Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the plague of gun violence in our country and the need to act. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
A week ago, the nation reeled in horror as a deranged gunman shot and killed eight people at three different locations across the Atlanta area. Six of them were Asian-American women.
Just six days later, another shooting. Ten people, shot and killed by a gunman who entered a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. Some were customers, some were employees. One was as young as 20 and one as old as 65.
One of the victims was merely walking through the parking lot after fixing the coffee machines at a nearby Starbucks, the son of Serbian refugees, the shining hope of his family. One of the fallen was a local police officer, Eric Talley, an eleven-year veteran of Boulder Police and a father of seven. You look at each of their faces: young, wise, older. You ache, gone. You think of their families, who you don’t know, never will see them again. Taken so cruelly, so quickly.
Today, flags around the Capitol will remain at half-staff in honor of the victims, and we all grieve with their families. We also grieve with the community of Boulder and the people of Colorado. And we grieve with the people of Georgia, and all people across the United States whose lives have been forever marred by the plague of gun violence.
Covid-19 is not the only epidemic claiming innocent lives in America. Last year alone, twenty thousand Americans were killed by gun violence—the highest number in almost two decades. Most of these incidents never reached the headlines, but we cannot allow ourselves to become numb to their devastation.
After one of the most difficult years in American history, we all want our lives and our country to return to normal. But not this normal. Oh no. Not the normal that accepts everyday gun violence as a matter of course, an incidental risk to living in these United States of America. We cannot—we must not—accept that as normal. We must not shrink from our moral obligation to act.
Two years ago, the Republican Leader, then in the majority, promised that this chamber would have a real debate on gun violence in this country. It never happened. Even the former President made some noises about supporting commonsense gun safety measures before quickly retreating, a result once again of the bitter, reflexive opposition by the NRA to any progress, and fear among so many Republicans of what the NRA might to do them if they spoke truth to power.
Well, now we don’t have a Republican majority. We have a Democratic one. This time is going to be different. A Democratic majority in the Senate is going to act. I have committed to putting legislation to expand background checks on the floor of the Senate. We will debate it, we will vote on it. Just yesterday, my colleague Senator Durbin led the Judiciary Committee in hearing from scores of witnesses about proposals to reduce gun violence that this Senate might take up. I have started the process to make legislation to combat hate crimes against Asian-Americans, led by Senator Hirono and Rep. Meng in the House, available for action on the floor. I’ve been told by so many Asians in New York that they’re afraid just to walk down the streets—something they used to do easily. I’ve seen the pain and fear in their faces as I’ve attended the rallies in New York.
Make no mistake: under the Democratic majority, the Senate will debate and address the epidemic of gun violence in this country.