Groups Advocate for Gun Control at US Capitol Building Following Uvalde School Shooting

Activist groups called on lawmakers to enact stricter gun laws at a rally in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 26, two days after a gunman entered a Texas elementary school and killed 21 people.

Everytown for Gun Safety streamed footage live to Facebook from the Rally for More Than Thoughts and Prayers at the US Capitol on Thursday morning.

Everytown wrote that the Senate “owes us more than thoughts and prayers to end our country’s gun violence crisis.” They gathered in Washington with other gun-control groups including Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, as well as Senators Chris Murphy, Richard Blumenthal, Ed Markey, Alex Padilla, Sheldon Whitehouse, and Amy Klobuchar, and representatives including Lisa Blunt Rochester.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the shooting on Tuesday. Police identified the suspect as an 18-year-old Uvalde resident who authorities said was shot and killed by law enforcement. Credit: Everytown for Gun Safety via Storyful

Video transcript

- [? I am ?] [? very ?] blessed to be alive and thankful to be alive and grateful. But there's so many people that have not made it through gun violence. And my support is with the gun victim's family and the survivors. Now, I want the Senate to fix-- the Republicans mainly-- to pass the bill and the law.

[CHEERING]

Pass the bill and the law now, not later, now. We want it now, not later, now. We need them to pass the bill now. H.R.8 background check now. Yes, now. We need it now. Pass the bill now. Pass the bill, H.R.8 now. Pass the bill H.R.8 now.

- Now. Now. Now. Now. Now. Now.

- [INAUDIBLE] That's a [? fact. ?] We need all the prayers and hope we can get. But we're tired. We're tired. We're tired of thoughts and prayers. We need action now. We need action. We need action. We need action. We need action. We need action. [INAUDIBLE] we have to do something now. [INAUDIBLE].

- Action. Action. Action. Action Action. Action. Action.

- Yes, we don't need [INAUDIBLE] to go on vacation for two weeks. No. No. No. Do your job. Do you job. You get paid a whole lot of money, but what are you doing-- what are you doing with it? You do not earn your pay. Earn your pay. Yes, because you're not doing anything for [INAUDIBLE]. Thank you. Have a good day.

[CHEERING]

- [INAUDIBLE] We're going to go ahead and get started in just about two minutes. [INAUDIBLE].

[INAUDIBLE]

[CHEERING]

[CHEERING]

[CHANTING]

- Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for coming out today. My name is [? Addie Rosario ?] [? Hernandez, ?] and I'm a student [INAUDIBLE] from Texas. Coming to you today under these circumstances is absolutely devastating. As a Texas resident and as an Afro-Latina, the shooting in the Valley and the shooting in Buffalo last week are personal to me in more than one way.

But unfortunately, I was not shocked by what happened on Tuesday. Gun violence is made me fear. I fear losing a loved one. I fear being the loved one lost. I fear for my family, for my friends.

I fear for the Latinx community. I fear for the Black community. I fear for every community and for every student living in this country. I fear for every person living in this nation.

We need to realize that this pattern keeps repeating itself. Every day, my friends and I live with the fear of being gunned down, not just in schools, but in our communities. The headlines are endless, endless. And knowing that there's so much more that is not making the headlines is absolutely gut-wrenching.

I can't even tell you what my first active shooter drill was. It was the first time I felt unsafe in the world. Why is this acceptable? Why are we being forced to grow up this way?

Too many leaders have decided that being gunned down in our schools, grocery store, our communities is fine. But today, we're standing up and speaking out. Enough is enough.

[CHEERING]

We need more than thoughts and prayers. We demand action from our lawmakers. I am an advocate for safety, common sense, and awareness. And I know that with love, unity, and perseverance, we can change our current situation.

And do not lose hope. Be filled with hope because people like you and your actions make a change. The culture is shifting, and the narrative is changing, so let's find empowerment through action. Let's learn together, and let's fight together because we can and we will demand action for change.

And today, I'm here to be proud to be in front of a capital demanding action. And across the country, my fellow students [INAUDIBLE] volunteers are also demanding action at home. They're getting ready to walk out of the classroom in protest of gun violence against children and teens. Students from California, to Texas, to Vermont are walking out today. They're walking out in the middle of class, tests, and lunch, and more because we know that there's nothing more important than standing up for our lives.

This walkout isn't about politics. And it's not about blue versus red. We do not care about that. It's about trying to make sure that when you walk into school, we can expect to walk out that day.

And right now, we cannot say that. That's disgusting. I am grateful that we're joined by Gun Sense champions in the Senate who actually care about me, who care about us. I'm grateful to the other speakers, survivors, and advocates that are here today and for the millions of others who are doing this work across the country. We are in this fight together, and we will win.

We cannot allow for this type of violence to be normal. Students are doing their part right now. And we are demanding that lawmakers and adults do the same. With that, I would start the program and pass it to our first speaker, founder of Moms Demand Action, Shanann Watts.

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, [? Addie. ?] We are here today because we are devastated. We are angry. And we want our senators to do their jobs.

[CHEERING]

- Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job.

SHANNON WATTS: We are also here to honor victims and survivors of gun violence with action. I know we are frustrated, but now is not the time to lose energy or hope. Now is the time to use our voices and our collective power because what other choice do we have? And that is why we're here today. Our eight million supporters across the country are demanding to know how many more children, mothers, fathers, teachers, and neighbors have to die before the Senate acts?

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

SHANNON WATTS: We are begging, begging our elected officials to do something, anything, to address America's gun violence crisis. They have enabled this. They are enabling gun violence with their inaction.

We know how to stop this. We know how to keep people safe while they're grocery shopping, while they're in school, while they're worshipping. So we ask our senators, who do you work for?

[CHEERING]

Do you work for the 90% of Americans who support common sense gun safety laws, or do you work for gun manufacturers who pad your pockets and protect your power while over 110 Americans are shot and killed every day? Take a look at the sea of red shirts. We are growing stronger every day, and we are not going anywhere.

[CHEERING]

If I learned anything from the courageous gun violence survivors who show up and do this work every single day, it's this. We will win this fight because parents fighting to keep their kids safe will always outorganize, outwork, and outvote gun lobby executives fighting for their profits. We will never give up.

[CHEERING]

It gives me great hope that we have such strong Gun Sense champions standing here with us today. And now it is my honor to introduce our friend and partner in this fight, Senator Chris Murphy.

[CHEERING]

CHRIS MURPHY: Thank you, Shannon. Thank you, Shannon. We are not going to allow this to become the new normal. We are not prepared to allow our schools to continue as killing fields.

We are not prepared to allow the gun lobby and the gun industry to continue to run this town and this place. We are never, ever going to give up until we make our schools, we make our shopping malls, we make the streets of this country a safe place to live and work. We are never, ever giving up until we win this fight.

[CHEERING]

And this is a choice. This is not inevitable. This is not unchangeable. We are the only country in the world in which our kids go to school wondering whether they will survive the day.

My fourth grader yesterday had to have conversations all day at school with his classmates that no child, that number 10-year-old should have to have. And he is forced to have those conversations with his friends about where they will hide, about where they will run because of decisions that are made in this place. And we're going to change those decisions.

[CHEERING]

We are going to do two things. First, we are going to extend a hand of partnership to those who have been sitting on the sidelines, to those who have chosen to side with the gun lobby. We are going to offer them a seat at the table.

Today, we will be engaged in bipartisan conversations to try to find a path forward to make our streets safer, to make our schools safer. And our goal, and our hope, and our belief is that we can find that common ground and that we will be facilitated in finding that common ground by a popular uprising of citizens. who are going to make clear that if you don't do the right thing here, you aren't coming back here.

[CHEERING]

But if we don't succeed, if we don't succeed, we're having votes, we're putting people on the record. One way or the other, we're going to have a debate here.

We are going to force people to tell America which side they are on. So we are going to work our tails off to try to get that compromise. But we are not going away.

We are not being silent. And let me just say this before I turn this over to my brilliant colleagues. I know this is a moment where a lot of people feel a sense of hopelessness. I know folks feel this moment of deja vu. We've been hear over, and over, and over again.

I'm looking at so many of my friends here from Sandy Hook. I don't know how they get up every single day and go back to work in this movement. But what I also know is that the great social change movements in this country, the ones that you read about in the history books, they don't succeed in a year or two years.

They often take time. Sometimes they take a decade or more. Sometimes they get met with these huge obstacles, these setbacks.

But they are so confident in the righteousness of their cause, they are so confident that the status quo will finally break, that they never ever give up. And we are never, ever giving up. Thank you, moms.

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator Murphy. And now I would like to introduce Senator Murphy's colleague from Connecticut, Senator Blumenthal.

[CHEERING]

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: Thank you. Thank you. To the American people, this is what a political movement looks like. This is what a civil rights movement looks like. And what we see here is America rising up and saying, enough is enough.

[CHEERING]

When--

- Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: I want to thank all the leaders who are here, my colleague, but most important, Everytown, Moms Demand Action. What we're seeing is grassroots groups organizing, doing the work in the trenches to hold colleagues accountable. And make no mistake-- let me be very blunt.

Gun violence prevention is going to be on the ballot this November. It will be on the ballot this November. And we need to make it a decisive issue, a decisive issue. And we will vote them out if they fail to vote the right way.

Now, I want to say a word to the families of Ulvade because Senator Murphy and I were at Sandy Hook on that devastating afternoon almost 10 years ago when parents learned that their little children would not be coming home that night. And it leaves a hole in people's hearts. It rips apart a community. And every one of these shootings, every one of the massacres that goes to the headlines is devastating for those people.

And they will never fully recover. But the Sandy Hook families have shown the strength and courage to come here year, after year, after year. And I am in awe of the courage and strength of those survivors who have been, really, the wind beneath our wings as we have fought this battle. And we owe them such thanks. And I thank them.

[CHEERING]

But we know what we have to do. There are a lot of mysteries in this world. There are a lot of scientific questions that are difficult to discern. We know what can save lives. Background checks can save lives.

Universal background checks-- and I want to thank my colleague, Chris Murphy for championing background checks, universal background checks. We need them. And red flag statutes. I wrote a red flag statute with my colleague, Senator [? Graham, ?] right after Parkland more than three years ago.

There's no mystery about taking away a firearm, a weapon, from someone who shows they are dangerous to themselves or others, someone who says, I'm going to kill people or I'm going to kill myself. A red flag statute is an imperative. And we have the language in the draft. There's no mystery here. And I want to see a vote on the floor of the United States Senate on background checks and a red flag statute.

[CHEERING]

The women in this country who are survivors of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed when there's a gun in the house. I want to see protection for domestic violence survivors like [? Lauren ?] Jackson of Connecticut, who perished from her estranged husband. And innocent children every day in their own homes play with guns who are left unsecured. They're left out in the open every day.

Kids are shot by, quote unquote, "accident." That's no accident. That's no accident. We need a safe storage law to protect them, Ethan's Law, that will protect them.

Ghost guns are one of the biggest emerging threats. Law enforcement says that they're used to intimidate police at the local and state level. Ghost guns are untraceable. They're mostly crime guns. We need a law that bans ghost guns, not just the presidential executive order.

So I want to see the first two votes on background checks and a red flag statute. And I want to see where my colleagues stand. And every one of them will be held accountable if they fail to vote the right way.

So we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of work to do. And I want to say a word to the gun lobby. Your days are numbered.

[CHEERING]

You are-- you are on the wrong side of history. And you will see your power broken simply because you have overreached. You no longer represent gun owners. You no longer represent even your members. You no longer represent the public interest.

You are a danger to society and to America if you continue to oppose the commonsense measures. And breaking the grip of a bankrupt lobby that seeks to intimidate and threaten my colleagues is part of what we need to do. And we will win.

Not only we won't back down, we won't back down. We're not going away. But we will win this fight because we have you on our side. Thank you for being here. Thank you, to Everytown. Thank you, [INAUDIBLE].

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator Blumenthal. And now I want to introduce a longtime Gun Sense champion from Massachusetts, Senator Ed Markey.

[CHEERING]

ED MARKEY: Thank you so much. Thank you to Everytown. Thank you to Moms Demand Action. Thank you to every activists and army of activists that has risen up across our country to fight the NRA, to fight the Republican Party.

The Republican Party is within a vise-like grip of the NRA. They do whatever the NRA tells them that they should do. What the American people want is for NRA to stand for not relevant anymore in American politics.

[CHEERING]

They want-- they want the Republicans who work in this building to finally have the courage to stand up to the NRA, to finally stand up for the families in our country. They demand-- stand up.

Stand up. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up. Stand up.

ED MARKEY: This is the historic moment. This is the turning point. This is not just any longer a moment. It is now a movement, a movement across our country, so that we don't have to worry that children will be cowering in their classrooms, that shoppers will be running through the aisles of shopping centers worried that they or their loved ones could be killed.

This is the moment now where we have to ensure that a Republican Party which opposes background checks, which opposes red flag laws, which opposes the simplest protections that ensure that those who should not have guns in our society do not get access to them. And then what do we hear from them? We hear the red herring that there are mental health issues here that have to be dealt with. That's the underlying cause.

Well, every industrialized country has citizens with mental health issues, but they do not have an epidemic of gun violence in their country. The difference-- the difference between the United States and the other countries in the world is that those who want to do harm to their neighbors have access to weapons of mass destruction that only belong on the battlefields of the [INAUDIBLE] of the world and not on the streets of the United States.

[CHEERING]

The senators who are here all have an F rating from the NRA. The legislators who have to answer to the American people all have in A as a grade from the NRA. History tells us that the Republican Party will hope that over the next 10 or 12 days, this movement will die down, and the issue will just go away.

Well, I say to all of my Republican colleagues, this time is different. This time, the American people understand that they have to ensure that on the ballot this November, that gun safety is on the ballot. And if you do not change your mind, the American people are going to change you as their representative in the United States Congress.

[CHEERING]

[CHANTING]

ED MARKEY: And finally, let me just say, we have to take very seriously the threat, which an illegitimate far-right Supreme Court poses to gun safety in our country. We have to expand the Supreme Court to get back the two stolen seats that the Republicans and Donald Trump took from the American people, so that we can ensure that when we put gun safety laws on the books, they are not overridden by the Supreme Court of the United States.

This is the time. This is the place. These are the people who are about to change our country once and for all and our relationship with the gun lobby in our country. Thank you all for everything that you are about to do.

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator Markey. And now, I'd like to introduce another Gun Sense champion, my Senator from the state of California, Senator Alex Padilla.

[CHEERING]

ALEX PADILLA: Thank you, Senator. Thank you everybody who's here. Thank you for your passion. Thank you for your advocacy. Thank you for your activism. We will win.

[CHEERING]

I'm Senator Alex Padilla from California, and I am here to do my job. You're going to vote on these [? measures. ?] But we're not going to give up until we bring common sense gun safety legislation. Our hearts go out to the people of Laguna Woods in Southern California, the people in Buffalo, New York more recently, and of course, to the parents, the classmates, the co-workers of the 19 students and two teachers who perished in Ulvade, Texas this week.

Yes, we offer our condolences. Yes, we offer our thoughts and prayers. But thoughts and prayers alone is not enough to prevent future tragedies from happening.

[CHANTING]

I'm here-- and I want to be clear about this. I want to be clear about this because it's about time for my kids to start school in California with the time change. I'm here as a US Senator, also here as a father, like Senator Murphy, to young children, school-aged children-- my two youngest are the same age. They could have been in that classroom [INAUDIBLE]. So yes, this is personal.

The question here this morning is to our Senate Republican colleagues. How is this acceptable? How are you not outraged? We are outraged.

And no, putting more armed adults in schools is not the answer. If more guns was the answer, the United States of America would be the safest nation in the world. But it's not.

It's the only country where students go to school fearing for their safety. It's the only country where people wonder about their safety going into a house of worship. It's the only country in the world where people wonder whether it's safe to go to the grocery store or the shopping mall.

More guns is not the answer. We know the answers. You've heard it, assault weapons ban, advanced background check, get rid of large capacity magazines, red flag laws, and more. We need to bring this legislation to a vote and hold every member of the Senate accountable because I refuse to sit idly by and watch our children die to gun violence in schools and in our communities. And briefly-- you're about to find out what it means to be a Senator from California because I get to deliver some remarks en espanol as well.

[CHEERING]

[SPEAKING SPANISH]

Thank you very, very much.

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator Padilla. And now I'd like to introduce Rhode Island US Senator, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.

[CHEERING]

SHELDON WHITEHOUSE: Thank you all so much for being here. Thank you to moms. Thank you to every town. Thank you to Students Demand Action. Thank you to senators Murphy and Blumenthal for their passionate work in this effort after the catastrophe at Sandy Hook.

It is not enough to end the gore and the carnage in America's classrooms. We need to fight for an America where you don't have to have active shooter drills in schools. And a lot of us are here fed up, angry, frustrated. And one of the things that frustrates us is that the waves of our passion, the waves of our grief, the waves of our anger as these shootings take place over and over again, those waves break against the rock of the National Rifle Association's political dominion over the Republican Party.

We have to break that grip. We have to have a long game the way they have a long game. When passions are subsided, the NRA is still out there relentlessly building the political wall for our passions to break against. And we have to take them on and do that back.

And I will tell you one of the tools that they use is dark political money. And if we get rid of dark political money, we will take away some of the power of the NRA. And while we're at it, by the way, it was dark political money that packed that court right there.

It is dark political money that is paying for voter suppression against minority voters all around the country. It is dark political money that is behind climate denial and obstruction of this crisis. There is a common theme behind so much of our frustration and incapacity. And it is that the other side has weaponized dark money, so that our schools need to be weaponized.

So I'm with you all the way, but let's keep our eye on that long game. And let's disable and disarm the fraudulent dark money operations that oppose us. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator. Now I am honored to introduce the US Senator from Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar.

[CHEERING]

AMY KLOBUCHAR: Thank you. Thank you so to the Moms Demand Action. You're everywhere. To Students Demand Action, thank you for standing with us for gun safety and to protect the people of this country because that is-- that's what this is about in the end. We are once again here in the wake of a tragedy.

We're here because of 21 empty beds tonight in Texas. We're here because of 10 empty chairs at the dinner table in Buffalo. We're here because we have lost more than 2,900 people in this country in mass shootings just since Sandy Hook. And we say today, enough is enough.

- Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough. Enough is enough.

AMY KLOBUCHAR: When you look at the pictures of these kids from Robb Elementary it shatters you, the sports uniforms, the first communion dress, the glasses, the smiles. In some photos, they were holding awards that they had just won that morning. That's how immediate, that's how real this is.

And the reason this is called Everytown is that it happens in every town. It happens in Florida. It happens in Connecticut.

It happens in Texas. It happens in Minnesota. And we have asked our colleagues over and over again to reach deep into the hearts and to do what is right. And I am so appreciative that our colleague, Senator Murphy and others are going to continue to work over the next 10 days to get an agreement with Republicans. That's a good thing. That's a good thing, that they're willing to work because you're never going to get anything done if you don't drop, OK?

And you always hope that every single time, there's going to be a change of their heart. But if there isn't a change of their heart, then we will vote, and we will vote. We will vote when we come back. And we will march all the way to the ballot box and vote because in the end, we know their number.

And believe me, the Republican Party is looking at the numbers just like we are, the numbers of people that want to see background checks, 80%, 90% of the public is with us. Then what is wrong over there in that building? That's what I said when I went over to the White House after Parkland.

I was in the small group of senators, Democrats, and Republicans that met with the former President, President Trump after Parkland. And on a piece of paper-- and I still have it at home with hash marks-- I wrote down how many times he said that he was for universal background checks. He said it then. He said it once. He said it twice.

He said it three times. And in the end, nine hash marks. He said it nine times. And do you know what happened the next day? He went and he met with the NRA, and he changed his mind.

Well, this year, this election year, we are not going to tolerate people just saying they changed their minds, not when we have those 21 empty beds in the state of Texas. I come from a proud hunting state. We have a lot of hunters in our state. And I can tell you right now, my uncle decking his deer stand, he does not need an AK-47.

[CHEERING]

[INAUDIBLE] any rational person that looks at this and say, how come an 18-year-old could go out there and buy that type of gun? How come they could get an assault weapon? That is why we have long stood for sensible background checks, for red flag laws, for, yes, closing the [? boyfriend ?] loophole, which is my bill that got 30 Republican votes in the House. And then got cut out of the United States Senate because the Republicans in the Senate wouldn't let it be part of the domestic violence bill.

Enough of this. They literally were standing up for domestic violence offenders and saying that they could have guns. It never ends.

And so no, 18-year-olds should not be getting assault weapons. And we will take that to the [INAUDIBLE] this week. This next week will be a referendum on that, on sensible gun laws, on getting this done. And we will see if they come back from hearing from the people in their districts and in their states and they come back and join us in some common sense gun safety legislation.

This is our moment. That's the pressure point. And as those funerals go on and you see more of those pictures of those kids in their communion dresses and in their baseball uniforms, every single time, I want you all to think, that 18-year-old didn't have to go out and get an assault weapon.

This is completely preventable. So let's get to work. And when we get back, if they don't join us, we march right to the ballot box. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: Thank you, Senator Klobuchar. Now I would like to introduce Delaware Congresswoman, Lisa Blunt Rochester.

[CHEERING]

LISA BLUNT ROCHESTER: I wasn't even scheduled to be here. I'm not a Senator. I'm a member of the House of Representatives where we did our work.

[CHEERING]

And we still have work to do. I wasn't supposed to be here. I was called here for a meeting. I took the train. I stopped.

I wore orange today not knowing what was going to take place. But I'm a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. And so for us, our hearts are with the families today. But we also know that in addition to these mass shootings that are happening all too frequently, every day, every hour, in our communities, in our neighborhoods, people are being shot. [INAUDIBLE] And so today, I'm just here to stand in solidarity because not only am I a member of the House, not only am I a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, I'm a mom who's demanding action.

[CHEERING]

So everything that's already been said, my message is just this. It's all been said about voting, and about the courts, and-- I want people to know we do this because we love our children, we love our seniors, we love our community members, we love our country, and that love is more powerful, more powerful, than hate. So [INAUDIBLE].

[CHEERING]

SHANNON WATTS: That was powerful. And now I'm honored to introduce US Senator from New York, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

[CHEERING]

KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND: Thank you all for rallying in front of the capital. It really matters. This has been a moment of fear, and anger, and tears, and fury. It is crippling to be this angry and this infuriated by the lack of action by people who hold all the power.

It is a disgrace in this country that Congress cannot, cannot overcome the greed and corruption of the gun lobby. It is an outrage that they cannot stand up to the NRA and those who want to give weapons to anyone at any time for any reason. It is an outrage that in the last two weeks, two 18-year-old men can walk into a store and buy military-style weapons when they cannot walk into a store and buy cigarettes.

It is an outrage, an outrage, that an 18-year-old man can buy a military-style weapon that our military trains our service members for years on how to properly, properly, to use them. To drive a car, you have to train. You have to get a license.

We have so many requirements on 18-year-olds, but not on the ability to borrow a military-style weapon that is designed solely to kill large numbers of people quickly in a moment of war. They should not be allowed to buy these weapons, period, because the truth is an 18-year-old cannot go buy a tank.

An 18-year-old cannot go buy a shoulder-powered missile. An eight-year-old cannot even rent a car. But he is yet allowed to buy a military style weapon that is designed to kill large numbers of people very quickly. No one should. No one should be allowed to buy military-style weapons in the civilian, world period.

[CHEERING]

[? So ?] community after community in this country has suffered, has suffered so dearly. I was in Buffalo with President Biden where he came to console these families, to talk to these families, to empathize with their loss. And I met the three-year-old whose father went to the grocery store just to buy him a birthday cake, who lost his life doing that simple, simple fatherly thing.

So it's just a moment of rage, and fury, and tears, and anger, but you must motivate yourselves and take all that fury and channel it to the next election. Everything changes when we change who is in power. Everything changes when we have people who will stand with us. Everything changes when we have [INAUDIBLE] laws supporting us. So fight, fight for this election like your life depends on it because it truly does.

[CHANTING]

SHANNON WATTS: Now I'm going to turn it back to my colleague, [INAUDIBLE] Students In Action, [? Audie. ?]

[CHEERING]

- Hi, everyone. I just want to thank everyone again for being here today and for speaking out. And now, I'm proud to introduce our amazing community justice Action Fund partner, [? Greg ?] [? Dustin. ?]

[CHEERING]

- First of all, I just want to thank Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action, Everytown. But I'll be honest. We're late.

You know, I was shot in April of 2013. And the bullet that hit me hit two arteries. It took six months of recovery. But I'll never forget after my first surgery, I looked down at my mutilated leg, and I looked up at the television, and I heard the Senate making excuses about why they couldn't pass the background checks bill.

Since then, a million people, a million people have been shot or killed by gun violence. Since then, our economy has lost $2.8 billion to gun violence. We're late.

And those a million people are not numbers. One was my neighbor, [? Davon ?] [? McNeil, ?] who got shot playing at the age of 10, [? Makaya ?] Wilson, who was shot getting ice cream, [INAUDIBLE] Brown, who was shot selling water bottles by a grown man, who held his own peace rally to stop the gun violence two weeks before he was shot and killed.

[? Kat ?] [? Massie, ?] who wrote an article in Buffalo about ending gun violence just to be shot and killed by a white supremacist. Roberta [? Drury, ?] who was leaving behind her young daughter. I was at the vigil in Buffalo.

Her daughter was holding flowers, too young to even know what was happening, trying to cheer up her family members, smiling, joking, didn't even realize her mother was stolen from her. Where's the action for that mother? Where's the action?

[APPLAUSE]

We are late. The Senate is late. Congress is late. People are dying. Today, people are burying their grandmothers in Buffalo.

Mothers in Uvalde are trying to figure out how they're going to bury their children, children. And we're trying to figure out when is the right time. We're late. The time is now.

- The time is now. The time is now. The time is now. The time is now. The time is now. The time is now. The time is now.

- We had a conversation with Senator Schumer this morning. And I'm sure all of y'all have heard about the timing, the timing. We got to get the timing right, the timing right, the timing right. The American people do not believe that the senator is going to do anything about this. They don't believe that Congress is going to do anything about this.

The people at Buffalo that are looking for food to eat, they don't believe the government is coming to save them. So we have to fight. He's giving them 10 days, 10 days to stand up for the people of Buffalo, 10 days to stand up for the families in Ulvade, 10 days to deal with the 212 mass shootings that happened this year, 10 days to deal with the 100,000 people that are shot or killed every year, 10 days to deal with the 35% increase in homicides since 2019, 10 days to deal with the number one cause of death for you, 10 days to deal with the number one cause of death for Black men, 10 fucking days.

[CHEERING]

- Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job. Do your job.

- I don't know about you all-- I don't know about you all, but I work hard every day. Everyone here works hard. The camera people here work hard. The janitors here work hard. The security work hard. The people serving the food, we work hard.

And if we show up to work late, what happens? We're out. We're out. They've been late. So they've got 10 days. And if they don't take action, guess what? They're out. Vote them out. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

- Vote them out. Vote them out. Vote them out. Vote them out.

- Thank you for that. That was extremely powerful. And now, I'm going to introduce the Stoneman Douglas survivor, [INAUDIBLE].

[CHEERING]

- Thank you. And I want to thank all the senators and representatives who are on our side and they're supporting gun violence prevention. Like so many of you who spoke before, I wish I wasn't here. I wish I didn't have to talk about the worst day of my life. I wish I didn't know the emotions and feelings that those kids in Texas are going through right now.

But as a survivor of the mass shooting in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I sadly know the reality that those students are suffering through right now. I'm heartbroken by this latest shooting, but I'm also livid. Whether it's inside the classroom or outside in the neighborhoods, more and more children are dying because of gun violence.

Gun violence is not a number one leading cause of death for children in the United States. So shame on the people who watched my friends and classmates die at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and continued not to act. Shame on the lawmakers who promised to protect us and now have tighter connections to the gun lobby than ever before. Shame on them. They are not representing what their constituents believe.

More than 90% of Americans support background checks. But these representatives are deciding to put politics over children and the people they represent. So to the lawmakers who will not listen to their constituents, at least listen to your conscience. Please do not wait until it happens to your child.

And if you think your community is invincible, from personal experience, I know it's not. These shootings can happen anywhere as long as we continue to let people with guns get guns without background checks. This time, we will not be denied action. We will continue fighting like hell because this is life or death for our generation. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

- Thank you, [INAUDIBLE], for that. And now, we're going to hear from the Sandy Hook Elementary School survivor, [? Erica ?] [? Lafferty. ?]

[APPLAUSE]

[? ERICA LAFFERTY: ?] To be honest, I didn't think I was going to come today. Everything about the shooting at Robb Elementary reminds me of the day my mom, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, the principal of Sandy Hook, was murdered protecting her students and faculty. When I heard about the shooting in Texas on Tuesday, I told myself that I was going to step back. [? Erica, ?] you need to take time. You got to process this.

I wanted to step away and just not deal with it publicly. So I did that for about five minutes until I literally heard my mom's voice in my head saying that I cannot sit this one out. I knew then that that is when I needed to make my voice heard because enough is enough, and the time to act is now. The time to act was 10 damn years ago when my mom was gunned down in the hall of an elementary school.

I remember the day that my mother was murdered like it was yesterday. When I found out that there was a shooting at her school, I knew that there was no way she wouldn't protect her students and faculty no matter what, no matter what the cost. I knew those kids and her colleagues meant absolutely everything to her. And I felt it deep down as soon as the news broke, she wasn't making it out alive.

Many of the families in Texas today, in Buffalo last week, and tomorrow, next year, and 10 years from now will be feeling this unimaginable loss that only people in gun violence survivors club can understand. I know that nothing could ever be done to bring my mother back, but I sure as hell can honor her with action. And that is why I got out of bed. And that is why I'm here today.

How many more kids and educators need to die in our schools before lawmakers act? How many people need to continue to die while grocery shopping, while picking up birthday cakes for their three-year-old while walking down their city streets? We deserve to learn and to live without fear of being shot to death.

But thanks to our weak gun laws and the gun lobby's relentless guns everywhere agenda, nowhere is safe, and no one is immune. We must take action now. I hate that I have to be here today because it means that others have been stolen from their families, their lives have been taken by this incredibly preventable public health crisis.

But I feel grateful to be here with so many allies and so many leaders. And my fellow survivors, my heart goes out to you. But I refuse to let my mother's death be just another statistic. And I absolutely refuse to let the last 10 years of work by all these people behind me to be in vain. Thank you.

[CHEERING]

- [INAUDIBLE] we have Reverend [? Emmanuel ?] [? Lipstone. ?]

[CHEERING]

- You know, too often, we sit around and we act like this isn't a problem. Gun violence has existed in America before there was a United States. My grandfather, who signed the treaties that allowed for the colonists to come, he was forced into those treaties because of gun violence. And when he signed the third treaty, he was shot in the back and killed.

You know, I'm just saying, you know-- excuse me. I'm a little emotional. I'm a little emotional because recently, we've been finding mass graves in this area in Rock Creek Park in Maryland. And they don't even pay attention to it. Those are my ancestors that are in those graves. Those are our ancestors in their graves.

They're not just Afro, Indigenous people. They are British. They are Quakers. They are French. They are people from all across this world.

Make America great. Is America great [INAUDIBLE]. [? I'll ?] [? say, ?] when was America great? America was great because they had all the gun violence that came to America that pushed the people into slavery, pushed the people into oppression. [INAUDIBLE]

A bullet doesn't know what race you are. A bullet doesn't know what party you are. A bullet just knows death and injury. You know, there's a little saying, when you have an event, and you want it to end on time, don't ask a minister to speak. And I'm going to do my best.

You know, there was a whole bunch of things I was going to talk about me being five and six and my mom told me to be on the floor because somebody stole his daddy's gun, or being in middle school and coming to my first party and seeing the principal being on the ground because he was shot in the face and was dying. And honestly, there's just too many occurrences of gun violence in our community.

People often tell us stories about how their lives, their senses of safety was shattered by their first brush of gun violence. And I completely understand. But for me and many folks in our country, especially those that grow up in the inner city, it's like, these experiences with gun violence are something painful, yeah, because they're normal. But we can win this fight against gun violence.

The pain we feel, that's what happens when you grow up in a country where more than 100 people are killed by gun violence every day and hundreds more are wounded. The unthinkable becomes normal. But we can win this fight against gun violence.

The once in a lifetime occurrence happens every day in our communities. A fight or flight reflex kicks in when you're a child, and it never turns off, because if it did, you'd be dead. In fact, we could lose hope. But we can win this fight against gun violence.

You see, we're here today to say it doesn't have to be that way. The evil-- let's just get it right-- is not good. The evil of gun violence is within our power to fix.

Yes we can win this fight against gun violence. The same thoughts and prayers we hear over, and over, and over again, they don't save lives. They don't change laws. It all leads to the same thing, even more lives lost at the hands of preventable gun violence. If you're a politician, stop working to get elected, and start working to do the job we pay you to do.

[CHEERING]

We're just constantly living in a cycle of abuse. And I'm talking about everybody. I've sat and talked to survivors. Have you ever looked in the face of a mother whose child was shot while they were carrying them down the steps to give them formula because a random bullet came in the house?

[INAUDIBLE] everything that's happening, your story isn't on the news. Nobody's writing about you in the newspaper. [INAUDIBLE] father that's raising a family all by themselves that tells their daughters that what you need to do is when somebody threatens you, stand up in your face and give them a fist. But he wasn't thinking about a gun. And that child never comes back home from school.

But today, I know it seems hopeless. It's been hopeless since the 15, and 1600s. But you people, look at you, all around [? you. ?] You're just like me. You're just like Shannon. You're just like all of the people who [INAUDIBLE] before you. And you deserve a better life. You

Deserve-- you pay for a better life. And [? what ?] people need [? to do is ?] get out there [INAUDIBLE] making sure happens. And you know, we have a chance to build a company, a country, where, for people like us all, we can win the fight against gun violence.

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to today's speakers, our survivors, our organizers, our movement leaders, our champions at Congress to express to each other and everyone, every one of you, my gratitude. You know, I was talking to a man earlier today, and we were talking about the days with the sniper. When you came into Washington, you go to the gas station. You want to get some gas.

It's not like I'm trying to do something and win a million dollars. I Just want to put some gas in my car. And you can't even pump the gas in your car because of snipers, somebody in his trunk with a gun through the light in the back of the car. And you don't know if you're ever going to even get to be able to finish filling the car.

But what I'm saying things just seem bad. I used to sing this song. I don't feel no ways tired, and we don't feel no ways tired. And they're being the way they are because we know that we have them on their heels. We have them at the point in which the embarrassments [INAUDIBLE] as [? he ?] says, when the truth comes and the lights are cut off, the roaches start to run.

[CHEERING]

The roaches need to run out of this house, go back to wherever they came from, and [INAUDIBLE]. We all come together when it comes to saving lives and having safe communities. So I just want you all to just say this with me. We can win this fight--

- We can win this fight.

- --against gun violence.

- --against gun violence.

- Say it again.

- We can win this fight against gun violence.

- Say it louder.

- We can win this fight against gun violence.

- Thank all of you for being here.

[CHEERING]

- Gun control now. Gun control now.

- Gun control now. Gun control now.

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