Hartford, CT–(ENEWSPF)–April 21, 2016. Today, Hillary Clinton spoke with family members of gun violence victims about her commitment to enact commonsense gun safety measures as president in Hartford, Connecticut.
Participants included Erica Smegielski, the daughter of Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed in the shooting in Newtown; Kim Washington, an educator at Hamden High School who lost multiple students to gun violence and founded the New Haven chapter of Moms Demand Action; Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose six-year-old daughter, Ana Grace, was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting; Deborah Davis, who lost her 20-year-old son, Phillip, to gun violence in 2010 when he was shot by a friend; and Iran Nazario, who lost his brother to gun violence and founded Compass Peace Builders, which helps at-risk youth avoid becoming perpetrators or victims of gun violence.
The transcript of Clinton’s remarks, as delivered, is below:
Thank you. Wow. I am really honored to be here back in Hartford. I am so grateful to each of these panelists and so many in the audience who like me are determined that we will do whatever we can to (inaudible) violence in America. On average 90 people a day die from gun violence. That is 33,000 people a year. A year. If anything else were killing 33,000 Americans a year, [inaudible] we would be fully mobilized, doing everything we possible could to save lives. I’m really proud that your leaders here in Connecticut have shown the way and I want to thank Governor Dan Malloy, who is here (inaudible), Nancy Wyman (inaudible).
Your young Mayor who is a friend of my daughter’s, which of course makes that even better for me, with his daughter who is here. Thank you Mayor Bronin and thank you to everyone.
I want to also call out Reverend Henry Brown for his leadership as well. I know how hard it was to do what Connecticut’s governor and legislature did after Sandy Hook. So I am not here to make promises I can’t keep. I am here to tell you I will use every single minute of every day, if I am so fortunate enough to be your president, looking for ways that we can save lives, that we can change the gun culture. It is just too easy for people to reach for a gun to settle their problems. It makes no sense. And we can do this consistent with the Second Amendment. We can do this with the support of responsible gun owners. And that is exactly what we will do. And I want you to know – that I know I don’t have all the answers.
You will hear from the panelists today both about their personal experiences and about what they are doing to organize in their communities and across the nation to come up with commonsense gun safety reforms. I’m advocating for comprehensive background checks, closing every one of the loopholes – the gun show loophole, the online loophole, what’s called the Charleston loophole. Under the gun laws, you are entitled to get the gun you want to buy after three days whether or not the background check is completed.
The reason it’s called the Charleston loophole is that the young killer of Charleston went to get that gun, came back three days later, the background check wasn’t completed, but under the law the seller had no choice but to sell the gun. Twenty-four hours later they learned he never should have been able to buy the gun because of his record. But he took that gun and he went to that venerable church in Charleston during Bible study and he was invited in and ended up murdering nine people.
I was in Philadelphia yesterday. There were 12 shootings in Philadelphia just over the weekend – four deaths. A police officer, shot and injured. And a four-year-old girl, killed when her father was playing with his loaded gun. Because in that 33,000 deaths every year, there are homicides, to be sure, and there are suicides, and there are tragic, avoidable accidents, too many of them including children who find that loaded gun.
So it is with incredible gratitude to the people you’re about to hear from that I ask you to please join us in this effort. I’m raising it everywhere I go because we need a national movement. They gun lobby is the most powerful lobby in Washington. You can talk about Wall Street, drug companies, insurance companies, big oil. They’re all powerful, don’t get me wrong.
Nobody is more powerful than the gun lobby because they have figured out how to intimidate elected officials at all levels, who basically just stop thinking about this problem because they’re too scared to stand up to the NRA. That’s why what happened here in Connecticut really needs to be a model – to stand up and then fight for what you have done politically and convince a majority of people to stand with you. That’s what we have to do in Washington and nationally. We have to turn this into a voting issue.
So we’re now going to hear from the panelists, and I’ve asked each of them to talk about their personal story but also to share their ideas about what could be done. We have a really good, diverse panel. And then if we have time when we finish, I would love to hear from people in the audience too.