Deutch Remarks from First Hearing on Gun Violence in Nearly a Decade
Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-22) participated in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, a first of its kind in nearly a decade.
"Today, the House Judiciary Committee is finally holding a hearing on gun violence—a crisis that kills 40,000 Americans every year," said Congressman Deutch. "And what I want to ask my Republican colleagues, is it still too soon? Is it too soon to talk about taking action to stop gun violence? Because that’s what I heard after Marjory Stoneman Douglas. But it was already too late."
Congressman Deutch's constituent, Aalayah Eastmond, a survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy on February 14, 2018, testified before the committee.
A transcript of the Congressman's remarks are below. Video of his remarks can be viewed here.
I thank the Chairwoman. I thank our witnesses for being here. I thank Mike Thompson and Robin Kelly for their leadership.
I want to start this morning by recognizing my constituents from Parkland who are in the hearing room today.
Tony and Jennifer Montalto, Gina's parents.
April Schentrup and Robert Schentrup, Carmen's mother and brother.
Debbi Hixon, Chris Hixon’s wife.
Tom and Gena Hoyer, Luke Hoyer’s parents.
Mitch Dworet, Nicholas Dworet's father.
Manuel Oliver, father of Joaquin.
And Fred Guttenberg, Jaime's father.
I also want to recognize the families of:
And Peter Wang.
They are the surviving families of the 14 students and 3 adults who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas nearly one year ago – on February 14, 2018.
Their pain and their loss is real, and it is immeasurable, because their loved ones were gunned down. And it does not matter where that shooter was born.
I want to recognize them today because in the year since that awful day, they have done everything that they can to make American communities safer from gun violence. Each family in its own way:
To improve law enforcement response to warning signs,
To get weapons of war off our streets,
To expand access to mental health,
To develop safer schools,
To demand background checks on all gun purchases,
To stand up to gun corporations that control state legislatures and Washington to protect their profits and not protect American lives.
The Parkland families have done all of this in response to their grief.
They never signed up for this.
They would do anything to change this.
They don’t owe us their service and advocacy.
They don’t owe us anything.
Congress failed them.
We didn’t do our job.
Today, the House Judiciary Committee is finally holding a hearing on gun violence—a crisis that kills 40,000 Americans every year.
And what I want to ask my Republican colleagues, is it still too soon? Is it too soon to talk about taking action to stop gun violence?
Because that’s what I heard after Marjory Stoneman Douglas. But it was already too late.
As we start this important work, Madame Chair, I ask unanimous consent to enter statements into the record from Fred Guttenberg, Tony Montalto and Stand With Parkland, Patricia and Manuel Oliver and Change the Ref, and March For Our Lives.
Aalayah, thank you for being here. Your classroom was attacked at MSD, but at March For Our Lives on March 24, you spoke to hundreds of thousands, over one million people in DC and at other events around the world, and you said:
“I’m not only here to speak about school shootings. I’m hear to speak for the urban communities who have been speaking out about this way before February 14th.”
Student-survivors like yourself, and like the March For Our Lives advocates, have been some of the strongest voices for change. Over the past year you’ve met with young people from around the country. Tell us what you've learned in the meetings and the discussions and the friendships you've developed in places like Miami, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and cities that face daily gun violence?
They are, Aalayah, and thank you for using your voice to help lift up the voices of so many.
Madame Chairman, after February 14th, the Florida legislature passed bills to increase the minimum age for rifle purchases to 21 and passed Extreme Risk Protection Orders.
States and local governments all around the country have taken action. Finally, finally, the House of Representatives is about to act.
Aalayah, you said during your testimony, you said, "I ask that you give my generation a chance." The important message today, as I see it from this seat looking out at this crowd, is that you don't need to ask for us to give you a chance. Your leadership, and the young people who are here today and who have been energized around the country, are providing the leadership that is making this happen.
We're going to pass background checks because it's supported by over 90% of the American people and it can help save a life.
And it's true, Chief. If only one life is saved, that's enough for me. And it darn well ought to be enough for every single member of this Congress. And when we finish our work today, what the young people should know - and I'll wrap up, Madame Chairman - what the people here today in this crowd should know, is that just as they're not going anywhere and will remain on this issue, in this fight because it is the fight for their lives. We will not stop either. Thank you Madame Chairman.