Smith Statement on Mass Shootings
August 7, 2019
In one week alone, our country witnessed three horrific mass shootings resulting in the heartbreaking loss of 32 innocent victims. Time and again, Americans encounter gun violence in our schools, workplaces, places of worship, concerts, bars—the list continues. The sickening reality is that everywhere we go, the threat of gun violence follows. As we offer support for victims and their loved ones, Democrats and Republicans must come together to end the epidemic of gun violence. Lives are at stake, and the time for partisan gridlock on this issue has long passed. Our country can and must do better.
The President has a shameful record of peddling in xenophobia and bigotry. He has shown no remorse for his dehumanizing rhetoric and the role he has played in emboldening white supremacy at the root of so many recent acts of maddening violence. We must call these acts out for what they are: terrorism. We must hold the President accountable for the role he has played in galvanizing radical hatred.
The President has mongered fear by referring to an “infestation” and “invasion” of immigrants, spewed vitriol at American Congresswomen of color by telling them to “go back” to the “crime infested places from which they came,” and chuckled when a supporter shouted “Shoot them!” when he bemoaned immigrants at a rally—all the while insisting that he is the “least racist person.” This unpatriotic behavior has no place in American politics—least of all in the White House. The American people deserve better, and on the topic of gun violence, they deserve action.
161 days ago, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. 93 percent of Americans, including 76 percent of gun owners, support background checks for all gun sales. The connection between gun violence reduction and stronger background checks is clear—far clearer than its connection to mental illness or video games. The President could save lives by signing H.R. 8 into law. Instead, he threatened to veto it on the very day it passed through the House of Representatives on the grounds that it “is incompatible with the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to keep arms.” Let me be clear: President Trump’s failure to act in the face of these repeated tragedies is itself incompatible with the most fundamental promise of our nation: the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate's self-proclaimed "Grim Reaper," has single-handedly blocked H.R. 8 from coming to a vote. I call on him to end the stonewalling and allow our Senators to do their job and send meaningful, common-sense gun legislation to the President's desk. And, as my friend Congresswoman Jackie Speier eloquently stated:
This is the time for the President to lead by words and deeds, not cower behind false claims, point the finger, and deflect blame. If he is indeed serious that "open wounds cannot heal if we are divided" and wants to "seek real bipartisan solutions" he should immediately convene an emergency meeting at the White House and craft a package of bipartisan bills that he will sign. Otherwise his words are empty and follow a well-worn pattern: Big words, no action.
There is no excuse for inaction. The cost of our failure to act is measured in lives lost.