Weekly Democratic Address
March 2, 2018
I’m Senator Feinstein, and I’m here to address gun safety, an issue that should be important to every one of us.
I became mayor of San Francisco as the product of assassination, and I’ve watched with horror as more and more mass shootings have rocked our nation. On December 14th, 2012, a gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut with an AR-15 and murdered 20 children, ages of six and seven, beautiful children, and six young staffers. Five years later, a gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida with another AR-15 and murdered 14 children and 3 staff.
Between just these two shootings, Congress did precisely nothing to remove weapons of war from our streets, nothing to tighten background checks, nothing to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. In the wake of Sandy Hook, many of us hoped we’d see change. Instead, things have only gotten worse. In the five years since Newtown, the Gun Violence Archive reports there have been at least – listen to this, 239 shootings in schools or on school grounds. More than 400 people were shot in these shootings and nearly 150 of them killed. Yet, after every shooting, the NRA and congressional Republicans throw up their hands and say there’s nothing we can do.
Well, they’re wrong. There’s plenty we can do, and we know these proposals will work.
The first step should be banning military-style assault weapons, weapons of war, like the AR-15. Research from the University of Massachusetts showed us that the 10-year federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 was effective. Let me quote from the story about the research, ‘Compared with the 10-year period before the ban, the number of gun massacres during the ban period fell by 37%, and the number of people dying from gun massacres fell by 43%. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers shot up [again] – an astonishing 183%’ – an ‘increase in massacres and a 239% increase in massacre deaths.’ An assault weapons ban won’t stop all the shootings, I don’t kid myself, but if we can decrease the death count, we’re saving life, and that’s – that means it’s really worth doing.
We also need to fix the gaping loopholes in the background check. Today, anyone can walk into a gun show, or log on to their computers and buy an assault rifle, no questions asked. That’s madness.
We need to ban high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, like the 30-round magazines that fit into an AR-15. There’s no reason to fire so many rounds without reloading.
We need to ban bump stocks, the devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, which were outlawed some time ago.
We need to help states develop legal procedures so that loved ones and law enforcement can remove guns from dangerous individuals.
And we need to raise the age to buy an assault rifle to 21 from – if you believe this, 18. You can buy that – one of those at 18. If you can’t buy a beer, you shouldn’t be able to buy an AR-15.
It seems to me that this really is a no-brainer.
On Wednesday, President Trump signaled support for many of these proposals. I hope that can be a lesson for the Congress that Republicans need to finally allow Congress to pass these commonsense measures. There’s so much we can do. We just need the willpower and intestinal fortitude to take on the NRA, and get something done for the safety of the men, women, and particularly, the children in our schools of this country.