WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of Labor Day and four weeks after the mass shootings in Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today delivered this week’s Weekly Democratic Address. In the address, Senator Brown called on Congressional Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump to get to work for the American people by passing commonsense gun safety laws, including the Universal Background Checks bill, which the House passed 184 days ago. Brown has been calling on Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back in August to vote on this legislation, and will continue pushing for Republican leadership to allow a vote on universal background checks.
Brown said that instead of recognizing the problem of gun violence in this country, Congressional Republicans and the President have been taking orders from the NRA, blaming mental illness instead of working to update our laws to save more lives. These Republicans who are stigmatizing mental illness are the same politicians who have repeatedly cut funding for mental health care. Brown argued it is critical that we fight back against the power and money of the gun lobby through collective action and demand that the President and Congressional Republicans finally protect the people they serve.
Senator Brown’s remarks follow:
Hi, I’m Sherrod Brown, United States Senator from Ohio.
I want to wish all American workers a happy Labor Day, and particularly thank all of you who are not able to spend the day with families and friends at picnics and barbeques, because you don’t have the day off. You all work hard to support your families, often for too little pay. That’s why we celebrate the dignity of work, and honor all American workers.
Congress should be at work, too – working to pass commonsense gun safety laws that we so desperately need in our country.
Four weeks ago, less than 14 hours after the tragedy in El Paso, my home state of Ohio woke up to terrible news that nine people had been killed and 27 more injured by another mass shooting – this time in Dayton.
It was the second mass shooting in less than 24 hours in our country and the third in a week
Thanks to the bravery of Dayton police officers, the shooter was stopped within 32 seconds – just 32 seconds he fired 41 shots, taking nine lives and destroying countless others.
There is no reason one man should have been able kill nine people and injure dozens more in less than one minute. Think about that.
When I called the mayor of Dayton, Nan Whaley, she told me she had received calls from mayors all over the country – offering not just condolences, but advice. Think about that – it’s deplorable how many mayors and their communities have been through this before.
Enough. When will it end?
Immediately, Democrats in the Senate began to call on Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the Senate back in to session to start work to come back to Washington and vote on commonsense background checks.
The House passed it 184 days ago. That is six months sitting in the Senate graveyard, this bill. And still Mitch McConnell has refused to allow the Senate to even debate it, let alone vote on it.
In Dayton, at Miami Valley Hospital, I looked President Trump in the eye when he was visiting, when he was visiting the hospital and I implored the President to call McConnell and ask him to hold a vote immediately.
That was more than 23 days ago. More than three weeks ago. President Trump still has not found the courage to stand up to the NRA. For too long, Congress has ignored the millions of Americans, millions of Americans, overwhelming percentage of Americans, who want reasonable gun safety measures, instead he has done the bidding of special interest gun lobbyists
We’ve seen this pattern play out far too many times.
It’s not guns they say, it’s mental illness. But those same politicians repeatedly cut funding for mental healthcare. The President and Congressional Republicans need to stop stigmatizing mental illness, need to stop taking orders from the NRA, need to break their addiction to gun lobby money and need start acting to keep people safe.
People don’t have to keep dying, we have the power, we have the power in Congress right now, come back the day after Labor Day, we have the power to stop it. This shouldn’t be a Republican issue, it shouldn’t be a Democratic issue – this is about keeping Americans safe in their homes, in their workplaces, in their churches, in their schools.
We know what we need to do. All it takes, all it takes, is the political courage to do it. For every mass shooting that makes the headlines, there are so many other Americans whose lives are taken by gun violence who don’t get the same kind of attention. That has to end.
The only way we can fight back against the power and money of the gun lobby is through collective action – millions of ordinary Americans, saying enough, demanding the president lead, and to protect the people he serves.
I think about the words of the people in Dayton after the attack, erupting in chants – “Do Something. Do Something. Do Something.”
That weekend, I joined a rally in my hometown of Cleveland, I looked out on a sea of ordinary people from all over our city, coming together demanding change.
Those activists give me hope.
Change rarely starts in Washington – we make progress because of grassroots movements of Americans all over our country demanding action.
Dr. King said that “progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability.” Progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It rolls in because of ordinary citizens, making your voices heard working for change.
Today I want to tell the president, listen to these Americans.
Mr. President, you owe it to the people of Dayton, and El Paso, and Gilroy, and Virginia Beach, and Thousand Oaks, and Santa Fe, and Parkland, and on and on the tragic list goes.
You owe it to the millions Americans whose lives were taken by gun violence, those millions of Americans who want you to listen and to do something.