Pelosi Floor Speech Ahead of Vote on H.R. 8, The Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019

Feb 27, 2019
Press Release

Contact: Speaker’s Press Office, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the Floor of the House of Representatives ahead of the vote on H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019.  Below are the Speaker’s remarks:
Speaker Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding.  I thank him for his leadership as Chair of the Judiciary Committee, for bringing us to this place promptly – a historic day in the Congress of the United States. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.  

I thank our distinguished colleague from California, Mr. Mike Thompson, for his relentless, persistent leadership to make America safer by bringing forth commonsense background check legislation.  

He is a gun owner, a veteran.  He's been on both sides of the gun.  He is a hunter, he is an advocate for the Second Amendment, and as he said, if this did anything to diminish that, he would not have his name on it.  

I rise in support of this strong bipartisan bill, Mr. Thompson, and join you in commending Mr. King of New York for making this initiative bipartisan from the start – in the previous Congress and now.  And it is a long-overdue, commonsense action to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.  

Let us salute again the persistent leadership of so many in this body and, again, Mr. Thompson, as chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.  You worked in a bipartisan way to protect our communities and we're grateful to you for that.  

But you know, we can do all the inside maneuvering that we want and that is really important and essential.  But without the outside mobilization, we cannot enjoy the success of saving lives and making progress.  

So, I want to thank the courageous advocates who are here today in the gallery, including March for Our Lives and Moms Demand Action, and so many more.  They have made a complete difference.  

As President Lincoln says, ‘Public sentiment is everything. With it you can accomplish almost anything, without it, almost nothing.’  And thank you for building public sentiment to a point where now about 90 percent of the American people support commonsense background checks legislation, including many members, courageously, of the National Rifle Association.  

This bill is proudly bipartisan because gun violence prevention should not be a Democratic or a Republican issue.  Gun violence does not discriminate by party or politics.  It reaches into all of our communities, into our schools, our places of worship, our workplaces and our streets and it will require all of our courage to defeat it.  

Last night we were at the occasion to mark the 25th anniversary of the Brady Bill.  Many of us – some of us were in Congress at the time.  Many of us – here then or not – admired the work, the courageous work of Sarah and Jim Brady to make the country a safer place by reducing gun violence.  25 years ago, we enacted the Brady background check system, which has denied more than three million sales to potentially dangerous individuals.  

Yet the Brady Bill does not stop people from purchasing guns from unlicensed sellers without a background check at gun shows and online.  We must pass H.R. 8 to close this dangerous loophole and keep our communities safe from gun violence.  That's what we are intending to do today.  

George Bernard Shaw said, ‘It's a mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics,’ and here are the facts: Nearly 40,000 lives are cut short every year from gun violence.  An average of 47 children and teenagers are killed by guns every single day.  

It's all about the children, the children, the children.  

We read about the tragic mass murders that have happened in our country.  But we also have – and they stir us to action, hopefully.  Here it's been they stir us to a moment of silence, and now finally to action.  

But it is – it's the every day, every day 47 children and teenagers killed by guns.  And again, another figure, harkening back to 90 percent of the American people want commonsense, universal background checks.  

The statistics spell out the story, but it is the human, personal stories that change minds.  

How moving it was to hear our colleague, Congresswoman McBath, with her generosity of spirit, tell her personal story of losing her son, Jordan.  Can't even imagine carrying that burden.  But turning her grief and her tragedy into action and courage, to run for Congress, to stand on this Floor and share her personal story with us.  That takes real courage.  

Let us hope that we all have the courage to save children’s lives, everyone’s lives in our country whose deaths can be avoided.  

There is no person in this body whose political survival is more important than the survival of our children.  

We're grateful, again, to the young people, parents, survivors across America who have told their stories, marched for their lives and demanded change.  

This bill delivers that change: ensuring that people who are a danger to themselves and others cannot purchase a gun and perpetuate violence in our communities.  

This week, the House will build on this progress by passing another bipartisan background check bill.  We must close the Charleston Loophole that enabled the hate crime at the [Emanuel] African Methodist Episcopal Church.  

We salute the Majority Whip, Mr. Clyburn, for his leadership on H.R. 1112, so tomorrow we will vote on that – that’s another part of strengthening the background check provisions.  

As Members of Congress, again, we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, the American people.  To honor that oath, to honor the victims of gun violence and their families, the Congress must take real action on this Floor.  

Today, we must pass this bill and take the first steps towards ending the senseless crisis of gun violence in our nation.  Again, I hope that all of us will have the courage to save lives, remembering no one's political survival here is more important than the survival of the American people, especially our children.  

I urge a strong bipartisan ‘yes’ vote and pray that we can do the right thing and send a clear message to the families of those who have lost their loved ones to gun violence, that we have crossed a threshold here today to reduce gun violence in our country and take more steps to improve the safety of the American people, honoring the Constitution of the United States, respectful of our hunters and the need for people to defend themselves.  But in doing so in a way that does not endanger others.  

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.  

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