Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Remarks at Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Forum on the Urgent Need for Senate Action

September 10, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman Mike Thompson, Members of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, House Democrats and gun violence prevention advocates for a Forum on the Urgent Need for Senate Action.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi. Thank you very much, Mr. Thompson, for your leadership.  I am very honored to join you and our distinguished panel today for the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. 

Oh, I see – thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I am pleased to join you and the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force forum on the ‘Urgent Need for Senate Action.’

This forum is distinguished by the presence of so many leaders.  I join you in welcoming our distinguished panel, including survivors, student leaders, veterans and respected representatives of our law enforcement and public health communities. 

We also give you another salute, Chairman Mike Thompson, for the outstanding lead in this fight to end the gun violence epidemic. You have been on both sides of the barrel as a veteran, a decorated war hero and as a sportsman. 

During the District Work Period, Democrats accelerated a drumbeat across America, holding weeks of town hall meetings and events to urge Senator McConnell to take up our House-passed, bipartisan gun violence prevention legislation, which saves lives. 

Over the past six weeks, our nation has been in mourning, the tragic loss of life from the recent acts of gun violence, including in Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, Chicago and West Texas, and we have representatives here from other tragic events as well. 

We also know that gun violence inflicts a daily, devastating toll on communities, in addition to these high-profile events, in every corner of our country, cutting short the lives of a hundred people including 47 children and teenagers every single day.  That is nearly 40,000 people killed every year – 40,000 of our brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, our neighbors and friends.

We know what must be done.  More than 90 percent of the American people support commonsense background check legislation.  Background checks work.  They have blocked more than three million gun sales since first passed – blocked three, more than three million gun sales since first passed.

Yet, new technologies have enabled efforts to circumvent the laws.  Countless millions of guns are sold or transferred through unlicensed dealers today.  No background checks completed.  No questions asked.

That is why one of the first acts of our Democratic House Majority was to pass the Bipartisan Background Check Bill [H.R.] 8, so-named because of the eight years from the, when we introduced it, from the tragedy in Tucson when our former colleague – well, then our colleague, Gabby Giffords was injured as others died.

In addition, we passed the Enhanced Background Checks [Act], Mr. Clyburn’s legislation.  He can’t be here today because of an illness in the family, but I do want to salute Mr. Clyburn for H.R. 1112 – commonsense background legislation to expand background checks in terms of the time involved.

Public health officials, local leaders and law enforcement know that our legislation would save lives.  We’ve had many letters and testimonials to that effect.  I will cite one.

Last month, the President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, representing America’s police chiefs, wrote to the President and to Congress urging us in these words: ‘In no uncertain terms, to immediately act by enacting commonsense legislation to reduce the scourge of everyday gun violence and the slaughter of innocent people during what feels like a never-ending mass shooting events in our schools, entertainment venues, places of worship, businesses and homes.’

They go on to say – the letter goes on to say, ‘These tragic incidents are profoundly plaguing our nation, cutting short precious human lives, and tearing out the hearts and souls of countless families. … The nearly 800,000 men and women in law enforcement in the United States don a badge each day placed over their heart representing their dedication and commitment to run toward danger whenever and wherever called upon to do so.’

The letter goes on to say, ‘They are doing their part every day, every shift and on every call for help.  Will you do your part?’ they ask us.

Yes, we will do our part.  Yet, Senator McConnell refuses to do his part to save lives. 

No one’s political survival is more important than the survival of our children.  Thousands of people, thousands of children, have died since Senator McConnell first refused to take up our bills.

We will fight on every front, in the courts, in the Congress and in the court of public opinion, to make sure this issue is too hot to handle for the GOP to block.

We are not taking no for an answer for our bipartisan legislation.  We won’t stop until the job is done.

Thank you all for your leadership in this fight.

I welcome you Madam Mayor.  Thank you for your courage.

To each of our special witnesses, we look forward to your testimony.

And, I yield back to our distinguished Chairman, Mr. Thompson.