tv CNN Newsroom CNN March 21, 2013 8:00am-9:00am PDT
the iranian government forsakes nuclear weapons. peace is far more preferable to war. and the inevitable costs, the unintended consequences that would come with war means that we have to do everything we can to try to resolve this diplomatic. because of the cooperation between our governments, we know that there remains time to pursue a diplomatic resolution. that's what america will do, with clear eyes, working with a world that's united, and with the sense of urgency that's required. but iran must know this time is not unlimited. and've made the position of the united states of america clear. iran must not get a nuclear weapon. this is not a danger that can be contained. and as president, i've said all
options are on the table for achieving our objectives. america will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed iran. for young israelis, i know that these issues of security are rooted in an experience that's even more fundamental than the pressing threat of the day. you live in a neighborhood where many of your neighbors have rejected the right of your nation to exist and your grandparents had to risk their lives and all that they had to make a place for themselves in this world. your parents lived through war after war to ensure the survival of the jewish state. your children grow up knowing that people they've never met may hate them because of who
they are in a region that is full of turmoil and changing underneath your feet. so that's what i think about when israel's faced with these challenges. that sense of an israel that is surrounded by many in this region who still reject it and many in the world who refuse to accept it. that's why the security of the jewish people in israel is so important. it cannot be taken for granted. but make no mistake. those who adhere to the ideology of rejecting israel's right to exist, they might as well reject the earth beneath them or the sky above, because israel is not going anywhere.
and today i want to tell you, particularly the young people, so that there's no mistake here, so long as there is a united states of america, you are not alone. the question is, what kind of future israel will look forward to. israel's not going anywhere, but especially for the young people in this audience, the question
is, what does its future hold? and that brings me to the subject of peace. i know israel has taken risks for peace. brave leaders reached treaties with two of your neighbors. you made credible proposals to the palestinians at annapolis. you withdrew from gaza and lebanon and then faced terror and rockets. across the region, you've extended a hand of friendship and all too often, you've been confronted with rejection and in some cases, the ugly reality of anti-semitism. so i believe that the israeli
people do want peace. and i also understand why too many israelis, maybe an increasing number, maybe a lot of young people here today, are skeptical that it can be achieved. but today israel is at a crossroads. it can be tempting to put aside the frustrations and sacrifices that come with the pursuit of peace, particularly when iron dome repels rockets, barriers keep out suicide bombers. there's so many other pressing issues that demand your attention. and i know that only israelis can make the fundamental decisions about your country's future. i recognize that. i also know, by the way, that not everyone in this hall will agree with what i have to say about peace.
i recognize that there are those who are not simply skeptical about peace, but question its underlying premise. have a different vision for israel's future. and that's part of a democracy. that's part of the discourse between our two countries. i recognize that. but i also believe it's important to be open and honest, especially with your friends. i also believe that. you know, politically, given the strong bipartisan support for israel in america, the easiest thing for me to do would be to put this issue aside. just express unconditional support for whatever israel decides to do. that would be the easiest political path. but i want you to know that i speak to you as a friend who is deeply concerned and committed to your future, and i ask you to
consider three points. first, peace is necessary. i believe that. i believe that peace is the only path to true security. you can be -- you have the opportunity to be the generation that permanently secures the zionist dream, or you can chase a growing challenge to its future. given the demographics west of the jordan river, the only way for israel to endure and thrive as a jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable palestine. that is true.
there are other factors involved. given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation, and given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the israeli people over the long-term is through the absence of war, because no wall is high enough and no iron dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from
inflict i inflicting harm. and this true is more pronounced, given the changes sweeping the arab world. i understand that with the uncertainty in the reign, people in the streets, changes in leadership, the rice of non s . nonsecular parties and politics, it's tempting to turn inward because the situation outside of israel seems so chaotic. but this is precisely the time to respond to the wave of revolution with a resolve and commitment for peace. because as more governments respond to popular will, the days when israel could seek peace simply with a handful of autocratic leaders, those days are over. peace will have to be made among peoples, not just governments.
no one, no single step can change overnight what lies in the hearts and minds of millions. no single step is going to erase years of history and propaganda. but progress with the palestinians is a powerful way to begin, while sidelines extremists who thrive on conflict and thrive on division. it would make a difference. so peace is necessary. but peace is also just. peace is also just. there is no question that israel has paced palestinian factions who turned to terror. leaders who missed historic
opportunities. that is all true. and that's why security must be at the center of any agreement. and there is no question that the only path to peace is flu negotiations, which is why, despite the criticism that we've received, the united states will oppose unilateral efforts to bypass negotiations through the united states. it has to be done by the parties. but the palestinian people's right to self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized. and put yourself in their shoes. look at the world through their eyes. it is not fair that a
palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own. living their entire lives within the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements not just of their young people but their parents, their grandparents, every single day. it's not just when violence against palestinians goes unpunished. it's not right to prevent palestinians from farming their lands or restricting a student's ability to move around the west bank or displace palestinian families from their homes. neither occupation nor expulsion
is the answer. just as israelis built a state in their homeland, palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land. you know, i'm going off script here for a second, but before i came here, i met with a group of young palestinians from the age of 15 to 22. and talking to them, they weren't that different from my daughters. they weren't that different from your daughters or sons. i honestly believe that if any
israeli parent sat down with those kids, they'd say, i want these kids to succeed. i want them to prosper. i want them to have opportunities, just like my kids do. i believe that's what israeli parents would want for these kids, if they had a chance to listen to them and talk to them. i believe that. now, only you can determine what kind of democracy you will have. but remember as you make these decisions, you will define not simply the future of your relationship with the palestinians, you will define the future of israel as well.
as ariel sharon said, i'm quoting him, it is impossible to have a jewish democratic state at the same time to control all of irhett's israel. if we focus on fulfilling the dream in its entirety, we are liable to lose it all. or from a different perspective, i think of what the novelist david grossman said shortly after losing his son, as he described the necessity of peace. a peace of no choice, he said, must be approached with the same determination and creativity as one approaches a war of no choice.
now, israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who's dedicated to its destruction. but while i know you have had differences with the palestinian authority, i genuinely believe that you do have a true partner in president abbas and prime minister fayat. i believe that. and they have a track record to prove it. over the last few years, they have built institutions and maintained security on the west bank, in ways that few could have imagined just a few years ago. so many palestinians, including young people, have rejected violence, as a means of achieving their aspirations. there is an opportunity there. there's a window. which brings me to my third point. peace is possible.
it is possible. i'm not saying it's guaranteed. i can't even say that it is more likely than not, but it is possible. i know it doesn't seem that way, there are always going to be reasons to avoid risk. there are costs for failure. there will always be extremists who provide an excuse, not to act. i know there must be something exhausting about endless talks about talks and daily controversies and just the grinding status quo and i'm sure there's a temptation just to say, ah, enough. let me focus on my small corner of the world and my family and my job and what i can control. but it's possible.
negotiations will be necessary, but, there's a little secret about where they must lead. two states for two peoples. two states for two peoples. there will be differences about how to get there. there are going to be hard choices along the way. arab states must adapt to a world that has changed. the days when they could condemn israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity or government corruption or mismanagement, those days need to be over. now's the time for the arab world to take steps towards normalizing relation s wis with israel. meanwhile, palestinians must
recognize that israel will be a jewish state, and that israelis have the right to insist upon their security. israelis must recognize that continued settlement activity is counterproductivie to the cause of peace and that an independent palestine must be bordviable wi real borders that have to be drawn. i'vesuggested principles on territory and security that i believe can be the basis for these talks. but for the moment, put aside the plans and the process. i ask you, instead, to think about what can be done to build trust between people. four years ago, i stood in cairo, in front of an audience of young people, politically,
religiously, they must seem a world away. but the things they want, they're not so different from what the young people here want. they want the ability to make their own decisions and to get an education and to get a good job, to worship god in their own way. to get married, to raise a family. the same is true of those young palestinians i met with this morning. the same is true for the young palestinians who yearn for a better life in gaza. that's where peace begins. not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people. not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections, that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of jerusalem. and let me say this as a politician. i can promise you this. political leaders will never take risks if the people do not
push them to take some risks. you must create the change that you want to see. ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things. i know this is possible. look to the bridges being built in businesses in civil society by some of you here today. look at the young people who have not yet learned a reason to mistrust. or those young people who have learned to overcome a leg soy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents, because they simply recognize that we hold more hopes in common than fears that drive us apart. your voices must be louder than those who would drown out hope. your hopes must light the way forward. look to a future in which jews and muslims and christians can
all live in peace and greater prosperity in this holy land. believe in that. andest mo of a esmost of all, l future you want for your own children. a future in which a jewish, vibrant state is protected for this time and for all time. there will be many who say this is not possible, but remember this. israel is the most powerful country in this region. israel has the unshakable support of the most powerful country in the world. israel's not going anywhere. israel has the wisdom to see the world as it is, but this is in your nature. israel also has the courage to see the world as it should be.
you know, it was once said, in israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles. sometimes the greatest miracle is recognizing that the world can change. that's a lesson that the world has learned from the jewish people. and that brings me to the final area that i'll focus on. prosperity and israel's broader role in the world. i know that all the talk about security and peace can sometimes seem to dominate the headlines, but that's not where people live. and every day, even amidst the threats that you face, israelis are defining themselves by the opportunities that you're creating. through talent and hard work. israelis have put this small
country at the forefront of the global economy. israelis understand the value of education and have produced ten nobel laureates. israeli's understand the power of invention and your universities educate engineers and inventors. and that spirit has led to economic growth and human progress. solar power and electric cars and bandages and prosthetic limbs that save lives, stem cell research and new drugs that treat disease. cell phones and computer technology that change the way people around the world live. so if people want to see the future of the world economy, they should look at tel aviv, home to hundreds of start-ups and research centers.
israelis are so active on social media that every day seemed to bring a different facebook campaign about where i should give this speech. that innovation is just as important to the relationship between the united states and israel as our security cooperation. our first free trade agreement in the world was reached with israel, nearly three decades ago. today, the trade between our two countries is at $40 billion every year. more personal, that partnership is creating new products and medical treatments, it's pushing new frontiers the of science and exploration. that's the kind of relationship that israel should have and could have with every country in the world.
already, we see how that innovation could reshape this region. there's a program here in jerusalem that brings together young israelis and palestinians to learn vital skills and technology in business. an israeli and palestinian have started a venture capital fund to finance start-ups. over 100 high-tech companies have found home on the west bank, which speaks to the talent and entrepreneurial spirit of the palestinian people. yet one of the great iron ies o what's happening in the broader region is that so much of what people are yearning for, education, entrepreneurship, the ability to start a business without paying a bribe, the ability to connect to the global economy, those are things that can be found here in israel. this should be a hub for thriving regional trade and an engine for opportunity.
israel's already a center for innovation, that helps power the global economy. and i believe that all of that potential for prosperity can be enhanced with greater security, enhanced with lasting peace. here, in this small strip of land that has been the center of so much of the world's history, so much triumph and so much tragedy, israelis have built something that few could have imagined 65 years ago. tomorrow, i will pay tribute to that history, at the grave of h herzel, a man who had the foresight to see the jewish people, at the grave of robinin, who understood that israel's
victories in war had to be followed by the battles for peace, and where the world is reminded of the cloud of evil that can descend on the jewish people and all of humanity if we ever fail to be vigilant. we bear all that history on our shoulders. we carry all that history in our hearts. today, as we face the twilight of israel's founding generation, you, the young people of israel, must now claim its future. it falls to you to write the next chapter in the great story of this great nation. and as the president of a country that you can count on, as your greatest friend, i am confident that you can help us find the props in the days that
lie ahead. and as a man who's been inspired in my own life by that timeless calling within the jewish experience, i am hopeful that we can draw upon what's best in ourselves to meet the challenges that will come to win the battles for peace in the wake of so much war and to do the work of repairing this world. that's your job. that's my job. that's the task of all of us. may god bless you. may god bless israel. may god bless the united states of america. thank you. >> the president of the united states says in mehebrew, thank u very much, to the young people where he delivered a very pro-israel, very pro-palestine, a very, very pro-peace speech.
john king was catching together with our entire team what's going on. the president warmly received, john. he got heckled a little bit, made fun of it, but in response, most of the young people there stood up and gave him a standing ovation. a very well-received speech, even though he spoke very directly, very bluntly to the people of israel about the peace process. >> some trademark obama political campaigning, if you will, wolf. what we've seen in the united states on display here in israel. number one, choosing to speak in this big speech to the israeli people, not to the older political leadership, but to younger people. the president is saying the challenge of peace is for the younger generations. both israelis and palestinians, to demand that their leaders take risk. to demand that their leaders abandon the old positions that we know over the last 20, 30, 40 years, have prevented a peace agreement on this sacred land. an interesting position from the president here, because he knows if you look down into the weeds, the obstacles to peace are too much. he's trying to get people to look up, look up to the finish line and get back to the bargaining table without looking
too much. whether it's on the palestinian side, hung up on settlement construction, hung up that the palestinian leadership at the moment in gaza includes a terrorist group, hamas. the president trying to create some new climate for peace without resolving the many obstacles to peace. one of the big questions during this whole visit has been, is he shoulder to shoulder with prime minister benjamin netanyahu on iran? you can be sure, as the prime minister sees the president later today, he will be very happy with what the president said in the speech about iran, saying that he has the sense of urgency that is required and that iran should know it's time for diplomacy is not unlimited. >> the president making the case that the u.s./israeli military relationship, the security cooperation, has never been better. our jerusalem correspondent, sara sidner, who watches and lives this story every single day, let me get your thoughts on what we just heard, sara? >> reporter: i thought one of the poignant moments is when the audience reacted to something he said about the palestinians,
that occupation nor expulsion is the answer. you saw a very huge round of applause. and it gives you some idea of how israelis think. a lot of people think that there's all these very negative thoughts toward the palestinians, but the majority of israelis actually do want the palestinians to be able to form their own state. they do recognize that peace between these two neighbors, who live so close together, so tightly interwoven in so many ways, has to happen in order tort people here in israel, in order for the jewish people to be able to live peaceful lives. so that was an interesting and poignant moment there. also, you could hear the president, you know, i like what john said. he really sounded like he could be doing a state of the union speech inside of israel. and the reaction from the crowd, except for those few moments where he was heckled a bit, and he sort of laughed that off and said, i'm used to it, i feel right at home, and people really applauded him, when he said, look, this is a democratic state, this is the way that people can act. you can disagree with me, that's
perfectly looks like the audien really enjoyed what he said. and he said, look, israel is the most powerful country in this region and it is supported by the most powerful country in the world, making very, very clear that the united states' allegiance with israel, it is its closest friend and ally in this region. he made that point over and over and over again. he has certainly got to make the israeli government very happy, the palestinians also watching this, and some of the comments he made about settlements will certainly make them smile. but everyone is wondering if there's ever going to be an actual peace process during his administration, wolf. >> and that raises the next question, sara, what happens next? we know the secretary of state, john kerry, will be intimately involved in trying to revive this israeli/palestinian peace process. he's traveling with the president right now, following the president's visit to jordan tomorrow. the secretary of state will be coming back. will this result, will this result in an actual round of
negotiations, direct negotiations, between the israelis and the palestinians? deplo gloria borger is watching what's going on. and one of the powerful statements he made is when he said, as long as there is a united states of america, he then said in hebrew, you are not alone. that was a powerful statement that israelis wanted to hear. >> right. and he said it a couple of times during the speech, wolf. and it created quite a stir in the audience. i mean, i think if there's any doubt among the american jewish community about the president's commitment to israel, after watching this speech, i think some feelings may be changed. what was interesting to me is the way he spoke to these young people in the audience, particularly after he was talking about a two-state solution. he said, and you know, this is familiar to those of us who have covered president obama during his political campaigns. he said to these young people,
you must create the change you want to see. and we've heard that before from the president in so many ways, wolf, when he campaigns. but he was effectively saying to these young people what he has said to young people in this country. if you want to see change in the way your world is developing, then you're the ones who have to do it. and i would also add, wolf, that i think he touched upon every sort of hot-button issue, syria, chemical weapons in syria, saying it wasn't going to be able to stand, iran. they must not get a nuclear weapon, period, and that all options are on the table. and of course, wolf, he spoke about peace, which is why he was talking to these young people. >> he certainly was. and as i said, this was a very, very powerful pro-peace speech. martin indek is joining us now. he serveds the ambassador to israel during the clinton administration back in the '90s. he's now the vice president director of the foreign policy
program at the brookings institution here in washington. he's joining us from new york. martin, i thought this was one of the most important speeches that an american president has ever delivered about the situation between the israelis and the palestinians. but give me your thoughts. >> i agree, wolf. you said it was bold. i would say it was courageous. not just in terms of making the case to the israeli public, that they do have a partner, that peace is possible, but actually urging them to pressure their leaders to move forward. he is famously being quoted before our elections as saying that he considered the leadership in israel as political cowards. he seems to be going over their heads to the israeli young people, trying to give them hope and trying to encourage them to press their leaders to make peace. and that is, i think, a very bold and courageous thing. but i would say one other thing. he, having tried to lower
expectations about this visit, has now raised them sky high in terms of the expectations that israelis and palestinians will have, that he, himself, is now going to work to make peace really possible. >> and that is the challenge. where do the israelis and the palestinians and the united states and others in the international community go from here? let's bring in dr. hanan, joining us from , what did you of what the president had to say? >> well, i do think that this was the most comprehensive speech we have heard. it has the same basic components, but on the one hand, it has a very clear geological component. i don't think i have heard an american president with such a strong commitment to the zionist ideology. and to an understanding of the
zionist ideology, and total identification and sympathy with them. so in a sense, he tried to gain his credentials, or establish his credential with the public and he did go over the head of the leadership, that is extremely hardline basis. and he tried to reach to the young generation, to the israeli public, to tell them that they have to influence their leadership. but at the same time, to do that, he had to tell them that he guaranteed their security, he guaranteed their future. they're going nowhere. the u.s. is there for them. the u.s. has their back, that this alliance between the u.s. goes beyond politics and security and so on, to geology and total identification. so it was in that sense, i think it was extremely emotional and ideological and identified with the israeli public and with the zionist version of reality. now, when it comes to the
palestinians, i think he tried to reach the israelis, that the occupation is viable, nor continued occupation, nor the expulsion of palestinians is possible. and the continued impunity of the israeli settlers, so he said that it is in the interest of israel and the security of israel to have a strong, viable, independent palestinian state. now, the interesting factor was the response of the young generation israeli, that i think they gave the loudest applause to the fact that the occupation cannot continue, to the fact that the palestinians need a strong, viable palestinian state, and they need rights. and therefore, in a sense, they are really exposing the fact that the position of the leadership, the strong position, anti-peace and for settlements and so on, is not a position shared at least by this public.
>> well said all around. i want to thank all of our analysts, our reporters, our guests. we're going to continue our special coverage, much more coming up throughout the day, certainly later today in "the situation room" as well. but right now, we want to turn to another important story unfolding in new york city. a very different story. there you see the mayor of new york, michael bloomberg. he's introducing the vice president of the united states, joe biden. they're getting ready to speak with representatives and family members from newtown, connecticut, on the sensitive issue of guns in america. let's listen in right now to the mayor. >> -- how hard it is for you to be with us today. i appreciate your courage and i think you bear testimony to the fact that this country has to do something. you're not here just for your loved ones. you're here for not only those who were killed, but those who were killed across this country. we have to pull together here and stop this carnage. there is a jewish proverb that
tells that remembrance is the secret of redemption. and the listen is if we ignore the horrors of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. but if we remember them and we learn from them, we can redeem ourselves from their grip. and that's why all of us are here today. because we believe that we have a responsibility to help free our country from the gun violence that takes lives and breaks hearts every single day, all year round. what happened at sandy hook elementary school sent a shock wave across the country. it gripped us especially hard, i think, because every parent thought, there but for the grace of god, go my children. in the days and weeks after the shootings, more and more people began demanding action in washington and our bipartisan coalition, mayors against illegal guns, helped to make sure their voices were heard. and i think it's fair to say those voices were heard. president obama and vice president biden put forward a comprehensive package of gun safety reforms, and we worked together to win support for it
in congress. we remain optimistic that congress will take action this spring when they come back from recess, because the american people could not be any clearer about where they stand. in a recent poll conducted by our mayor's coalition, we found that in 41 key congressional districts across the nation, 89% of likely voters approve of background checks for all gun sales, and 86% of voters approve such background checks and polls in a national cross-section of 21 states. and that's in line with other recent polls that have found that more than 90% of americans support background checks for all gun buyers. and polling overseen by republican frank luntz has found that 82% of gun owners, including 74% of national rifle association members, support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing a gun. there's no real debate among the american people. around the country, americans
understand that requiring a background check for every gun sale is just good, common sense. and some states are taking action, including new york, thanks to governor cuomo, and colorado, thanks to governor hickenlooper, who have seen such terrible mass murders. and in connecticut, governor malloy has proposed and legislators appear prepared to act on firearm safety reforms as well. they include making private gun sales subject to bkd cheackgrou checks, limiting the size of high-capacity ammunition magazines, and strengthening anti-gun trafficking measures. newtown families have played a big role in advancing this proposed legislation. they can speak from firsthand pain. but such state action is not enough. there is a national problem, because guns sold in states with weak gun laws are all too often found crossing state lines and are used to commit crimes elsewhere. so we really need national leadership in washington if
we're going to stop the scourge. thankfully, there has been some encouraging progress. for example, last week, the senate judiciary committee voted in favor of a number of >>s, including a measure to expand background checks to private gun sales, which is how some 40% of gun purchases in the nation are made. more than 6.5 million gun sales during 2012, alone. there is no question that if this becomes law, it will keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them. it will reduce violent crime. it will save lives. we know that's true, because in states that already require background checks on private sales, the rate of women murdered by an intimate partner armed with a gun is 38% lower than in states that don't have such background checks. the rate of firearm suicide is 49% low peer. and the rate of firearm assaults, including attempted murders, is 17% lower.
there's no doubt requiring background checks for all gun sales saves lives and there's no doubt that the american people support it. the only question is whether congress will have the courage to do the right thing or whether they will allow more innocent people, including innocent children, to be gunned down. it has been 97 days since newtown. in that time, we estimate that more than 3,000 americans have been murdered with guns. almost none of the victims generated national headlines, but each murder was a tragedy for the victim's family and for the community. if congress does nothing, another 12,000 people will be murdered with guns this year alone. we just cannot let that happen. and it's up to us, all of us, to convince members of congress that it's in everyone's interests to act now. now, before i turn the floor over to the vice president, let me just say that there's no better person to be leading this effort in washington than vice
president biden. when he was in the senate, he was a leader in getting the original background check bill through congress and in drafting the original assault weapons ban. and even though restrictions on military-style weapons will not be part of the bill that goes to the floor of the u.s. senate, he will get a vote by the full senate as an amendment to the bill. and everyone's going to have to stand up and say, yay or nay and then the rest of us have to decide just how we feel about people and their stands. we will do everything to win support for it and i know the white house will be doing everything that they can too. and we're going to continue giving the vice president all the support we can and we thank him for his leadership and for coming here to stand with us today. mr. vice president? >> thank you, mr. mayor. let me begin saying that there has been no support that has been more consequential than the support coming from mayor bloomberg. it has been immense and it is
organized, it is committed, and it is consequential. and let me start my saying that i was told in 1992 when i introduced many of these reforms that there was no way you'd ever beat the gun lobby. it's not possible. well, in 1994, we did. in 1994, reason prevailed and we passed the assault weapons ban, a limitation on the size of magazines and a number of other measures, including expanding the so-called brady bill and background checks. and one thing i want to lay to rest at the outset, they worked. they all had an positive impact on public safety. they all had a positive impact on public safety. i did an interview yesterday saying, well, the impact on each one was only this, that, or the other. i said, that's like saying we
shouldn't have taken lead out of gasoline because it didn't end global warming. it had a positive impact. it wasn't the whole answer. combined, these are common sense approaches that ironically, mr. mayor, in the polling data we've done recently, the american people already think that these gun safety proposals are in place. the american people, a significant number, already think there are universal background checks. they already think that anyone bias multiple guns has to be reported. they already think -- i mean, if you just go down the list. so the irony here is what we're proposing is simply common sense, that the american people, in addition to the polls that the mayor cited, which i was going to mention and will not repeat, in addition to that polling data, there is polling underneath it that says, but, guess what, we think you've already done that. so this is -- and there's not one single thing being proposed,
not one, not one, not one that infringes on anyone's second amendment constitutional right. not one. and so, i would like to take a moment at the outset to not only thank the mayor, but thank the people standing behind me. it's presumptuous to say, but we've actually became good acquaintances and friends. we've met many times so far. and i want to tell you or emphasize what the mayor said. and i know you know it, but it bears repeating. it takes an enormous amount of courage to be here. and you say, well, what's the courage? well, having lost a child, i understand that every time you show up at something, ranging from a memorial service or to talk about the circumstance under which your child was lost, it comes back to you in a flash, as if they got that phone call yesterday. and i've done told you before, i don't know how you do it, but you do it. you do it. and you're one of the reasons why all these pieces of legislation passed through the
judiciary committee and why we have a fighting chance. and so, you know, when you think about grace and jessie and these two beautiful little babies, that's what they were, they were beautiful little babies, and lauren, who was not really a teacher. this is a woman who, if this happened on a battlefield, she'd get a commendation. she'd be getting, literally, not figuratively. she'd be getting a commendation for her bravery in trying to protect her comrades, in this case, trying to protect these little angels. three months ago, a deranged man walked into sandy hook elementary school with a weapon of war. that's what he walked in with. with a weapon of war. and that weapon of war has no place on american streets. and taking it off america's streets has no impact on one's constitutional right to own a
weapon. no less than justice scalia in the last decision acknowledged that the government has a right to limit certain weapons from being able to be possessed by american citizens. this is not a constitutional issue. if you notice, when the ban was in place last time, there was not a constitutional challenge that went anywhere to the existence of the ban. so let's get this straight. this is not about anybody's constitutional right to own a weapon. for all those who say we shouldn't and can't been assault weapons, for all those who say the politics is just too hard, how can they say that? when you take a look at those 20 beautiful babies and what happened to them, and those six teachers and administrators. so this same young man, he not only came loaded and armed with an assault weapon, a weapon of war, he came loaded with one
30-round magazine after another. one after another. an estimated 150 bullets were fired by this young man. and the police responded in 2 responded in two and one-half minutes. as my friends behind me did, i met with those state police officers. i met with them. i met with them privately. all you had to do was look in their eyes and see the vacant stare of how fundamentally impacted they were. they were impacted. some of them needing some help. and tell me that you can't take off the street these weapons of war? for all those who say we shouldn't or couldn't ban high capacity magazines, i just ask them one question, think about newtown. think about newtown.
think about how many of these children or teachers may be alive today had he had to reload three times as many times as he did. think about what happened out in where gabby giffords, my good friend, was shot and medical reportly wounded. think about when that young man had to try to change the clip. had he only had a ten-round clip when he changed the clip and fumbled and had it knocked out of his hands, how many more people would have been alive? and tell me, tell me how it violates anyone's constitutional right to be limited to a clip that holds ten rounds instead of 30, or in aurora a hundred. this is a false choice that's being presented to the american people by those who are taking on our position here. look, folks, we have a responsibility to act.
a lot of these voices have to be for those beautiful babies. the loudest voice have to be for those silenced voices. close to 3,000 since newtown gunned down on american streets and homes and neighborhoods. you know, it's time for the political establishment to show the courage your daughter showed. and it doesn't take one tenth the courage your daughter is living -- i'll say to one of the men you're about to hear from, you know, it must be awful being in public office and concluding that even though you might believe you should take action, that you can't take action because of a political consequence you face. what a heck of a way to make a living. i mean that sincerely.
what a heck of a way to have to act. the message i want to get across, mr. mayor, is the risk does not exist as it's exaggerated today because the vast majority of the american people -- the vast majority of gun owners, the vast majority, even close to majority of nra members who only represent 4 million of the gun owners in america think what the mayor's been pushing and what the president has proposed is just simple common sense. it will not solve every problem. it will not end every gun death, but it will substantially reduce it. and it matters. it matters. even if one of the people standing behind me, even if one of their children were alive because of what we've done. these are common sense proposals. we're talking about banning assault weapons, limiting high
capacity magazines, passing real universal background checks, gun trafficking legislation will allow the police the opportunity to be able to deal more rationally with straw sales, those sales where people go in and buy multiple guns and sell them to the bad guys. mental health -- a significant commitment to mental health and school safety. one of the reasons why the mayor has been so successful in this town is not only his innovation but you have a whole hell of a lot of cops. that's the reason the cops matter. so-called biden crime book put the cops on the street. there's 30,000 badges sitting in a drawer today because of the economic difficulty of localities as a consequence of the recession. we propose adding back another 1,500 of them. doesn't move at all -- excuse me 15,000 of them, but cops matter. they matter. so there's no one thing we can
do, but i'm absolutely confident and i'm not going to rest and nor is the president until we do all of these things, all of these things. enhance the safety of the american people and do not diminish one iota, not one iota, any constitutionally guaranteed right of any american. thank you, mr. mayor. >> mr. vice president, i think you've spoken for the whole country and i think you and the president should be congratulated to have the courage to stand up and i thought you couldn't be more right when you said in the end what congress has to decide is it politically popular or is it what in their hearts they know is the right thing to do. we all grew up learning the lesson we are on this earth together, we have to protect each other. we certainly have to protect our fellow citizens and our families. and the ways to do that is to do what the supreme court has said is perfectly consistent with the
second amendment that the vice president and i and all elected officials i suppose are charged with protecting. and that is continue to have people to have the right to bear arms but to do it responsibly, not to put weapons of war which should only be handled by trained military personnel on the battlefield in the hands of the people in the streets, that doesn't protect anybody. that just leads to disaster. and making sure that people who are minors, have criminal records, substance abuse problems or psychiatric problems don't get their hands on guns because they just are not suitable to people to have arms and to use them responsibly which the vast bulk of gun owners do. and which the vast bulk of gun dealers want them to do as a matter of fact. let me invite a few of the guests from newtown to speak.
first, chris and lynn mcdonald for joining us today. thank you. would you say a few words? >> what matters is people, leaders with moral courage. lynn and i want to thank you, vice president biden and you mayor bloomberg. we are strengthened by your resolve and deeply appreciative of your commitment for action to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. >> thank you. we were not experts on gun safety before the shootings in newtown, and we do not presume to be experts now. but we do know about law. and we feel an immense sense of responsibility to our daughter grace to try and