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tv   U.S. Senate Sen. Blumenthal on Sandy Hook school shooting  CSPAN  December 15, 2017 3:29am-3:49am EST

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innovation. i want to talk today on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the sandy hook massacre in my state of
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connecticut about one of the saddest days of my life, one of the worst days of my public career. when i went to the elementary school in newtown, connecticut, along with a number of my colleagues who will be speaking today as well congress woman este and senator murphy. in the judiciary committee just moments ago, senator feinstein circulated a framed copy of the front page of the daily news of wednesday, december, almost to the day. that front page has photographs of the 20 beautiful children who were lost in that unspeakable
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act of terror and horror. they are 20 wonderful human beings who would be 11 years old today. their great teachers were killed as well. having valued and known their parents as friends and fellow advocates in the effort to achieve commonsense measures against gun violence, i know how deeply that pain is still felt. the healing is far from over. the grief remains. prayers and thoughts go every day to the loved ones who lost
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those children and educators. prayers and thoughts are not enough. never have been after any of these massacres, never will be after any of the mass killings or the one-by-one deaths in our communities, 90 every day in this great country. gun violence kills 90 people every day, 150,000 have perished since sandy hook. so as we commemorate this awful day five years ago, let us rededicate ourselves to action, honor those victims with action, honor all victims with action. it is never too soon to honor the victims with action. on that front page of the daily
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news, there is a line that says new york's hometown newspaper. new york wasn't the hometown to those sandy hook victims but america felt that sandy hook is every town in america and it is indeed a quintessentially an american town filled with wonderful people who hugged and grieved together that day. that night in the st. rose of lima church and in the days following when there were calling hours and funerals one after the other, it seemed like they would never end. and in some ways they have never ended because for those
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families, those losses are still real and urgent. and for us the task of honoring those 20 beautiful children and six great educators ought to be real and urgent, even more so today than it was then. that day we prayed in the st. rose of lima church. i said to the congregation, the whole world is watching. the whole world was watching. the world is watching america to see whether we will act. we are not the only country with mental health problems. our rate of mental illness is no greater than any other developed industrial country, but our rate of gun violence is off the charts compared to other
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countries. there is no excuse for it. there's no need or rational explanation for it. and as we prayed and grieved then in the wake of that senseless, horrific tragedy, congress turned its back. it turned its back on those courageous and strong families who came here in the weeks following talking to our colleagues across the aisle and on this side asking for commonsense measures, background checks, and there was a bipartisan measure then to extend background checks and achieve other gun violence prevention measures which unfortunately failed on this floor to gain enough votes. we had 55 but we needed 60.
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and from the gallery on that day, someone shouted shame. december 14, 2012, will be forever a stain on our nation's history. that day will forever be a black mark on the united states of america. but so will the day that those common sense measures were rejected in this chamber, that shame was richly deserved on that day. congress saw the photos of those innocent babies, those wonderful children. it saw their grieving parents. it saw the lines of terrified and traumatized children on that
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day being led to safety out of their elementary school. it saw the war zone that the school became when that mass killing turned it into something that no teacher, no educator ever could have foreseen. those educators helped to save lives, and congress saw and heard the stories about how brave educators sought to shield their children from the bullets coming from that assault weapon on that day. but unfortunately the vice-like grip of the gun lobby and principally the n.r.a., let's be very blunt about who is leading that lobby, prevailed.
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and in the 1,825 days since the sandy hook tragedy, despite the 150,000 people who have perished from gun violence since then, congress has chosen inaction. it has disregarded public safety and the clear will of the american people. it has heeded instead the campaign contributions of the gun lobby and it has failed to act. it has been complicit in the continuing scourge of gun violence but its inaction. it has been complicit in those deaths. it has been an aider and abettor in effect to the 90 killings each day as a result of gun violence. and shame on congress if it fails to act now.
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so today i am not just heart broken, i am furious. i am angry beyond words about congress' complicity about the inaction we have seen, about congress' abject failure to take commonsense steps that will protect the american people, about its failure to meet this public health crisis with the kind of action that the american people deserve and need. if 90 people every day were perishing from ebola or some contagious disease, even the flu, there would be an outcroix, an out-- outcry, an outrage, and we would be clamoring to do something. here the solutions are self-evident. none of them is a panacea. none a single magic solution to this problem. and the trap raised by the gun lobby that none will necessarily
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deal with the mass killing that just happened is indeed a trap we should reject. the ban on bump stocks might have prevented las vegas but not charleston. the closing of the loophole, 72-hour loophole that permits purchasers to bye a gun if the background check has not been completed within 72 hours might not have prevented las vegas but it would have prevented charleston. dylan purchased a gun only because he was able to circumvent the background check as a result of that 72-hour loophole. the ban on certain kinds of high capacity magazines might not have prevented san bean dino -- san bernardino or orlando, but it would have helped to prevent
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sandy hook. we will never know whether any of these measures would prevent every one of the killings that we cite, but each of them can save lives. and if we save one life, we will have saved the world. shame on congress for allowing this tragic anniversary to be followed by so many more. sutherland springs, las vegas, orlando, charleston, and in each and every one of our communities every day, none of our communities is immune from this scourge. it is truly a public health crisis. i'm hopeful that there may well be a crack in the ice of partisan paralysis emerging. i'm proud to be part of a very powerful bipartisan alliance involving our colleagues,
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senators scott, cornyn across the aisle as well as senator murphy and senator -- other senators on this side of the aisle. i'm hoping that we can make modest but crucial improvements to the national instant criminal background check system. the nic system should be fixed. it will provide incentives and encourage states to do better reporting. right now there are immense gaps in reportin reporting in the std even in the federal government which is why, in fact, perhaps sutherland springs occurred because of the failure to report by the air force a domestic violence conviction by court marshal that would have barred the shooter there from obtaining lawfully a weapon had it been
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reported accurately. the fix nic bill would ensure federal and state authority comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to the background check system. this step is the least we can do, not the most, but the bare minimum. and while there is broad support for this modest but significant measure, the republican leadership in the house is already attempting to sabotage it by linking it and pairing it with a truly dangerous concealed carry reciprocity act. that act would sabotage as well the laws of states like connecticut who seek to protect our state. it would in effect provide that permits from other states be treated like driver's licenses.
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no matter how lean yant or even nonexistent the provisions may be for obtaining permits in those other states. it would eviscerate rights of state like connecticut to protect our citizens with higher standards. these basic measures to prevent gun violence have no threat whatsoever to gun ownership. they ensure that people who are a danger to themselves or others and convicted criminals and others already bar -- barred from buying weapons will not be permitted to carry a lethal firearm. i respect the second amendment. it's the law of the land. no firearm should be taken away from law-abiding citizens, but the idea that there is nothing congress can do to make a difference and save american lives is unacceptable and false. it's a political cop-out,
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resoundingly rejected by the vast majority of americans. 95% of americans want background checks applied to all purchases. they overwhelmingly favor fixes to the present background check system that made the oversight of purchases more accurate. and they favor commonsense measures that will protect innocent human beings like the 20 beautiful children, six great educators lost that day in sandy hook. when i feel most discouraged and disgusted, i think of those families. i think of the parents of olivia
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engel. i think of the parents of all of those beautiful children and wonder, as i am sure they often do, what lives they would be leading today, what olivia engel would be doing on this day filled with sun and beauty. in connecticut this morning, it snowed. at 6:00 or 11:00, snow would still be a wonderful thing, never to be taken for granted by any child, and this holiday, all of the wonder and beauty of this holiday never to be taken for granted by a 6-year-old or
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11-year-old. the possibilities and opportunity, the dreams and hopes shattered on that day lost forever. i was at the calling hours for one of the children killed at sandy hook. a gut-wrenching moment, every one of them, and i spoke to the mother of one of those children, and i told her that when she was ready, i said when you are ready, we should do something about gun violence, and she said without hesitation, through reddened eyes and cracking voice, i'm ready now. i'm ready now. america should be ready. america is ready.
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this body should follow america's lead. honor with action. if nothing else is remembered of that day five years ago, let us honor with action those strong and courageous families who have suffered this unspeakable horror and still unimaginable grief and who have come here in years past to ask us to honor with action the victims and survivors and loved ones of sandy hook and of all gun violence horrors in this country. thank you,


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