Good morning. My name is Elizabeth Esty, and I represent Connecticut’s Fifth District. And as a new member of Congress, who got started as a PTA mom, who was a first grade room parent, this was an unbelievably difficult situation to walk into.
I want to talk about the cost of inaction. Rob Sibley was in my office the other day. Rob is a volunteer firefighter, many generations in the small community of Sandy Hook, and his wife, Barb, have two children in the Sandy Hook School. He received a call that morning from his wife, who had gone to the school to take some medication to their son, and he got a call saying “Rob, there’s a man coming towards me with a gun. I love you,” and hung up the phone. That is what the people in Newtown, Connecticut are dealing with now.
Grace McDonnell’s parents came to the White House last week. They gave a painting by their daughter, who loves pink. I know my friends and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy joined me in this unbelievably sad parade of funerals for six and seven year olds. Eight of the girls were in the same Girl Scout Troop. Five of the boys were in the same Boy Scout Troop. So imagine—every graduation, every Eagle Scout ceremony those families and all of their friends will be grieving. The pain is not over.
What I’ve heard again and again when I’ve met with families and members of the community of Newtown, and what I’ve heard in the letters and phone calls and emails I’ve been receiving from around the state and around America is that we must take meaningful action to save lives.
What happened in Newtown on December 14, 2012, was an unspeakable tragedy. But what happens now—that is up to us. Newtown must be a call to action for Congress and for all Americans who believe and who know that we can respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and at the same time we can save lives.
Because Newtown has paid and is paying the price of inaction. Because communities across this country and my sad but growing community of fraternity and sorority members of Congress that have lived this in their district, a growing fraternity and sorority of communities that have paid and are paying the price of political inaction. Because we can no longer sit by and let the loss of precious school children, six and seven year olds, and courageous educators go unanswered. We cannot allow the loss of countless of our brothers and sisters and parents who are cut down every day by gun violence.
It is time to act. It is time to renew and strengthen the assault weapons ban and that time is now. I am so proud to join Congressman McCarthy, Congressman Perlmutter in helping to introduce this important legislation in the House of Representatives, and I want to thank my friends and colleagues the senators from Connecticut and enormously to Senator Feinstein, Schumer and Durbin for their leadership.
But make no mistake it’s not just our battle. It is America’s, America’s battle. Senator Durbin asked an incredibly important question. He said, what does it take? What does it take for us, as a nation, to act? I hope, I pray, and I believe that this horror in the little town of Newtown, Connecticut, is our wake-up call. It is our call as American’s to act and to act now. To save lives.