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Remarks on New and Improved Assault Weapons Ban

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy offers thoughts on latest gun legislation.

The following are the remarks of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy at the introduction of a new and improved federal assault weapons ban on Jan. 24, 2013:

You’d think after all these years of being in Congress and fighting for this issue, I wouldn’t be nervous standing here in front of all of you.

This battle has been a very lonely battle for many, many years.

I think a lot of the victims that are out there and a lot of the groups that have been fighting for this for so long probably felt that way, but when you look over here and Senator Feinstein came because of gun violence that she witnessed, Senator Schumer who took the lead when I wasn’t in Congress, doing all the work he could to get the first assaults weapon bill done.

Senator Durbin, my colleagues, the mayors, police chiefs and everybody behind me, then all of you. You know, a lot of words can be said and I’ve got a great speech here. My staff worked on it a long time and I’m probably going to do what they always tell me not to do. That means just talk from my heart.

I’ve watched the slaughter of so many people and I have met with so many victims over the years.

And in Congress, nobody wanted to touch the issue.

And the last several years the massacres were going on more and more.

And going through it, I kept saying, what's wrong with all of us?

How many people have to be killed before we do something? I thought for sure after Virginia Tech, we would get something done. Aurora. But something happened in Newtown.

The people of America said how could this happen? How could this happen to our children? You know, when we have been meeting with the NRA over the last few weeks, going to trying to find how we could work together, it’s been frustrating, but I still have great hope, but to be honest with you, I’m not going to be able to trust them to be there for the tough votes.

And that's why all of us, and the president, by the way, and Vice President Biden, and those of us that are going to be fighting for this, are going to spread the word to the corners of this country. NRA members have been speaking out to get something done.

These are good law-abiding citizens.

They want to hunt. They want to go duck hunting. And the guns they use, duck hunting, you’re only allowed three bullets. Deer hunting, depending what state you’re in only allow five bullets. Most hunters will tell you, if you don't get it on the first try, you're probably not going to get it on the second one.

And yet, we have these machines, we have the large magazines that can take down 20 children in seconds. And the only reason that slaughter stopped because our first responders were there and the killer ended up taking his own life.

Some people will say this bill won't work. Let me tell you why it will work.

Because if you don’t have these guns and the large magazines on the shelves, those that have done these horrific killings wouldn't be able to go into a gun store and just buy them. They don’t have the background to go and look to where the black market is to be able to buy these magazines and guns.

They go to the simplest place. If they’re not in the stores, they can’t be bought.

Think of the lives that could be saved. And I bet a lot of people in this audience whose families have gone through a killing in their family, losing a child, losing a husband, losing a wife and they were single killings and we must do something to stop that also.

This is only the beginning. We are going to be working on a holistic approach.

We should be looking at how we can help our young people so they don’t go into the world of drugs. We should be helping those children that might be having psychological problems so they don’t feel that they have to take a gun to either commit suicide or to take down some of their classmates. You’re going to hear from some on the opposite side of many of us that it can't be done.

I’m telling you it can be done.

I’m telling you with all my heart and soul it can be done.

But we, as the president had said, the people, have to make those decisions.

Newtown made a difference. The killing there made us all look up and into ourselves and say, why can’t we do something about that? I am telling you, between this battle between now and when we get this passed, you’re going to hear from the NRA.

An awful lot of them are saying, that’s not going to do anything. I’m saying to you, we can save lives. Think about this. Since Newtown, just about 1,000 people have died from guns. 1,000 people.

Those children, their dreams, the dreams of even those that have died through other violence never to be fulfilled. The day that that incident happened, I actually was giving an interview and it was just a reporter following up on how do I get through the holidays. She said to me, oh, my God, do you have the TV on?

That was the beginning of my nightmare again as it is for every victim that has to go through it every single time we hear of a killing.

It has to stop. It has to stop, and we can do it and we can make a difference.

And we can save thousands and thousands of lives.

I would be remiss if I did not say for those that have survived those horrific shootings, as my son did so many years ago, whose life will never be the same, and how much it’s cost this country on health care to take care of those victims, that is what this country is facing.

We have to look at each other and say, yes, we can do this. We will do the right thing. Our police officers will do the right thing.

But if the American people don't stand up to the lies that are being said that we can't do anything about gun violence, who loses?

The future of our children. They are the ones that lose. We can do this.

Please be out there for us.

Carolyn McCarthy is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.

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