Above: Gottheimer stands with the Brady Campaign, Moms Demand Action, and North Jersey leaders to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy which took place seven years ago this week.
PARAMUS, NJ – On Sunday, December 8, 2019, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) took part in a vigil to remember the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School gun violence tragedy, which took place seven years ago this week. Gottheimer stood alongside the Brady Campaign, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Students Demand Action to call for action to protect North Jersey students from gun violence.
“We’re here today, to look back, seven years ago this week, to a tragedy that took six and seven year old children — several of whom were crouched together in a single bathroom — away from their parents forever, and remarkable, brave faculty who also lost their lives protecting the children they taught each day,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “The best way we can keep our children safe is to finally pass legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of those who would come through a school’s front doors with a weapon fit for war. It’s time we doubled down on this fight in the halls of Congress, put aside the partisan name calling, and actually got this done. Enough excuses; it’s time to act.”
Gottheimer continued, “Together, with the advocacy of Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, the bravery of our local law enforcement, our local leaders, and with the safety of our children as our top priority, I know that here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.”
Gottheimer has called for the Senate to finally bring two important safety measures to the floor that the House sent over 280 days ago: H.R. 8, which requires a background check on every gun sale or transfer; and H.R. 1112, which closes the Charleston Loophole that allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed a background check.
Earlier this year, Gottheimer announced the bipartisan ALYSSA Act — the Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in Schools Safety Alert Act, named after Fifth District native and Parkland, Florida, victim Alyssa Alhadeff, which will bring New Jersey’s state Alyssa’s Law to the national level by requiring all public schools to install silent panic alarms connected to local law enforcement. Gottheimer’s ALYSSA Act will also ensure every school has access to School Resource Officers, so schools have a well-trained first responder on already on campus in the event of a critical incident.
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America was founded a day after the Sandy Hook tragedy.
Gottheimer’s remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
We’re here today, to look back, seven years ago this week, to a tragedy that took six and seven year old children — several of whom were crouched together in a single bathroom — away from their parents forever, and remarkable, brave faculty who also lost their lives protecting the children they taught each day. Twenty-six perished that day because of horrific and entirely preventable gun violence.
One had just been building gingerbread houses for Christmas, another dreamed of becoming a writer or a spy. And on that fateful day, one, Jesse Lewis stayed behind to tell his friends to run. Forever six and seven years old — never allowed the opportunity to grow up.
I just left my seven-year-old son a few minutes ago – and I hugged him extra hard – something that the Sandy Hook parents never had the chance to do again.
I’m sick and tired of having to wage this fight, year in and year out, when so many of the potential solutions to gun violence are sitting right in front of us.
I’m sick and tired of seeing the alerts come across my phone — even this week, when brave servicemembers were the targets of deadly attacks in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and Pensacola, Florida.
I’m sick and tired that my two young children and yours have to go through active shooter drills in school every year, standing on the back of a toilet seat in the bathroom or hiding in the classroom closet.
I’m sick and tired of teachers telling me they have to lie in fear – fear of how they will hide every single child in their classroom.
I’m sick and tired of having to explain to moms and dads, here in the greatest country in the world, that, despite what seems like an obvious solution for an epidemic, that there are very powerful interest groups that will continue to do everything they can to hold progress hostage.
But, we are here today, because, as it is said in Scripture, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9.
We cannot – we must not lose heart, we must keep at it
The time for real action is right now. The time to come together, like we’re doing here this evening, is now. Because it’s time for the light to overcome the darkness
The best way we can keep our children safe is to finally pass legislation to help keep guns out of the hands of those who would come through a school’s front doors with a weapon fit for war
To do that, we need real background checks for every single commercial transaction, universally, including at gun shows, so that no criminal, gang member, terrorist, or individual with a mental illness can brandish a lethal weapon.
The House Judiciary Committee has worked on a package of gun and school safety legislation – on red flags, high capacity magazines, and hate crimes. That’s the least we can do.
What we also need is for Senator Mitch McConnell to bring background check legislation — that I co-sponsored and that we sent to the Senate 284 days ago — for a debate and a vote on the Senate floor.
This shouldn’t be so hard. It’s a bipartisan issue. Ninety percent of Americans agree we need them, including many of my friends in law enforcement right here in my District.
I’ve also called on the Senate to finally act on closing the Charleston Loophole, which currently allows a firearm sale to proceed even if the FBI has not yet completed the background check. This is another piece of legislation we sent the Senate 284 days ago
And many agree that we need real red flag legislation to prevent people who are domestic abusers or those with mental illness from having a weapon. Many of my Republican colleagues also agree that the average American, or sportsman or sportswoman, doesn’t need a military-grade weapons of war to hunt or protect themselves – or a high-capacity drum with more than a hundred rounds. If you can’t wait a few days to pass a simple background check, you shouldn’t have a gun
We also need to address the safety of our schools from all angles, which is why I introduced this year, the bipartisan ALYSSA Act — the Alyssa’s Legacy Youth in Schools Safety Alert Act, named after Parkland, Florida shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, whose family hails from right here in the Fifth District. This
Earlier this year, in February, New Jersey signed legislation into law requiring all New Jersey public schools to install silent panic alarms that can be utilized in an active-shooter situation. Only twenty-seven percent of our schools have silent alarms installed that would immediately notify the police of an active shooter.
The ALYSSA Act will bring the same requirements enshrined in New Jersey’s Alyssa’s Law to all the more than 98,000 public schools nationwide.
A recent tally has our nation at 370 mass shootings so far this year. That means we will be finishing 2019 with an average of more than one mass shooting every single day. Yes, one every day.
Enough is enough.
It’s time we doubled down on this fight in the halls of Congress, put aside the partisan name calling, and actually got this done. Enough excuses; it’s time to act. No more fake arguments about why we can’t protect our schools, malls, and nights clubs from yet another deranged killer, white supremacist, or lone-wolf terrorist who wants to destroy another family.
I believe that every one of you gathered here will join me in that call.
So, as we join together today, looking back at the tragedy that occurred at that elementary school seven years ago — twenty children, six faculty — twenty six families torn apart, we are continuing to demand action.
With the Senate sitting on bipartisan legislation widely supported by the American people, we are demanding action.
In the face of an incredibly powerful lobby, we are demanding action
I know that we can come together, as an entire country, to demand action. We have to, for our children. They’re our future. We owe this to them.
Together, with the advocacy of Moms Demand Action, the Brady Campaign, the bravery of our local law enforcement, our local leaders, and with the safety of our children as our top priority, I know that here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.
We look back, and continue to mourn and remember — but we also look forward, together, with hope.
Thank you, God bless you and our children, and may God continue to bless and watch over the United States of America