Speaker Nancy Pelosi

U.S. House of Representatives

Pelosi Remarks at Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Forum on the Impact of Gun Violence on Children and the Need for a Senate Vote on Universal Background Checks

September 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined Chairman Mike Thompson, the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, House Democrats and gun violence prevention advocates for a ‘Forum on the Impact of Gun Violence on Children and the Need for a Senate Vote on Universal Background Checks.’  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:

Speaker Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. 

Your work as Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force and the distinguished leadership that you have attracted – your Co-Chairs and other Members are making a difference in our country.  90 percent of American people support H.R. 8, our commonsense background check legislation, and I appreciate the testimony of witnesses today.

My apologies for not being here at the start.  I – the Speaker has to open the House at twelve o’clock, noon – that’s a time certain – and greet our visiting chaplain.  But, I have read your testimony, Mr. Wintemute, and I appreciate what you said in there: ‘Mass shootings are changing the character of America’s public life.’  Thank you for framing it in that way as we challenge the Congress and the President to do more.

I did hear Ms. Pilpot’s testimony and I – so sad that you lost friends, five friends – maybe more in terms of injuries, but five friends. 

And, this is – Mr. Thompson’s focus has been on protecting the children, hence the name: ‘Impact of Gun Violence on Children and the Need to Pass Universal Background Checks.’  He is joined in that by Congresswoman Kelly, who has been a champion on saying, while our hearts break and we mourn and we want to act upon the high-profile events that have taken lives in our country, we must remember that every single day in our cities and across the country, we lose young people to gun violence.

I thank Mr. Phillips – a newlywed up here – taking the time.  He was just married this weekend, but this was very important for him to be here.

Bobby Rush has been – a victim of gun violence in his own family.

The list goes on from all of our distinguished Members.  We consider this of the highest priority.

I also want to acknowledge the work that Mr. McMurrey talked about to ‘ensure domestic tranquility.’  Yesterday was the birthday of our Constitution – yesterday was the birthday of its ratification.  And in it, as you know, as you quote in the beautiful Preamble: ‘to ensure domestic tranquility and provide for the common defense.’  That’s our purpose.  Let’s get it done.  I thank you for that.

And, also, Ms. Boggs, thank you.  Yes, we did call upon the President to call upon the Senate to come back in the summer and pass H.R. 8.  Our House Members were prepared to mark up bills in Committee until the Floor – the hurricanes came on the East Coast.  So, now they have already marked them up first thing – the first priority back.  So, thank you to the PTA for what you’re saying. 

And, the question we are asking today: do our elected officials, including our President, value our nation’s children?  On that, families and children, let me just say this – Sunday marked 200 days since we sent the legislation, H.R. 8, to the President of the United – excuse me, to Mitch McConnell, to the Senate.

So, Leader Schumer and I called the President on Sunday and we said, ‘200 days, 100 people a day on average, 47 of them are teenagers.  Please encourage the Republican Leadership in the Senate to take up this bill and sign this legislation to save lives.’

Since it was Sunday, I said to the President, as always, ‘I pray for you. I pray for your family, your safety.  And, I also pray that your heart will be open to saving – to protecting the families, other families in America, other children in America whose lives are at stake – at risk in the – cultural change that we have in our country.’ 

So, that’s why I was so pleased to see the Major Cities Chiefs [of Police] Association, your testimony here today, Colonel, but also, the letter that you sent earlier so that we could say that law enforcement, teachers, health care providers, the PTA, young people, doctors, health care providers – as I mentioned – all support this measure.  Gun owners, 90 percent – 90 percent.

The President’s – you know, some of his advisors say, ‘Well, you know, it’s going to hurt politically.’  There isn’t – one survival of one political person is not worth the survival of our children and they have to know that. 

So, I thank you all for your testimony. 

What I told the President is – he’s going to let us know what he decides – I said, but you understand, we’re not going away.  We’re not going away until the job is done.  We are going to kick open that door with H.R. 8 and 1112, the timing issue, and there are more things we are going to do.  But, what will save the most lives, in the shortest period of time, right now, is to pass H.R. 8 and 1112 and we hope that the President will give a positive sign to doing that.

But, understand your power, your testimony supports – one of you said, ‘I’m tired of’ – was it you, Mr. McMurrey, about hopes and prayers and whatever?  Mr. Thompson has declared himself, a very prayerful and thoughtful person that he is – we have to act and we cannot use hopes and prayers as any excuse for not acting. 

So, thank you for the generosity of spirit, for taking the time to make the case – to strengthen the case.  And, I thank the Chairman for his distinguished service and I yield back my time.