Weekly Democratic Address
February 23, 2018
Hi, my name is Congressman Ted Deutch, and I represent Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Last week, our community suffered an unspeakable tragedy – the 25th deadly school shooting since Columbine in 1999.
On Wednesday, February 14, as school was ending, a 19-year-old gunman entered the halls of Stoneman Douglas carrying a weapon of war that he bought legally at a gun store. He fired over 100 rounds from his semi-automatic assault rifle in just four short minutes. He killed 17 people: Alyssa, Chris, Meadow, Scott, Luke, Helena, Martin, Cara, Alex, Nicholas, Gina, Carmen, Aaron, Joaquin, Peter, Jaime, and Alaina.
They were students, teachers, and coaches. They were our neighbors, our friends, our family. Students died saving the lives of their classmates. Teachers died saving the lives of their students. Many others were injured.
The Stoneman Douglas community deserves your thoughts and prayers. But thoughts and prayers are not nearly enough. Congress owes them something more. We owe them action.
For those who say it is too soon – for those who always say it is too soon to make change, you must live with the knowledge that it is too late for the grieving parents, it’s too late for the survivors who will carry this with them forever, it’s too late for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas community.
We are tired of hearing that it’s too soon.
Nearly 20 years since Columbine, we continue to suffer a mass gun violence problem that is uniquely American. The rest of the developed world has fixed this and saved lives. Only in America is our inaction marked by the next mass slaughter of children in our schools. Only in America have we chosen to protect the profits of gun corporations over the lives of our students.
On March 24, 2018, students – survivors – from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will march on Washington. They will be joined by students from around the country who want nothing more than to be safe in their schools.
What I ask of President Trump, my colleagues in Congress – and especially Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – is this: meet with these students. Let them share their stories face-to-face with you. Know that this can happen in the hometowns in your own districts. Know that gun violence is an everyday tragedy in our country. What if these were your kids or your grandchildren? What would you do then?
We know what we need to do to make our communities safer from gun violence. We have the solutions, now we need the courage to act.
It’s time for Republicans in Congress to show just a shred of the courage of the Stoneman Douglas students. It’s time for Speaker Ryan to let the House vote to require background checks on every sale and transfer, to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists, to outlaw bump stocks that enable automatic rates of fire, to require that no one under the age of 21 can buy a gun, and to once again ban assault weapons from our streets.
The students of Stoneman Douglas demand action. They will never give up. They are crying out, America has heard it, the world has heard it from them. Never again!
Congress must hear their cries. Congress must take action. And we must do it now.