Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor as Republicans blocked a unanimous consent request to pass the Assault Weapons Ban. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Here are the facts: the scourge of gun violence in America is a national crisis.
The American people are sick and tired of enduring one mass shooting after another. They’re sick and tired of vigils and moments of silence for family, friends, classmates, coworkers.
Today, Democrats have moved to pass the Assault Weapons Ban, to help rid our streets of these deadly weapons.
I want to thank my colleagues who support this measure, particularly Senator Durbin, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, as well as Senators Murphy, Blumenthal, and Warnock, who organized today’s effort with me.
We already have a decade’s worth of proof that a ban on military-style assault weapons works and saves lives, plain and simple.
After I led the passage of the Assault Weapons Ban – I carried the bill in the House as a congressman alongside our late colleague, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who carried it in the Senate – what happened? America saw a significant decrease in mass shootings and in gun deaths. A decrease.
Unsurprisingly, when that ban lapsed, there was a sudden and dramatic spike in mass shootings and deaths from those shootings. We must change that.
We still feel the unquenchable suffering of the families of Sandy Hook, where eleven years ago next week, 26 innocent lives were cut short by an automatic weapon. I still see the pictures of those little children, and I still remember – because I speak to them all fairly regularly – the parents, who have a hole in their hearts forever because some madman with an assault weapon was able to kill 26 of them, one after the other.
We still feel the agony of places like Buffalo, where a year and a half ago a gunman murdered ten people in cold blood at a Tops grocery store. I was at that grocery store a few days later. I still feel their pain.
We feel the pain of Uvalde, Las Vegas, Orlando, El Paso. The list, sadly, goes on and on and on.
And we also take action today because of tragedies like the Long Island Rail Road massacre that happened thirty years ago tomorrow in my own backyard.
The innocent people who lost their lives at the Merillon train station. It was the 5:33 train filled with commuters heading home from work. So many injured. Six killed. My heart still sinks. And I’ll never forget hearing that news. The “river of blood” in the aisles of the commuter railroad train. Just horrible.
By passing the Assault Weapons Ban today, we can help save lives, get these weapons off our streets, and prevent future tragedies.
So, today Republicans face a choice, as they do every day. We say to our Republican friends: stand with families fearing for their lives, or stand with the gun lobby and block this Assault Weapons Ban.
Just look at what happened the last time both sides worked together on commonsense gun safety measures: we did something many believed to be impossible – under the leadership of Senator Murphy, Senator Durbin, and Senator Blumenthal, and so many others – and passed the first major gun safety bill in three decades.
While this bill was a long-overdue step in the right direction, we have to do a lot more. Today, we have an opportunity to come together again and pass another lifesaving measure.