Pelosi Remarks at Evening of Remembrance for Orlando Victims
Contact: Drew Hammill/Caroline Behringer, 202-226-7616
Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today at an evening of remembrance to honor the victims and survivors of the worst mass shooting in American history, at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Below are the Leader’s remarks:
“David, thank you for your generous remarks. I accept those kind words on behalf of our entire Caucus for whom what you said is very out, very committed to the dignity and worth of every person – very proud. And we take great pride in [the] LGBT community and great grief in what happened in Orlando.
“I have been circling – I thought I could almost see from the sky – I’ve been circling and circling and circling coming from Dallas where I had the privilege of attending the service there. And we keep hearing the same words: our hearts are broken. Our hearts are broken. Broken hearts soul searching – we are searching our souls for what we can all do to get these bills passed into law to protect people.
“These young people – Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, a young person – all of them so young, their lives cut short. Why? Why? You know in so many of these occasions in the past, we have said – I’ve quoted Lincoln talking about the harsh artillery of time – fading the memory of tragedy of lives lost whether in more – in our lives, personal lives. But now, it’s not just the harsh artillery of time fading the memory, it’s the harsh artillery. It’s the harsh artillery of replacing one tragedy with another with another with another, but that does not diminish the heartbreak and the loss.
“Imagine that we were with – I was with the President in Dallas when he spoke so beautifully and comforting. Before we could even have a one-month anniversary of what happened in Orlando and everything that happened in between – stemming from the refusal of some to stop gun violence by passing a bill that says: if you can’t fly because you are on the terrorist list, you can’t buy a gun. So simple. Ninety percent of the American people support that. Easy. Eighty five percent of the American people – gun owners and Republicans, Democrats, NRA, Independents – NRA members not NRA, NRA members support expanding the background check bill – responsible background checks. We’re talking about online purchases and something that we weren’t talking about. Right, Steny? Twenty years ago when we were passing this bill, the original Brady Bill then, we weren’t talking about online purchases. But now, they are there and they must be – there have to be background checks on them and in gun shows.
“Now, I don’t know because I haven’t had this confirmed, but what we were told there – it was that many of the guns that this person had were purchased online and in gun shows. Search our souls – broken hearts. Think about what we can do to persuade people that every life is important. And as others have said: we talk about the more than 1,000 – [Congressman] Mike Thompson talks all the time about the more than 1,000 mass murders since Newtown, but every night – as we had on these steps last week – 91 people, we had the 91 people in orange, die on the streets of our cities. Much of that can be prevented – some of them on the streets of our cities that can be prevented.
“If you could prevent the loss of life, the grief that goes with it, hearing the stories of the families. Words are totally inadequate, actions have to happen. Moments of silence are respectful. We pray for the families and those who have lost their loved ones and the loved ones who are lost but words are no substitute for action, and we are not going away. We are not going away until bills are passed in this Congress to help us honor our oath of Congress to protect the American people.
“Just getting back to Orlando, this was a hate crime on top of everything else. It was a hate crime. Hate crime. Young people enjoying themselves on a weekend, going out, life, liberty, freedom to be who they are, the pursuit of happiness, snuffed out. Snuffed out. Broken hearts. Soul searching. Let’s use our best thinking, best persuasion. As [Congressman] John Lewis says over and over – and aren’t we just so blessed, such a [blessing] that God has blessed is with your presence in this Congress and for many occasion, but at this time. John has said to us that what you need to do is convince the average Joe – that would be ‘J-o’ or ‘J-o-e’ to know her or his power to call their Member of Congress to make a difference – to make a difference. When that happens in the proper numbers, I believe nothing is more eloquent to a Member of Congress than the voice of his or her own constituent. That’s the voice they hear. We urge people who care, who have broken hearts, who are soul searching to take action.
“[Congressman] David Cicilline, thank you. Thank you for bringing us together this evening. Thank you for putting forth courageously the Equality Act with John Lewis and other Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Mr. Clyburn and others. And thank you for giving us this opportunity to, once again, reach out to the average joe and say: know your power, call your congressperson. We’re not ever going to stop. If anybody in this building that it’s going to fade, they can just forget about it. To us, it is inevitable that this will happen. To them, it is inconceivable that this will happen. And we want to shorten the distance between the inevitable for us and the inconceivable for them.
“We will not stop until we get the job done. Thank you, my colleagues, Thank you, my colleagues, for all that you’re doing. Thank you all.”
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