On Thursday, June 13, Esty joined families, advocates, and colleagues to mark the six-month anniversary of the tragedy in Newtown and continue the call for Congressional action to reduce and prevent gun violence.
Thank you to my friend, my colleague, and my neighbor, Chris Murphy; to my senior senator, Richard Blumenthal; to my esteemed leader, Nancy Pelosi, who has done so much to encourage us in the House; and to Senator Harry Reid for his leadership. I particularly want to thank those of you here, to the wonderful Soto children who you’ve heard from, to Gilles Rousseau, proud father of Lauren, another one of the educators who was cut down on that fateful day; and to Po Murray and the Newtown Action Alliance, for your leadership, for your courage, for your efforts, because that is why we are here today.
I am so honored to represent these people. I am so honored to represent the brave people of Newtown. Mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, siblings, friends, neighbors—a community that has endured unimaginable tragedy and unparalleled loss, and who have responded to that loss not with anger and hate—which we could well expect—but with courage, with hope and with love—and I will say with resolve and resilience. A community of people who have stepped up and advocated for common-sense laws to prevent gun violence, to save other communities in this great nation from the pain that they are suffering. You have inspired me. You have inspired me and encouraged me.
And you have inspired people all across our country. You have driven change in Hartford, where a bipartisan package of comprehensive gun reform was enacted to prevent gun violence in this country. You are driving change in state capitals across this country, including Colorado, with some of my colleagues here today.
But here in Washington, here you have encountered inexplicable political cowardice. In the six months since that terrible day, since we lost 26 lives in Newton, Connecticut, nearly 4800 fellow Americans have been cut down by gun violence. In that same time, the House of Representatives has not held a single vote—not a single vote on common-sense efforts to reduce gun violence. Not even a vote on enhance background checks. And 46 senators, as we’ve already heard, blocked an up-or-down vote on that same bill in the Senate.
This is a reform that the families and members of the Newtown community have asked our elected leaders to support, a reform supported by more than 90 percent of the American people. And yet in the face of the shameful obstruction and misinformation, you [pointing to people] and you and you and you and you have refused to give up.
So even though tomorrow we mark a sad and terrible day, the six-month anniversary of that day, seeing all of you here today and having met again with some of the Newtown families this week, I’m filled with renewed hope and I’m filled with renewed conviction that we must get this job done. No elected leader should be able to look Jillian or anyone else from Newtown or from across the country in the eye who lost a loved one to gun violence if they’re not willing to step up, without saying to them, “We have met our obligation. We have met your call to action and the call to action of the American people.”
Because these families cannot forget and will not give up. Neither can we. Neither can the Congress.
It is time for us to take action on common-sense gun laws. It is time to hold an up-or-down vote in the House and in the Senate on enhanced background checks.
I want to thank all you—all of you activists and passionate Americans here today—for everything that you do. I am so honored to stand with you and support you. And as the representative for Newtown in Congress—and more importantly as a mother—I can assure you, I will never give up. I will never surrender. We will keep fighting as long as it takes, wherever it takes, across this country. And for those in Newtown, and for those last week in Santa Monica, who are paying the price for continued political inaction, I tell you, you have strong supporters and we stand strongly with you.