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Chairman Nadler Statement for the Hearing on Community Responses to Gun Violence in our Cities

Washington, September 26, 2019

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening remarks during a hearing on preventing gun violence in our cities:

“I thank the Chair of the Subcommittee, Karen Bass, for holding this critical hearing about community-driven strategies to reduce gun violence in our cities across the nation.  This discussion is a critical component of this Committee’s comprehensive approach to addressing our national epidemic of gun violence.

“As we have seen, no American is immune from gun violence.  The spike of mass shooting incidents, high suicide rates, domestic violence incidents, and daily homicides that we have seen in recent years has touched all of our communities.  But gun violence has particularly victimized high-poverty communities of color across the country, with tragic results.     

“Every day in America, 100 people are shot and killed, and 210 more survive gun injuries.  Half of all gun homicides took place in just 127 cities, however, which represented nearly a quarter of the population in the United States.  And these homicides are most prevalent in racially segregated neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.  These communities lose grandparents, mothers, fathers, teens, or young children to gun violence at an alarming rate.  This is simply unacceptable. 

“Today’s hearing is intended to generate a national conversation about gun violence and its destructive impact on our communities.  We must analyze gun violence in America the same way we would analyze a disease, as it is, in fact, a public health issue as well as one of public safety.  Today, we will hear about the scope and gravity of this issue, the root causes of gun violence in specific communities, and local prevention and intervention programs that implement evidence-based violence reduction strategies and that engage all community stakeholders. 

“We must acknowledge and examine the loopholes in the law that allow tens of thousands of guns to enter the illegal market.  The vast majority of these guns are trafficked from states with weak gun laws to states with stronger gun laws.  Also, mayors of cities across the nation are pleading for changes to state firearm preemption laws that block cities, like Chicago, Dayton, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis, from adopting reasonable gun legislation to protect their residents.  

“In addition, the antiquated gun tracing system, severe budget cuts, and laws placing unnecessary restrictions on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have undermined its ability to enforce federal gun laws and regulate the gun industry effectively.

“Strengthening our gun laws is just a start.  Gun violence in our communities is a multifaceted issue that requires a holistic approach.

“Federal, state, and local governments efforts must reflect the need to address this problem comprehensively, investing in evidence-based anti-gun violence programs and ensuring that these programs are tailored to the needs of the communities most affected by this crisis.  

I look forward to hearing the perspectives of our colleagues, Representatives Lacey Clay and Robin Kelly, who represent the St. Louis and Chicago areas, respectively, both of which are directly impacted by chronic gun violence.  I also look forward to hearing from our other expert witnesses about the scope of the problem and what solutions have been proven to work.  Their testimony today will help inform our efforts to take a comprehensive approach to addressing the national emergency of gun violence.  

“I thank the Chair of the Subcommittee for holding this important hearing, and I yield back the balance of my time.”
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