Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor today to commemorate the six-month anniversary of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT, and to call upon Congress to find the courage to act on behalf of those lost and their families. Below are her remarks:
“Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, ‘our hearts are broken, but our spirit is not.’ That is the Sandy Hook promise. Tomorrow marks six months since the tragedy in Newtown – a tragedy seared into the minds of every person across America, indeed many – millions across the world. Like the anniversaries of the shootings in Tucson, in [Aurora], in Oak Creek, and so many other communities, tomorrow marks an anniversary of shock, uncertainty, violence, [and] horror. Tomorrow marks another solemn reminder of the persistent plague of gun violence in our society – and of the ongoing challenge to end it.
“Over the past six months, many words have been spoken to offer our love and support to the community of Newtown and to the students and teachers of Sandy Hook. Yet, from the start, we have known that words of comfort would never be enough – they would be no substitute for the action that we must take, that would be a truly fitting memorial to the 20 children and six teachers and administrators lost that day.
“Yesterday, we had visits from the families – they brought pictures of their loved ones who were lost. David Borden, Lauren Russeau, Ben Wheeler – Benjamin Wheeler – Mary Sherlach, Dylan Hockley. Heartbreaking photos of these children and family members who were lost. I don’t know how much more motivation we need than to see the tears in their eyes and the resolve in their voices, to use their grief as a source of strength to help save other people. That would start with a vote on a bipartisan, on bipartisan legislation by Congressman Mike Thompson, Congressman Peter King, and 180 sponsors to expand and strengthen our background checks.
“No one knows better than the people of Newtown: the men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters who lost their loved ones on December 14, 2012. Since that dark day, the families of Newtown and their supporters have turned their sorrow into strength, their pain into perseverance, their unspeakable loss into unmatched courage and determination to carry on. Yesterday, these mothers and fathers met with both Republican and Democratic leaders, yet they have come with no partisan agenda. They come as Americans who wish to spare their fellow parents and family members the mourning, fear, and terror they felt six months ago.
“Their message is clear: honor the memories of their little children, of these educators, by helping ensure that no other family is forced to endure such an unimaginable tragedy. It had been unimaginable, now we have seen it. Now, our task is plain: we must restore confidence in the safety of our communities by taking clear, effective steps to prevent gun violence in our schools, homes, and neighborhoods. I just read the names and showed the pictures of a few, of a few of the people whose lives were lost that day. For them, and for others, and for the lives we want to save – again, I mention the bipartisan Thompson-King, King-Thompson legislation. That means that using this anniversary – certainly to memorialize the victims of Newtown, but also answer the call of their families to get gun violence prevention legislation a vote in the Congress of the United States.
“Six months ago, in Newtown, a lone gunman took the lives of 26 Americans. We all know that. It’s emblazoned in our minds and in our souls. Since then, nearly 5,000 more Americans have fallen victim to gun violence. Five thousand, Mr. Speaker. Now, in Congress, we must summon the courage to act. We must take inspiration from the courage of the Newtown families, from the courage it has taken to turn their grief into action. We must heed the moving words of the Sandy Hook promise: ‘Our hearts are broken; our spirit is not.’ As we mark this anniversary, we must uphold our most basic responsibility – the oath we take, the oath of office, to ‘protect and defend,’ to protect and defend the Constitution and to protect and defend the people of the United States.
“Mr. Speaker, I thank our colleague Congresswoman Esty and our colleague Congressman Mike Thompson for their leadership in bringing us together this morning so that we can not only remember, but that we can have the courage to act. With that I yield back my time.”