Kamala Harris photo

Remarks by the Vice President on Gun Safety

September 22, 2023

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everyone. Please be seated. Good afternoon.

So, I will start by thanking our president, Joe Biden, for his longstanding leadership in the fight to save lives from gun violence.

I also want to thank my husband, the first Second Gentleman of the United States, and the extraordinary members of our administration, the members of Congress, survivors, advocates, and our incredible young leaders who raise their voice and demand change.

So, we are all gathered here today for a simple reason. We agree that in a civil society, the people must be able to shop in a grocery store, walk down the street, or sit peacefully in a classroom and be safe from gun violence.

But instead, our nation is being torn apart by the tragedy of it all and torn apart by the fear and trauma that results from gun violence.

Recently, I have met with students on college campuses across our country. And when I'm there, every time, I turn to the students and make a request of them. And what I ask is: Please raise your hand if you have had an active-shooter drill while you were in elementary or middle school.

Every time -- every time, a sea of hands goes up, because in today's world, on the first day of school, students, yes, learn the name of their teacher; yes, they learn the location of their cubby; and they learn how to quietly hide from an active shooter.

In fact, when having this conversation, a student once told me, "I don't like going to fifth period." "Why honey?" I asked. "Because in fifth period, there is no closet."

In our country today, one in five people has lost a family member to gun violence. Across our nation, every day, about 120 Americans are killed by a gun.

And while this violence impacts all communities, it does not do so equally. Black Americans are 10 times more likely to be victims of gun violence and homicide. Latino Americans, twice as likely.

And as a former courtroom prosecutor, I will tell you, I have personally prosecuted homicide cases. I have seen with my own eyes what a buil- -- bullet does to the human body.

We cannot normalize any of this. These are not simply statistics. These are our children, our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers.

As a former district attorney, attorney general, and U.S. senator, and, now, as vice president of the United States, I have grieved with parents who have lost a child. I have comforted children who have been traumatized by losing a parent or a sibling.

We owe it to them and to those living in fear to act without delay.

And on this issue, we do not have a moment to spare, nor a life to spare.

And here's the thing: Solutions do exist. It's a false choice to suggest you either have to choose between supporting the Second Amendment or passing reasonable gun safety laws. That's a false choice.

President Biden and I believe in the Second Amendment, but we also know commonsense solutions are at hand.

So, I'll close with just a couple points.

First, President Biden and I continue to be deeply inspired by the students who are leading this movement. (Applause.) So many of whom are here.

And second, in many ways, we are then propelled by their work, by your work. And being propelled by what you are doing, we are expanding our work.

With this new office, we will use the full power of the federal government to strengthen the coalition of survivors and advocates and students and teachers and elected leaders to save lives and fight for the right of all people to be safe from fear and to be able to live a life where they understand that they are supported in that desire and that right.

And with that, I will now introduce a national leader on this issue.

He was only 15 years old when he joined this movement. He is an organizer, he is an advocate, he is a coalition builder, and he is the first Gen Z member of the United States Congress -- (applause) -- Representative Maxwell Frost. (Applause.)

Kamala Harris, Remarks by the Vice President on Gun Safety Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/365415

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