As Prepared for Delivery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Judiciary Committee Member Rep. Greg Stanton delivered the following statement during the hearing, “Preventing Gun Violence: A Call To Action.”  Today’s hearing on gun violence prevention was the first held by the House in eight years. 

“Mr. Chairman, 

Before joining this distinguished body, I spent six years as a big city mayor.  There are a lot of challenges in that job, and even a few fears.  But there is nothing that I feared more than that I would get a call of a mass shooting in my city.  We were lucky in Phoenix.  Many other communities were not. Aurora, Newtown, Charleston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, Pittsburgh, Thousand Oaks. 

And it pains me, Mr. Chairman, that between the time when the first shot rang out in Newtown and today, this body had not held a single hearing – not a single hearing – on what we can do to reduce gun violence until today.   

The American people deserve better. 

My community, like every American community, is not immune from gun violence.  I can tell you that my darkest and hardest days as mayor were delivered at the hand of gun violence.  Police officers murdered by those who shouldn’t have had a gun.  Women and children gunned down in acts of domestic violence by someone who shouldn’t have had a gun.   

I’ve mourned with family members who’ve lost loved ones to gun violence.  I’ve worked alongside survivors and advocates whose lives have been torn apart and stitched back together again after encountering our worst fears.   

Our nation stops when there’s a mass shooting.  But here’s the cold reality: Gun violence happens every single day in America.  It takes lives every single day.  But it has become so common place that it doesn’t make headlines.  

We’re here today to examine a public health crisis in our nation.  

Throughout my public service, I’ve met with people from all walks of lives—people from both sides of the aisle—and they all agree, we must do something to stop the violence.  To stop innocent people from dying.  

Democrats and Republicans alike respect gun rights and are in favor of commonsense gun laws.  

These are not competing values.   

97 percent of Americans support background checks for every gun sale. 97 percent. That includes gun owners, that includes Republicans.

They all support background checks, and that support is overwhelming.   

Background checks on all gun sales are the backbone of any comprehensive gun violence prevention plan—for me, this is where we can come together to make a difference. 

As difficult as it is to hear from these witnesses today, we have a responsibility to listen and not look away. There is a thread that weaves these experiences together: Too many guns are being used against innocent people. And too many ill-gotten guns are being used against innocent people. We must put an end to it.”