|Congress Should Act to Reduce Gun Violence in America|
|Monday, 16 October 2000 15:00|
Madam Speaker, my goal in coming to Congress was to help make the Federal
Government a better partner in making communities more livable, our families
safer, healthier, and more economically secure.
Clearly, safety from the threat of gun violence is one critical element in a livable community. Since I started my public service career, over 1 million Americans have lost their lives to gun violence. That is more than all the United States citizens who have lost their lives in battle from the Civil War through last week to the 17 who were tragically killed in Yemen.
Part of the solution to this epidemic of gun violence is to put a name to those faces, to make them real. One of those faces belongs to a woman named Candise DuBoff Jones, who was a bright, caring 26-year-old attorney who happened to be a law school classmate of mine in Portland, Oregon.
One morning at 10:30, she was having a hearing on a domestic relations matter two floors below where I was working as a county commissioner. Shots rang out. Candise was dead, along with her assailant who was the husband of the woman she was representing.
This impact had a dramatic ripple effect. It was not just the loss of Ms. Jones' life, but it was a loss for her husband, it was a loss for her brother, friends, and colleagues. Certainly, everybody in that courtroom was scarred by that event.
Madam Speaker, it is hard for me to share even today, not because we were that close particularly. In fact, I knew her brother much better, who was a distinguished and respected faculty member at our college, Professor Leonard DuBoff. But what is hard for me, besides the tragic loss of this woman, was that we as a society, we as a government know we can take steps to reduce gun violence, and we do not.
Over the same period of time that we lost those million gun deaths, we as a society cut the rate of auto death in this country in half. There was not any single magic solution, but there was a determination on the part of citizens and government alike to take simple, common sense steps to improve traffic safety, auto design, and law enforcement.
We can do the same thing to reduce gun violence. Luckily, there are now some States where citizens have taken the matters in their own hands, like my own State of Oregon where there is a measure on the ballot in November that will allow people to close the gun show loophole. I am confident that voters will overwhelmingly, when given this chance, vote affirmatively, as they will in Colorado.
It is strange that at a time when leaders in the Mideast are once again taking risks for peace, in fact, putting their own lives at risk by stepping forward, I am sad that the Republican House leadership will not stand up to the gun lobby and take a small but important step for peace in this country to reduce gun violence.
We have not had a meeting of the conference committee on the juvenile crime bill for the last 15 months. It was last August that it met. It has a provision that would enable us to close the gun show loophole that has already passed the Senate.
This is just but one small step, but it would send a signal that we in the House of Representatives care enough about saving lives of families in this country to take modest political risks to do the right thing.
There is still time yet in this session of Congress to do that, to convene the conference committee, to allow the House of Representatives to vote on closing the gun show loophole, to take a small step to make our communities more livable, our families safer, healthier, and more economically secure.