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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

By Senator Chuck Schumer

Exclusive to NNPA Newswire

 

It seems like every few months, our nation is rocked by another mass shooting. El Paso and Dayton are only the latest of a list of tragedies that stretches from Parkland to Pittsburgh, Charleston to Columbine, San Bernardino to Sandy Hook, and to Las Vegas.

And while these high-profile mass shootings dominate headlines, they are only the tip of the iceberg. Every day, communities across the country are ripped apart by gun violence. This reality is especially harrowing for Black Americans. Consider these statistics from the gun rights advocacy group Everytown:

• Nearly 7,500 Black Americans die by gun homicide every year, a rate10 times higher than that of white Americans.

• Black children are10 times more likely to be hospitalized from gun violence than other children, and are 14 times more likely to die from their injuries.

• Within the 50 cities with the highest murder rates, Black Americans are81 percent of the victims, despite making up only 38 percent of the population.

The conclusions are clear: Black Americans face a greater risk of being victims of gun violence compared to their peers. The only question that remains is what will be done about it.

It is obvious that our current laws are not doing enough to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Now, more than ever, we must do more to protect our children from the scourge of gun violence.

And the simplest, best place to start is for the Senate to have a vote on H.R. 8, the House-passed bipartisan bill to close the loopholes in our federal background check system. For years, Democrats have argued that we must close these loopholes because the rest of our gun safety laws will continue to be undermined if this problem isn’t fixed. In the minds of almost all Americans, it’s not remotely controversial: over 90% of Americans support this idea—including a majority of Republicans and a majority of gun owners.

The only roadblocks remaining are President Trump and Senate Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, whose fealty to the gun lobby has stymied any progress.

Astonishingly, the unthinkable violence that has plagued our communities for years has done little to push Senate Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump into action. They have repeatedly refused to join Democrats in taking meaningful, lifesaving action on commonsense gun safety legislation.

But we are not giving up, and neither are the American people. Every day, people are raising their voices and making this issue impossible for Republicans to ignore. The activism we see—from students who have lost friends or classmates and fear they may be next and from parents who have lost their children to gun violence or fear they may one day face that unthinkable reality—has brought an unprecedented level of attention to this struggle. They are not giving up the fight to end our nation’s gun violence epidemic and neither will Senate Democrats.

In moments like this, we cannot settle for half measures or lip service. We are calling on Senate Republicans to honor the lives lost to gun violence by bringing the House-passed bipartisan universal background checks bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

It is our solemn duty to the victims of gun violence to cure this terrible plague that claims tens of thousands of lives every single year. They cannot speak for themselves, but their memory calls down to us for justice.