Congressman Nadler Statement on House Floor During Democratic Sit-In Demanding Common Sense Gun Legislation

Jun 23, 2016 Issues: Civil Rights, Homeland Security


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) joined with Democratic colleagues to stage a sit-in on the House floor calling on Speaker Ryan and the Republican Leadership to bring forward common sense gun legislation that prohibits the sale of firearms to anyone on the terrorist watch list and closes the gun show loophole. The following statement was delivered on the House floor late last night -- and recorded by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) -- as Democrats continue to demand action on gun control following the most deadly mass shooting in American history at an LGBT night club in Orlando, FL:

            “So let me start by thanking again John Lewis, Katherine Clark and David Cicilline for bringing us together for this debate. This debate is not a new debate. Some of us have been involved in it for a long time. I briefly chaired a sub-committee on gun control in New York State assembly in 1979. Not much has changed. We were then the capital of gun violence and we are still. No other country in the world other than those involved in active wars have gun deaths more than 3 digits, 132. 75. We have 33,000 a year. We’re told this is because of insanity.  Because we have a lot of mentally ill people.  But we don’t have thousands of times of mentally ill people as other countries.

            “Now we know what we have to do.

            “I spoke on the floor about 14 hours ago, and I didn’t anticipate speaking again. And I’ve listened all day to emotional appeals, to factual appeals, and they’re very affecting.

            “But I heard we’re not going to get anything done - not as long as the politics are as they are, not as long as the Republican party is in the majority and is enthralled to the NRA, we’re not going to pass, unfortunately, an assault weapons ban. We’re going to continue letting anybody have access to military weapons designed to kill as many people as possible-that’s a political reality. We’re not going to change, we’re not going to change and prohibit large capacity clips.

            “But we can do two minor things. And all we’re asking is two very minor things. No Fly No Buy. No Fly No Buy and closing the background check loopholes. No Fly No Buy came to the floor again because I heard the Speaker of the House spout nonsense a few hours ago. What did he say? He said two things. He said that this was a political stunt.  It is not a political stunt.  It’s the only way we know how to bring this subject up in a way that might force some action. Secondly, he said, “we’re not going to do No Fly No Buy because we have to worry about the due process rights of people we will deprive the right to have guns”. Well I am very concerned with due process rights. I’m one of the most concerned people. I opposed the Patriot Act because I was worried about due process rights. I proposed to restrict National Security letters because I was worried about due process rights. Along with Bob Goodlatte and Sensenbrenner and John Conyers we wrote the surveillance reform act because of due process rights.

            “But that’s not real here. What you’re really saying, what the Republicans are saying, what the Speaker was saying, is that, okay, you can be judged a dangerous person, so dangerous we won’t let you get on an airplane, but because of due-process rights, because of concern over due-process, we can’t deprive you of the ability to buy a gun. What about your due-process rights to get on the airplane? Isn’t it a burden on someone to say, you can’t fly anywhere? The question is: do we impose that burden without adequate due-process? Maybe. I don’t think so, but maybe. But whatever the due process rights are that should be adequate to say you can’t get on an airplane, they should be adequate to say you can’t buy a gun. If they’re not adequate, change them both. But it shouldn’t be an excuse to say we will not permit you to get on an airplane because we’re satisfied you’re a terrorist, or high risk of terrorism, but not sufficiently satisfied to make sure that you shouldn’t buy a gun.

            “We should adhere to due process. We should make sure that before we say you can’t buy a gun, before we say you can’t get on an airplane, you should have your due-process rights, you should have an administrative or court appeal. But there’s no reason to make that more stringent for the guns than for the airplane ride. And it is certainly no reason to say that while we will apply the law and prohibit you from getting on an airplane, we won’t have a law prohibiting terrorists, or people we think are terrorists, or at high risk of terrorism, from owning a gun because we’re worried about due-process rights.

            “Due-process rights are real and they’re important and they’re vital, but they’re no more real and vital for someone who wants to buy a gun than for someone who wants to get on an airplane. That’s no excuse. It’s saying that we’re using that as an excuse to put the lives of our children and our brothers and our sisters at risk, for no good reason. As Joe Crowley said before, we are prepared to discuss and debate the due-process rights on a bill, on a no-fly no-buy bill. But they should be no different than the due-process rights on the no-fly which we already have. Maybe they’re inadequate, maybe they’re adequate, that we can discuss. But there’s no reason to say we shouldn’t have a gun restriction because of due-process, when we say we can’t allow you to get on an airplane. That’s just an excuse, and it shouldn’t prohibit us from taking a vote on this bill. We should have a vote, we should have a discussion if need be by a vote, and not use due-process as an excuse to support mass murder in this country.”