WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke on the House Floor today in support of H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act and H.R. 1446, legislation to close the Charleston Loophole. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery and a link to the video.
Click here to watch the video.
“Madam Speaker, according to the database from the Associated Press, USA Today, and Northeastern University that tracks mass shootings - which they define as four or more victims, not including the shooter – 2020 was a standout year. After years of setting new records for mass shootings 2019 had the highest number recorded: thirty-three mass shootings in one year. But in 2020, there were only two mass shootings. One in February, and another in early March. Of course, those numbers don’t count the hundreds of shootings each year in which there are fewer than four victims, with tens of thousands killed or maimed by gun violence annually. But the contrast in the number of mass shootings from 2019 to 2020 is stark.
“Madam Speaker, I don’t have to explain to my colleagues why mass shootings suddenly came to a halt last year. But it shouldn’t take a deadly viral pandemic to stop a deadly epidemic of gun violence. And with the arrival of vaccines and passage of President Biden’s plan to help make it safe to reopen businesses and schools, we will soon be gathering in groups once more. Nobody wants to see a return to mass shootings. Nobody wants to see a return to deadly school shootings that terrorized America’s students.
“We shouldn’t need a pandemic to reduce gun violence in this country. The way to do that ought to be through passing commonsense gun safety legislation through Congress to make it harder for deadly firearms to get into the hands of those who cannot bear them responsibly. That’s what H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, would do. Nine out of 10 Americans support the reforms in this bill. That includes a majority of Republicans and a majority of responsible gun owners. This is one of the greatest examples of legislation that truly reflects the will of the American people. That’s why I hope we can come together to pass it with bipartisan support.
“Just as I believe we ought to do this week with Whip Clyburn’s bill as well, which would close the loophole that contributed to the reprehensible and racially motivated mass shooting at the Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
“I hope that Senate Republicans will not filibuster this bill. I hope they will listen to the voices of parents, children, siblings, spouses, neighbors, and friends of those who were killed by gun violence in recent years. And I hope they will remember the names that bring tears to so many eyes and pain to so many hearts: Parkland, Sandy Hook, Charleston, Las Vegas, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Annapolis, San Bernardino, Washington Navy Yard, Oak Creek, Tucson, Virginia Tech…
“Let’s not add more names to this register of grief. Let’s not rely on a pandemic to do what we ought to have done so long ago. Let’s pass these bills and reduce gun violence the right way: with our votes.”