keeping all students and educators safe is a top priority. On Friday, 
we had another tragedy. A small town that few could point out on a map 
is now infamous. Santa Fe High School, near Galveston, Texas, 
experienced a mass shooting, leaving 10 dead: Eight students, two 
teachers. Several students said to the media, they knew this would 
eventually happen to them.
  Our thoughts and prayers are with those students and with the 
families suffering from acts of gun violence, but enough is enough.
  This shooting marks at least 16 shootings in schools just this year. 
Using the same metrics, there have been hundreds of school shootings 
since the April 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, 
Colorado: Marjory Stoneman Douglas; Sandy Hook; Columbine; Virginia 
Tech; and now Santa Fe.
  We watch, year after year, as students and educators lose their lives 
to gun violence, both in and out of school. Yet, in the decades since 
Columbine, Congress has taken virtually no action.
  Instead of ignoring these tragedies, Congress must have some hard 
conversations about guns, about mental health, about bullying, and 
about policies that contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline. And 
more than just conversation, Congress must act with policies built on 
evidence-based research, not slogans and sound bites. We all agree that 
we must do all that we can do to protect our students and prevent 
violence of all forms, including gun violence.
  In the wake of Columbine, the knee-jerk reaction was to put more 
police in schools, invest in security infrastructure such as metal 
detectors, and turn our schools into fortresses. The research, based on 
such policies, is clear that more guns and schools built like Fort Knox 
will not make our students and teachers safer, and likely will 
negatively impact vulnerable students.
  There is evidence that with more police in schools, they will be more 
likely to arrest the children than to protect the children. After 
Columbine, we passed legislation providing services for those caught up 
in the juvenile justice system, but, unfortunately, over the years, 
that funding has evaporated.
  After Sandy Hook, no action was taken either. The Democratic Gun 
Safety Task Force made a list of recommendations of actions we could 
take, like an assault weapons ban, limiting the size of magazines, 
closing loopholes in background checks, more investments in mental 
health, and funding evidence-based policies that reduce crime. 
Unfortunately, no action has been taken on this list of initiatives.
  Yet, we have seen virtually no action, even after the situation in 
Parkland, Florida. Instead, we have seen calls to arm teachers, allow 
racial discrimination in the name of safety, and equip every school 
with more armed police officers. These measures have created a culture 
of fear and anxiety that actually makes the school-to-prison pipeline 
worse, and it does nothing to increase school safety.
  We know what needs to be done to address school shootings. We need to 
equip our school leaders, teachers, and parents with the resources 
necessary to ensure access to school-based mental health services; we 
need to prevent bullying and harassment; and we need to achieve safe 
and welcoming learning environments for all students.
  Comprehensive and collaborative interventions will help address 
school violence, improve school climate, and keep students safe. 
Students desperately need the staff and resources to better meet the 
mental health needs of students. We must invest in hiring more school 
counselors, psychologists, and social workers. Trauma-informed care is 
a framework that helps all stakeholders recognize the signs of trauma 
and provides training on how to support children coping with trauma.
  And we need proactive, not reactive, approaches to handling school 
discipline. Unfortunately, far too many schools today do not utilize 
the prevention interventions and, instead, rely heavily on suspensions 
and expulsions. The evidence is clear: the overuse of exclusionary 
discipline and the disparate treatment of students of color and 
students with disabilities robs our most vulnerable students of the 
opportunity to learn and to achieve.
  In 2014, the Obama administration released a guidance package that 
focused on clarifying schools' obligation under Federal civil rights 
law to identify and address racial bias in discipline policies and 
practices. Those guidelines showed localities how to reduce those 
disparities without jeopardizing school safety. The guidance has 
recently been under attack from the administration and congressional 
Republicans, who are actually trying to claim the guidance has 
contributed to the school shooting in Parkland. Not only is this 
claim exploiting a tragedy to advance previous priorities, it is also 
factually false.

  The guidance package, in no way, required schools to change 
discipline policies if disparities did not exist; and if the 
disparities did exist, they were not required to take any action that 
reduced school safety. Further, the guidance rightly pointed out that 
research shows suspensions and expulsions are ineffective and, 
actually, a harmful means of handling school discipline.
  Mr. Speaker, Congress needs to take action because what we have done 
so far is not enough. We must enact commonsense gun violence prevention 
measures, and we must provide resources to educators and students to 
increase access to mental health services. I hope that as we move 
forward from yet another tragedy, that we can

[[Page H4280]]

stand together, ready to support our teachers, students, and families 
with real, evidence-based solutions.
  Ms. CLARKE of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from the 
Third District of Virginia, the Honorable Bobby Scott, for those 
  Mr. Speaker, I neglected to mention that he is the ranking member on 
the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and has really brought 
forth to us the real tangible information that we have about what 
happens to our young people in school when such tragedies occur, and 
what all of the fallout and by-products can be when we institute 
nonsensical policies, like having teachers arm themselves in the 
classroom, or the overreliance of law enforcement in the school 
  Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman for bringing those facts 
to the floor and really laying out for the American people what it 
really means for our students to have to experience this violence 
within what is supposed to be the sanctity of their classrooms.

                              {time}  2100

  Having said that, let me just close this evening's Special Order hour 
by expressing sort of the collective outrage of the members of the 
Congressional Black Caucus for the inaction of our Speaker and our 
colleagues on the other side of the aisle in the Republican Party who 
are not stepping up to show courage and determination to really bring 
an end to what we see as a violent epidemic in our Nation at this time.
  Our colleague called upon colleagues in the body today to stand with 
him if they had witnessed or have experienced gun violence in their 
communities, to stand with the families whose names he read off today 
of children who perished in Texas. I found it interesting, when I 
looked at the floor--I didn't go to the floor because I knew it was 
just a ploy. But when I looked and saw how many colleagues were 
standing there with him, I said, if only they brought some legislation 
to the floor to end all of this, it would pass, because just about 
every colleague has been impacted by this outbreak in horrible gun 
violence across this Nation.
  We need our legislation to be brought to the floor. Not doing so is 
really an affront to the American people, and it is certainly 
uncivilized and, some would even say, barbaric, because we have the 
knowledge, the wherewithal, and the ability to make a difference in the 
lives of the American people. It is up to us, the people who they have 
elected, to do the work that must be done on their behalf.
  Enough is enough, Mr. Speaker. Lives are being lost minute by minute, 
hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year in America 
because of the inaction of the Republican majority in the House of 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Hollingsworth). Members are reminded to 
refrain from engaging in personalities toward the President.