(Washington, DC) – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today urged his colleagues to act on gun violence prevention legislation in the wake of the nine-month anniversary of the Newtown tragedy and Monday’s mass shooting at a naval office building in Washington, DC. Since Newtown, 8,241 Americans have died as a result of gun violence.
Video of Blumenthal’s speech is here; excerpts from the speech are below.
“I'm here to help commemorate the nine-month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown that took the lives of 26 wonderful people, 20 beautiful children and six courageous, skilled educators. It was a commemoration that I was going to observe yesterday on the floor of the Senate, but of course there was no Senate session yesterday because of yet another unspeakable horrific tragedy, this one close, literally within blocks of this great building.”
“Today, we have an Inspector General report that is profoundly and deeply troubling. If reports of this audit are true, the Navy put the safety of personnel at risk to save dollars and cents. And this apparent security lapse, permitting people with criminal records to freely access military bases and facilities, is deeply concerning; indeed shocking. And I call on the Inspector General to release the full report.”
“…the Navy, with rapid gate technology, and all of its facilities with armed guards and the complex technology that it uses, could not protect members of its own ranks at the Navy Yard. And we should know why. And if it could not do so, can our schools be safe? Can our workplaces be safe? Can America be safe? With the present plethora of firearms in our nation today? This day was horrific and tragic for America, and yet in many ways it was another day.”
“The moment shots rang out and the images came over the news wires, we knew with an instinctive understanding that this unfolding incident was another act of gun violence in America, another act of gun violence in an America plagued by a plethora of guns.”
“…last April, the Senate turned its back on the Newtown families, and one of the most difficult days of my career in this job or any other job was to try to explain to those families how more than 90 percent of the American people, the majority of gun owners, in fact, many members of the NRA, could back commonsense measures like background checks. Now, it had 55 senators supporting it on that day, 54 voting for it, but 60 votes were needed, and one of the answers, of course, is to change the Senate rules which I have long supported doing to eliminate the filibuster. But the families of Newtown and those 8,158 Americans and their loved ones and all Americans deserve a better answer, and it is not to accept these mass killings as the new normal, as the common place of America.”
“The shooting at the Washington Navy Yard makes clear that, as we said in the wake of Newtown, these kinds of mass killings can happen anywhere, any school, any community – in Newtown, the quintessential New England town or at the Washington Navy Yard, a supposedly secure military facility. And we need to make sure that it happens nowhere. Let us make a mental health initiative, a centerpiece of this renewal and reinvigoration of our effort to stop gun violence. Let us combine it with background checks and other commonsense measures. Bring back this issue and these measures. We are not going away. We are not giving up.”
“Not long ago – in fact, just this past weekend – I attended a playground dedication on the beach in Fairfield, overlooking the sound, a beautiful, cloudless day lit by an early morning sun, to dedicate a playground in honor of one of the children, Jessica Rekos, whose family was there as well. That playground will be a living reminder of our obligation to do better.”