U.S. Senate Sen. Schumer Cornyn on Guns CSPAN September 10, 2019 12:36pm-1:06pm EDT
short video documentary, include c-span video and reflect dufring points of view. information to help you get started is on our website. studentcam.org. senate minority leader chuck schumer and majority whip john cornyn yesterday came to the floor to discuss gun violence legislation and background checks. here's a look at their remarks. >> one issue of particular importance looms on this upcoming senate work period, that is gun safety. in the months of august, more than 50 mernz americans were killed in last shootings. the latest barrage in litany of mass shootings that have become all too rue seen in our country. to say nothing of the american lives lost in everyday gun violence in our community. it's on the minds of the american people. i was at the airport, someone i didn't know, grabbed my arm and he said, senator, do something about gun violence. i lost my nephew to gun violence
last year. it's on so many people's minds. that's why our first order of business in the senate should be to take action on hr-8, the house passed bipartisan background checks act. we must grapple with the stark reality that gun violence is becoming an all-too routine occurrence and that we in congress have both the ability and responsibility to do something about it. hr-8 is the most common sense way for the senate to save american lives. it's bipartisan. it has already passed the house. and as a matter of policy, it's absolutely necessary to close the loopholes in our background check system in order to make other gun laws effective. we can and should pass a very strong red flag law. but what good would a red flag law do if someone were adjudicat adjudicated, unable to get a
gun, could go online and get that gun without a check at all? if you don't have background checks, bad people will get guns, felons, spousal abusers, those mentally ill and those will get red flags. so, it's critical we pass a universal background check law and close the loopholes. that we do everything we can to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands in the first place. background checks must be the base, the foundation we start from when we talk about gun safety legislation. just look at the case of the shooter in odessa, texas, who reportedly failed a background check in 2014 but was able to purchase a firearm through a private sale with no background check. this is one of the loopholes that the bipartisan background checks act would close. and these loopholes were never intended. i was the author of the brady law. i'm proud of it.
it saved tens of thousands of lives back in 1994 when i was a house member and the chair of the subcommittee. back then there was no internet. when the -- when some gun advocates said here, exempt gun show loopholes. gun shows were simply a place to show antique guns. your 1938 derringer. now they are the loopholes that felons and other people who shouldn't have guns seek to use to get guns. so, we got to close these loopholes. it's not doing anything more to take away the rights of legitimate american citizens who want to bear arms, something i believe in. than it was when it passed. it's just closing loopholes as time has evolved. now, there are two people in
washington to make this legislation, which would greatly reduce gun violence pass. leader mcconnell and president trump. leader mcconnell have the power to make sure this legislation passes this body or to make sure that it doesn't pass. it's in their hands. the republican leader determines the senate's business. after the shootings in el paso and dayton, we demanded the leader call the senate back into session so we could respond to the crisis. he refused. maybe he hoped the scenes of violence would fade from the minds of the public and the issue would fizzle out. well, that's certainly want happened. and democrats won't let it happen. unfortunately, the increased frequency in mass shootings won't let it happen either. as democrats return to washington, we carry with us the frustration of americans who demand action but have seen far
too little. these are demands of democrats and republicans, people north, east, south and west, men and women, people from urban areas, suburban areas and rural areas. and so with their importuding in mind, we'll make sure the issue of gun safety remains front and center for the next three weeks and beyond until meaningful change is achieved. by contrast, leader mcconnell did not even mention gun violence in his opening remarks today. after promising we would have a debate in the senate when we returned. we await word from the leader when that debate might take place. one thing we do know is that leader mcconnell has said the question of background checks will come down to president trump. if the president took a position on a bill leader mcconnell said, i'd be happy to put it on the floor. that's what he said.
those are his words. if that's the case, the president has an historic opportunity to save lives by signaling his support for the house-passed background checks bill. so far he's been all over the lot. the president told me he's going to get the strongest possible bill but has not committed to what he might support and then in future days seems to have backed off that statement. that's why speaker pelosi and i sent president trump a letter today urging him to support hr-8, the universal background check bill, and to make his position public. president trump can lead his party to do something that the nra has long prevented republicans from doing by providing these republicans cover on the republican president's support. president trump, please read our letter. support the bipartisan universal background checks bill. it's common sense. it's enormously popular with the
public. 93% popular even with republicans and gun owners. and above all, it would save american lives. maybe that man at the airport, i don't know his name or where he was from, would not have to come up to me and tell me his nephew died of gun violence if we had passed some of these laws. the time to act is now. before more lives are lost. the pressure is on president trump and leader mcconnell to act. i yield the floor. >> senator from texas. >> president came to the floor and heard the democratic leader talking, obviously, about some terrible incidents that occurred in el paso, dayton and now in
odessa. since we were here last in session we've had two shootings. one in el paso and one in odessa. and i will confess these are terrible tragedies that force us to first ask the question why and then cause us to ask the question what? what can and what should we do to try to stop incidents like these in the future? i'll remind the democratic leader, we actually have a great template for bipartisan support for gun safety legislation. which is a bill we sent to the president last year called fix nics. if you were convicted of a felony or dishonorably
discharged from the military or subject to a protective order or you've been committed as a result of a mejs health crisis, all of these under existing law prohibit you from purchasing or possessing a firearm. but if the background check system doesn't work, it doesn't really count for much. and i'm proud of the fact that we came together on a bipartisan basis and passed this legislation by overwhelming margins. and so anybody suggesting we simply haven't done anything has a faulty memory. at the very minimum. i would also add we passed legislation that would enhance school safety. one of the problems is these cowards that commit these terrible acts, they don't go shoot up police stations. they go to the soft targets like
the schools. and no parent should send their child to school wondering if they're going to be safe from attacks like we've seen occur, like santa fe independent school district in texas. we passed bipartisan legislation to deal with that as best we could. we also have recognized many of the people who commit these acts are a danger to themselves and others pause of a mental health crisis. and in the 21st century cures bill, a broad bipartisan bill, we passed legislation that provides for piloting of assisted outpatient treatment. the reason why that's so important is because if you're dealing with an adult, an adult child, an adult spouse, obviously, or an adult -- or a parent, there's very little you can do to make them follow their doctor's orders or get the kind
of treatment they need to take their medication. but as a result of assisted outpatient treatment orders, a family member or law enforcement or a health -- mental health professional can petition the court for a court order requiring people to comply with their doctor's orders to show up for their appointments and to take their medication. and they've reaped tremendous benefits around the country protecting people from themselves when they're in a mental health crisis and protecting other people. from potential acts of violence that they might commit. it's not true that people who are mentally ill are somehow more prone to violence, but certainly when they lose control of themselves and they're in a mental health crisis, they can be a danger to themselves and others. so, this assisted outpatient treatment, pilot program that we pioneered in the 21st century cures act, i think, provides another tool. then we provided law enforcement
with additional training. that's where the active shooter training came from. actually pioneered down in san marcus, texas, at texas state university, where they train law enforcement not to sit on the perimeter while the shooting goes on inside a building but to attack the shooter where they are, but also we went one step further to make sure not only can we stop the shooter, we can actually save lives and keep people from bleeding to death. by training emergency medical personnel to follow the police into an active shooting scene to save lives. now, part of the problem with discussing this topic is there's just a lot of mythology out there. i heard my friend, the democratic leader saying, if we just pass another background check system, maybe dayton or el paso would not have happened.
well, boat th of those shooters passed a background check. are you suggesting we ought to pass a law just to pretend we're doing something but we're actually not have a positive impact on saving lives? that's not what we did in the fix nics bill. as you may recall, the particular shooter there was disqualified from purchasing firearms but the air force had not uploaded that -- his felony conviction for domestic violence into the background check system. so, when he went in to buy a firearm, it didn't catch him. he was able to lie and then buy. and i'm proud to say that as a result of this bipartisan legislation we've passed, there have been a 400% increase in the federal government's providing additional background check information into the national instant criminal background
check. i think it's safe to say as a result of the bipartisan legislation we passed working together that lives will be saved. that's what we ought to benic s and that is what we ought to be about and not show votes or political posturing. we ought to be about solving the problem and let's be clear, and get the facts right first. the democratic leaders have mentioned odessa. well, it is true that the shooter in odessa did have a mental health commitment, and he tried to get to buy a gun through traditional means and he failed a background check, so he was not successful. and while the details are still being investigated, it looks like he purchased a firearm from an unlicensed firearm dealer which is a crime. and if the dealer sold the firearm to the shooter knowing that he was disqualified from
purchasing or buying a firearm, that is another crime. so trying to suggest that some sort of additional background check would have solved that problem when what the dealer did and the purchaser did were already illegal, i just don't think holds up. so i look forward to continued discussion and debate on this topic. it is on the mind of an awful lot of people as i traveled across my state, the state of texas, this august as we all did in the august work period. but i always benefit from going back home and getting refreshed by the thoughts, the ideas and the aspirations of real people and instead of living here inside of this fantasy land known as washington, d.c. i always tell people that washington is a fascinating
place to visit. it is like disneyland, but just remember one thing, it is not real. what is real are the people that we represent back home and in the what the laboratories of democracy produce, and including the states, including the great state of texas. i also travel back home and enjoy sharing the updates of what we have been working on here in washington and seeing how the legislation that we have passed can make a difference back home. one example is a program authorized by a law that i introduced called the project safe neighborhoods which is now the law of the land. it is a bill i introduced which is now the law. i invited attorney general barr to come the dallas, texas, to hear how this initiative has already begun driving down the crime rates in a couple of our communities in dallas. this program partners with local, state and federal law
enforcement officials together with federal prosecutors to target violent offenders and people who have no legal right to possess a firearm and who use firearms routinely in committing the crimes and targeting those offenders and engaging with the community and thus help create safer neighborhoods, and it is already having a positive impact in communities across my state, and i am eager to see the long-term benefits of this incredible program. in austin, i visited the university of texas in august and met with student veterans who are reaping the benefits of the bill that we passed this last summer called the veteran s.t.e.m. act. and of course, s.t.e.m. is science, technology, electronics
and math. and so this is to help veterans purs pursue s.t.e.m. degrees. so with this, more students are able to continue their education with less stress, and the professor vinvas of the three programs that the veterans could qualify for using the g.i. bill, and i think that he said that the number they qualified were 28 or maybe 29, and multiple what they qualified for under existing law. so this small change is going to make a big difference. i enjoyed hearing from the students who are using the g.i. bill benefits about the career gel goals and look forward to seeing all they will accomplish. in addition to those meetings and those visits i attended a ribbon cutting of the brand-new business in san angelo, texas, and i spoke with survivors of
sexual assault in grapevine about the need to pass the debbie smith act and to reauthorize the money that we authorized to test back dated rape kits, and we also discussed the usmca, the united states, mexico and canada agreement and the successor of nafta. it was productive and, maed ma a number of heartbreaking moments. on august 3rd a gunman stormed into walmart in texas killing 22 innocent people and wounding two dozen others. it became the deadliest mass shooting in the united states this year. in a community as tight-knit as el paso, the devastation was immeasurable, and i would note that the shooter traveled from
another part of the state to el paso, and he was not from el paso, but the heartbreaking confusion quickly turned into rage when we learned that the shoot shooter was a white supremacist and his crime could only be described as domestic terrorism. the day after the shooting i traveled to el paso and met with the victims as well as the law enforcement officers responding to the tragedy. the members of the community created a memorial to honor those who lost their lives and on the first day it was relatively small. about four feet wide, and by the time i returned to el paso with president trump and the first lady three days later, this four-feet wide memorial had grown to hundreds of feet wide. the outpouring by the community was overwhelming. in the face of tragedy and unthinkable grief, the strength
and support of the entire community from that memorial to the long line of folks waiting to donate blood to the donations to help the victims was truly remarkable. but as i also indicated at the beginning of my remarks less than a month later, we experienced another shooting. a man went on a shooting ram pain between midland and odessa killing seven people, and wounding 25 others. when i visited odessa this last week, i met odessa police officer james santana who was injured in the shoot, but fortunately expected to make a full recovery. when i asked the police chief or excuse me, yeah, the police chief in ecter county, what might we do in washington to help, and he said, well, we don't have adequate resources to help those who are suffering
with a mental health crisis. that is maybe one area. and i had the pleasure of thanking the men and women in blue, our law enforcement officers for their quick response in odessa and thanked them for the work they did everyday and by the way, i also had the opportunity to travel to the white house this morning, and president trump gave an award to the police officers in dayton, ohio, who were able to stop the shooter there and offered certificates of commendation to some of the employees at walmart who helped to save lives in the shooting episode there. while major events like these are ones that grab the headlines, texas law enforcement officials and officials all over the country are on the streets each and every day doing everything they can, that they can possibly do to help keep the
community safe. i think it is negligence on our part to not continue to thank these men and women and especially those who have responded to tragedies like el paso, midland and odessa. as our state continues to grieve from this senseless loss of life, the question is of course, how did this happen? how can we present it from happening again? well, i know that we are going to try just as we have done in the past to try to identify gaps and problems with the law and fill those gaps and save lives in the process. if i knew how we could pass a law here that would prevent people from committing crimes, we would pass it unanimously. but unfortunately, that is not the human condition. i have been speaking with my constituents as well as colleagues here in the senate over the last few weeks about what legislative solutions might look like, and i do expect us to
have a wide-ranging debate on the subject in the coming days. i just spoke to a representative at the white house, and they say they are putting together a set of proposals to provide the president later this week, and we look forward to hearing what the president believes these proposals should consist of. again, i think that the model that we used after the southerland springs shooting in 2017 was a pretty good one where we introduced a bill to improve the background check system and to prevent the people who should not be able to purchase a firearm from doing so, and we passed the legislation on a broad bipartisan basis, and had that legislation passed sooner, it could have prevented the southerland springs gunman from acquiring the weapon in the first place by lying on his background check system.
knowing perhaps that the united states air force had not uploaded his conviction for domestic violence into the background check system, and so he was able to get away with it. these are the kinds of reforms that we should be looking at. real solutions to real problems. we owe it for the american people to focus on making changes that will actually work, not show votes and not talking poi points. we ought to be about trying to solve this problem. the american people are smart, mr. president. they can see what is happening up here when we resort to the same old tired talking points and are not really engaged in trying to find solutions, they see through it. we owe it to them, and owe it to ourselves and owe it to people who might otherwise become future victims to do everything they can to provide the tools to law enforcement to try to prevent as many of the deaths as
we can. and in the case of the fix nics act, it was able to become law because it had broad support from the republicans and the democrats and the president. and this is going to guide my approach. i am not interested in scoring political points or introducing bills or pat ourselves on the back to run the next campaign on it. i am interested in actually trying to solve the problem and save lives in the process. and that is what we did on the fix nics act. the bleeders made it clear that if there is a proposal out there to meet the same criteria, we will consider it on the floor of the senate. he has asked us to come together and figure out what this legislation would look like. and while there is certainly differences on both sides of the aisle about what we should do, i hope that all of us can remember we share a common goal of stopping these mass shootings to the extent that we humanly can.
again, if we knew how the pass a law to prevent people from committing crimes, again, we would have already done that. so we may not be able to do that, but we sure can make some progress, and hopefully save some lives in the process. there are a lot of discussions about the ways to do that and i'm hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon. we cannot allow these acts of violence to somehow become the new normal. so, as we are keeping the victims and the families and the dedicated law enforcement officers impacted by the shooting in our prayers, we owe it to all of them and to ourselves to work on solutions to prevent more communities from experiencing these types of tragedies. mr. president, i yield the floor. today, president trump tweet tad he asked national security adviser john bolton to resign
saying that -- >> watch coverage at 3:30 p.m. from the memorial plaza in new york city, and the reading of the names and the ridging of the bell. at 9:00 a.m. on c-span, a wreath-laying ceremony and live coverage of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on c-span, c-span3 and online at cspan.org or listen live on the free c-span radio app. today, president trump tweeted that he asked national adviser john bolton to resign saying that he had strongly disagreed with his suggestions as did others in the administration. the president says that he gave the resignation letter this morning and he is going to be announcing his replacement next week. today, the how judiciary committee convenes to consider a number of gun violence
prevention bills and watch live at 2:00 p.m. on c-span3 or online at cspan.org or listen free on the c-span radio app. senate minority leader chuck schumer and house speaker nancy pelosi held a briefing on gun violence and urged house leader mitch mcconnell to bring up a background check bill. this briefing is just under a half hour. >> here we go. here we go right here. >> okay. welcome. >> good to see you. >> okay. let's get started. i am very proud to be joined i am proud to be joined by of course my friend and colleague speaker pelosi, major nan