10/21/2014

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Rep. Blumenauer: 'One is haunted by these events'

On Wednesday morning, Congressman Earl Blumenauer addressed the House of Representatives to talk about the shooting in his home district and gun violence. Below is a transcript of what he said:

It’s difficult to focus on the task at hand in the aftermath of a shooting rampage in my district yesterday.  
 
With at least 10,000 people in a shopping mall, a young man—allegedly, according to some eyewitness,--with body armor and a semiautomatic weapon, discharged sixty or more shots.  There were two people killed, and a young, 15-year-old girl seriously wounded.
 
Mr. Speaker, one is haunted by these events—we had one in Aurora, Colorado in the theater where there were twelve people killed, sixty wounded;, six people killed at the Sikh temple this summer; the day spa in Milwaukie where three women were killed before the shooter turned the gun on himself. We had a horrific episode earlier in my congressional career in Springfield, Oregon in May of 1998.
 
It’s hard to have meaningful conservations in a variety of subjects—I was going to deal with that problem with the Fiscal Cliff today—but gun violence is another area in America where it seems we can’t have a discussion without delusional claims of overreach and taking away hunting rifles.  Congress won’t even allow statistics on gun violence to be gathered. And we certainly have made no progress towards closing the “gun-show loophole.”
 
Yet I come today, in the aftermath of this tragedy, with a small ray of hope.  When nearly half of all military suicides are committed with [a] privately-owned weapon, the Pentagon and Congress are moving towards establishing policies to separate at-risk service members from personal, private weapons. Congress is poised to enact legislation to end a prohibition about the military collecting information about firearms kept at home.
 
These are simple, commonsense steps, for an armed services where more military personnel take their own life than who die in battle. Perhaps we can take these reasonable steps not just to protect our service men and their families. Perhaps we can develop the courage to treat the epidemic of gun violence with the same thoughtful small steps when it comes to protecting the rest of our families. 
 
Until then, we will mourn the victims, and thank god that our families were not at that mall.
 
Thank you, and I yield back.
 

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