Our Hearts Are Heavy

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May 27, 2022

Dear friend,

The tragedy that took place in Uvalde, Texas is casting a shadow over our country. As a father, I cannot begin to imagine the deep pain in that community and the long healing process that awaits the families who lost loved ones.

Twenty-one souls now rest in heaven after being killed in a school, the place where children and staff are supposed to feel safest outside of their homes.

 

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

Jacklyn Cazares, 9

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

José Manuel Flores Jr., 10

Eliahna García, 10

Irma García, 48

Uziyah García, 10

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Xavier López, 10

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Tess Mata, 10

Miranda Mathis, 11

Eva Mireles, 44

Alithia Ramírez, 10

Annabelle Rodríguez, 10

Maite Rodríguez, 10

Alexandria Rubio, 10

Layla Salazar, 11

Jailah Silguero, 10

Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10

Rojelio Torres, 10

 

I share the anger, frustration and devastation that all of us feel. I know Americans who support commonsense measures like background checks and safe storage laws are tired of words. They want the action we all deserve to keep us safe in schools, movie theaters, places of worship, supermarkets, and all other public spaces.

We will not accept these events as our reality and we will not be numb to another mass shooting. Nothing will bring back these beautiful lives lost, but we have a choice to value human life over the right to use assault weapons. We cannot lose hope and we cannot give up. I promise you that I will not give up.

To honor the lives lost to gun violence in recent days and weeks, I am sharing some my work in Congress to stop these tragic events from happening.

 


Taking Action in Schools to Prevent Self-harm or Harm to Others

 

This past March, President Biden signed the STANDUP Act into law. I introduced this suicide prevention and school threat assessment bill with Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) in the House back in 2019. The law requires states, schools, and Tribes to teach students, teachers, and administrators to identify and address threats before tragedy occurs to receive Project AWARE grants, which promote youth mental health awareness.

The STANDUP Act’s policies are key to stopping school violence and youth suicide by encouraging early prevention, teaching children and adults to heed warning signs, and giving educators and administrators the tools they need to stop violence before it happens.

As the details of what led up to the shooting in Uvalde become clearer, there is no doubt that we need more laws to keep schools safe. I am committed to getting this newly signed law implemented as fast as possible.

 


Urging Swift Votes to Pass Gun Safety Legislation and Confirm ATF Leadership

 

Just last week after the shooting at a Buffalo, NY supermarket that left 10 people dead, I shared details on a letter sent to Minority Leader McConnell to allow a vote in the Senate on two background checks bills that passed the House in March 2021, H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446.

In the tragic aftermath of this week’s deadly shooting, I joined more efforts to curb the deadly gun violence in our country today.

First, I joined my colleagues to call on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin for swift consideration and a confirmation vote on Steven Dettelbach's nomination to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This agency works to stop the illegal trafficking of guns, prevent acts of terrorism, and help keep our communities safe. Due to the lack of a permanent director since 2015, ATF has operated under several acting directors. ATF needs permanent leadership to help fulfill its mission, combat violent crime, and protect public safety.

Second, I signed a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Steny Hoyer, and Whip Jim Clyburn urging them to immediately instruct the Judiciary committee to bring gun violence prevention legislation to markup, then swiftly bring those bills to the House floor for a vote. The American public supports gun violence prevention legislation and is demanding action. It is past time we deliver.

 


Please take care of yourself during this difficult time for our country. Hold your loved ones close and please do not lose hope that things can change. The future of our country depends on it.