Remarks by the First Lady at a Gun Violence Prevention Event

January 25, 2024

THE FIRST LADY: Thank you. Thank you, Greg.

And, Stef, you've built an amazing team for the first-ever Office of Gun Violence Prevention. (Applause.) I know that working on this issue is not easy, but this team's commitment never wavers, and we all are so grateful for everything that you do.

Ava Olsen, from Townville, South Carolina, is 13. But her friend Jacob will always be six.

Ava will try out different clothing trends and learn how to drive. She'll have crushes and graduate from high school. But Jacob, now forever dressed in his favorite Batman costume, will always be six.

Ava is a survivor. After years of debilitating PTSD, unable to leave her home, you know, for fear of reliving those moments on the playground when she ran for her life, she then returned to school. But the heaviness of that small coffin will always weigh on her heart, because Jacob will always be six.

Ethan Song of Guilford, Connecticut, will always be 15.

Alejandro Guerrero Jr. of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will always be 14.

I know that we have some of their friends and family with us today.

The number of children we've lost to gun violence, to shooting is unfathomable. But those numbers don't tell the whole story.

They don't tell us of the parents who steel themselves as they put their child on the school bus every morning, the students who watch the door instead of the whiteboard, the educators who go over their emergency plans in their heads before the first bell.

Like many of all of you, I know that feeling. I teach at a community college not far from here. I was there this morning. And at the start of each semester, I explain to my students what they should do if the worst happens.

But we can help prevent that violence. You can help prevent that violence.

The parents in your schools trust you. They look to you to steer their children toward the bright futures ahead of them. You can show parents that they can be part of preventing the next shooting, the next suicide, the next accident.

A secured gun could have saved Jacob and Ale- -- Alejandro and Ethan. It could mean they would be starting high school or college or their first job. They could have grown up beside their friends, like it -- like it really should have been.

I know we ask a lot of our educators. And I know that these shootings affect you too. So, I want to thank you for all that you've already done, for coming here to be willing to push a little harder and to do this one more thing.

This issue matters to the President. It weighs on his heart every day. And he's not going to stop fighting until we've solved it.

How can we accept a world where the leading cause of death for our children is gun violence? Where active shooter drills are part of growing up in America? Where our children hear loud noises and duck for cover?

Enough is enough -- enough pain, enough death. No more funerals.

I don't want to have to put my hand on another cross with an eight-year-old's name.

We must change this. We must protect our kids from gun violence.

Thank you for all that you do.

And now, please help me welcome someone who is fighting for our students and our educators every single day, my favorite, Secretary Miguel Cardona. (Laughs.) (Applause.)

Jill Biden, Remarks by the First Lady at a Gun Violence Prevention Event Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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