Senator Calls for Long Overdue Reforms to End Scourge of Gun Violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. [3/24/21]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) took to the Senate floor to read the eulogy delivered by Veronique De La Rosa, mother of Noah Poznerwho died at age 6 at the mass shooting at Sandy Hookas a reminder of the human toll caused by gun violence. 

Sen. Smith also implored her Republican colleagues to find their humanity to take action and curb this violence. Sen. Smith believes that Congress must make overdue reforms to protect our communities from gun violence, including banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, closing dangerous loopholes, ensuring universal background checks and funding programs that address the root causes of violence. 

You can watch Sen. Smith’s floor speech here.

In a year with so much heartbreak, grief, and death, it almost escaped notice that we had gone a year without a mass shooting in a public place. But now we face a grim reminder of our American reality,” said Sen. Smith in her remarks from the Senate floor. In the space of a week, two separate mass shootings stole the lives of 18 people.  And just weeks ago we suffered a mass shooting at a health clinic in Minnesota.

“So here we are, once again, thrust into a familiar cycle of collective grief, frustration, and fury. Our hearts break for the families and loved ones of those whose lives were stolen. Our voices cry out for change to end the scourge of gun violence in this country. And our anger grows as our voices are ignored, and we are told by Republican leaders that there is nothing we can do to protect American lives from gun violence.  Colleagues, it is our JOB to protect American lives.

“So I am angry.  I am angry because I know we have the power to stop this violence, and yet our Republican colleagues stand in the way, they refuse to work with us, and they continue to put the demands of the NRA above the demands of the people we are elected to serve – that we stop this horrific gun violence, that we protect the people we were elected to serve. We need universal background checks. We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We need to end this cycle. We need Republicans in Congress to find the strength and humanity to take action.”

You can read Sen. Smith’s remarks as prepared for delivery below and watch her floor speech here.  

Floor Speech: Gun Violence
Senator Tina Smith
March 24, 2021

M. President –

In a year with so much heartbreak, grief, and death, it almost escaped notice that we had gone a year without a mass shooting in a public place. But now we face a grim reminder of our American reality. In the space of a week, two separate mass shootings stole the lives of 18 people.  And just weeks ago we suffered a mass shooting at a health clinic in Minnesota.

So here we are, once again, thrust into a familiar cycle of collective grief, frustration, and fury. Our hearts break for the families and loved ones of those whose lives were stolen. Our voices cry out for change to end the scourge of gun violence in this country. And our anger grows as our voices are ignored, and we are told by Republican leaders that there is nothing we can do to protect American lives from gun violence.  Colleagues, it is our JOB to protect American lives.

Today, I want to share with you the voice of Veronique de la Rosa. Her son Noah, just six years old, was murdered in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary. She delivered this eulogy for her son at his 2012 funeral. I am going to read it in its entirety so that it can be included in the Congressional record and can serve as a reminder of the human toll our gun culture has taken: 

The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day. But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.

Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future. You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. It was your favorite food, and no doubt you wanted to ensure that the world kept producing tacos. 

You were a little boy whose life force had all the gravitational pull of a celestial body. You were light and love, mischief and pranks. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are all of us elevated in our humanity by having known you. A little maverick, who didn’t always want to do his schoolwork or clean up his toys, when practicing his ninja moves or Super Mario on the Wii seemed far more important. 

Noah, you will not pass through this way again. I can only believe that you were planted on Earth to bloom in heaven. Take flight, my boy. Soar. You now have the wings you always wanted. Go to that peaceful valley that we will all one day come to know. I will join you someday. Not today. I still have lots of mommy love to give to Danielle, Michael, Sophia and Arielle. Until then, your melody will linger in our hearts forever. Momma loves you, little man. 

Veronique should not have had to eulogize Noah, her six year old son. One of twenty children killed at Sandy Hook. 

I ask my Republican colleagues to think of her when they suggest families exaggerate their anguish for crude political gain. 

Just yesterday, one of my Republican colleagues dismissed this grief as “theater.”  No. This is life and death.  

So I am angry.  I am angry because I know we have the power to stop this violence, and yet our Republican colleagues stand in the way, they refuse to work with us, and they continue to put the demands of the NRA above the demands of the people we are elected to serve – that we stop this horrific gun violence, that we protect the people we were elected to serve.

We need universal background checks. We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We need to end this cycle.

We need Republicans in Congress to find the strength and humanity to take action.

M. President, I yield the floor.

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