At a House Judiciary Committee on gun control legislation called the Protecting Our Kids Act, Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., read the names of the victims of the recent mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and Uvalde, Texas, and told Republican lawmakers they were “way behind the curve” with most Americans, who she said are in favor of gun control measures.
- Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I thank you for calling us to this emergency markup of the Protecting Our Kids Act. It is timely. In fact, we've all been clamoring for this kind of legislation for a very, very long time.
I'm stunned by some of the words that we're hearing on the other side of the aisle. Where is their outrage over the slaughter of 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers? Why don't they feel an urgency to do something? I'm reminded of the John Donne poem that ends, "do not ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee." It tolls for us.
We have to stop saying, oh, where was the shooting? Tulsa, Buffalo, Uvalde, Parkland? Stop asking for whom the bell tolls. Whose funerals are we watching this week? It tolls for us. Our souls are being drenched out of this society.
Before I discuss the important merits of the legislation, let's ground the debate in these last two slaughters-- actually, they're not the last, but the two that were some of the urgency that brought us here. On May 14, 2020, 10 Black people were killed in a racist mass shooting, simply shopping for groceries. Roberta Drury, 32, Marcus Morrison, 52, Andre McNeil, 53, Aaron Salter, 55, Geraldine Talley, 62, Celestine Cheney, 65, Hayward Patterson, 67, Katharine Massey, 72 Pearl Young, 77, Ruth Whitfield, 86.
It's untimely that we're here? What's untimely is being slaughtered in a supermarket by an 18-year-old with an assault-style weapon that he bought himself too, sort of as a birthday celebration, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. You're worried about restricting that purchase and that slaughter, and you're not worried about the untimely deaths of 10 Black people in a supermarket? And only 10 days later, 19 children and two teachers killed.
And I know you heard the names, but I'm going to say their first names again. McKenna, Layla, Miranda, Nevaeh, Jose, Xavier. These are all 10 and 11-year-olds, I should be saying. Tess, 10, Rogelio, 10, Ellie, 9, Eliana 10, Annabelle, 10, Jackie, 9, Uziyah, 10, Jace, 10, Maite, 10, Jailah, 10, and Mary, 10, Maxi, 10, Alithia, 10, and their teachers, Irma, 48, and Eva, 44.
As we have heard, one of the children called twice, at least twice, to send the police. One of the children recounted how she took the blood of her dead friend lying near her and smeared herself with that blood to pretend to be dead. What have we taught our children? This is on our watch. Where is the outrage?
I will tell my friends on the other side of the aisle who, for some reason, stand against these common-sense measures that would save lives-- not all lives, but would save lives-- you're way behind the curve. Gun owners, Americans, by and large, want these measures. I don't know what bubble you're living in, I guess surrounded by a powerful gun lobby, trying to hold on to your seats. But America is way ahead of you.
The outrage is real. We didn't learn it after Columbine. We didn't learn it after Sandy Hook. Please, God, let us stop the shame on our country. Pass these laws. Say that an 18-year-old cannot go in and slaughter our children or Black people because they don't like Black people. Join us. Join us in saving lives. We couldn't have a more important job to do.