Transcript: Brady Campaign Pres. Dan Gross presses lawmakers to solve America’s “gun violence epidemic”

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of remarks by Dan Gross, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, at a press conference outside Capitol Hill on Dec. 18, 2012: 

Today, there will be 32 more families that know the pain and horror that you’ve just heard here today.

So we pay a lot of attention and appropriately so to these mass shootings – the one that Andri’s son miraculously survived. But we also have to be aware that this happens in our nation every day.

And as you’re going to hear today, as a nation, we are better than this.

So I want to thank you all for coming on what we are confident is a momentous day in the history of this issue.

We have people here from all over the country – from Utah and California, from Colorado and Connecticut.

We’re here because we love our children, our husbands, our wives, our brothers and our sisters. We mourn them and we wished they hadn’t been shot. We’re here as a testament to our love for them, and we’re here because we love our country.

We’re here because we know as a nation we are better than this. We’re here from Tucson, from Aurora, from Columbine, from Trolley Square, Seal Beach, Virginia Tech, and Newtown, Connecticut – names that have become iconic in America’s bizarre and shameful epidemic of gun violence.

We’re here because we know that America is greater than those awful moments.

We’re here because we envision an America that’s known as the nation that solved this terrible gun violence epidemic once and for all.

We can do this. We can do this.

They say that Friday’s horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School changed everything, and it has. It is a tipping point.

Reliably pro-gun Senators have shifted their positions, saying they can no longer bring themselves to oppose sensible gun safety policies.

Republican television commentator Joe Scarborough said Sandy Hook changed everything.

President Obama said we can’t tolerate this anymore, we must do better than this.

So Friday changed everything.

For me, though, it was the shooting on the observation deck of the Empire State Building in 1997 that changed everything. That’s when my brother was shot and our dear friend Christopher Burmeister was killed.

For others, it was a day in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado or a temple in Wisconsin or any of the places you’ve just heard.

For some, it was Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown but for others it was a school bus in Chicago or a parking lot in Florida.

For Jim and Sarah Brady, a day in 1981 changed everything when Jim stood behind the most well-trained armed guards of the President yet was still struck by gun violence. And that really changed everything because it created two of the great leaders of this movement who rallied the American people to demand the last important pieces of gun safety legislation we’ve had in this country.

And still, every day in America, everything changes for hundreds of more families.

We’re here because every year in America, 100,000 Americans are shot – 30,000 of them fatally, and there’s so much we can do to prevent this carnage.

40% of gun sales take place without a background check. No questions asked. So felons, the dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers can easily get guns.

74% of NRA members support closing this gaping hole in our nation’s laws.

Military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are readily available to civilians.

We need a sustained, thoughtful, national conversation about solutions to our gun violence epidemic.

A conversation that’s respectful of the Second Amendment – another thing that I’d like to repeat. A conversation that’s respectful of the Second Amendment but cognizant of the risks that guns pose to our families and neighborhoods, like in the cases that you’ve heard about today.

None of these policies has anything to do with Second Amendment rights.

This is the conversation the American public wants to have.

The American people are coming together on this issue, from blue states and red states, Republicans and Democrats, those who own guns – like some of the people behind me, those who do not, cities, suburbs, small towns.

We are speaking out based on one simple idea expressed by President Obama in his powerful remarks in Newtown on Sunday night: We are better than this.

And all of us that you see here today, are here to make our voices heard. The voices of those who have been impacted by gun violence and the voices of everyone who just want to live in a safer nation.

And we’re going to leave this event to take that message – our message – the one that you see in this letter to the halls of Congress and directly to the White House. And we are not going away until America’s gun policies truly change and that we do everything we can to protect our children, our families, and our communities, and we have shown that as a nation, we truly are better than this.

We’re talking about something that the overwhelming majority of Americans already agree on. We’re talking about something like criminal background checks that 74% of NRA members support.

In fact, the only place in this country where this is a heated, partisan, political debate – despite what contentious appearances on the media might have implied – the only place that this is a contentious political debate is in that building behind us. And there’s a disconnect between what the American public wants on this issue and what our elected officials are doing about it.

And our – it’s more than a hope – we are confident that this tragedy that’s happened in Newtown, Connecticut is going to shine such a stark spotlight on that disconnect that – as it’s already starting to happen – our elected officials are going to do the right thing and they’re going to join the conversation. And that’s what we’re asking for today – our elected officials to join the conversation that the American public is already having.


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