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Kahele joins House colleagues in call to take action on gun violence prevention legislation

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Kaialiʻi Kahele. File photo PC: Hawaiʻi State Senate.

US Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele joined 130 of his colleagues in the US House of Representatives to call on Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn to take action now and deliver on gun safety legislation.

In light of the gun violence in America, the House members wrote:

“The time to act is now. The American people and President Biden are demanding that Congress act before more lives are needlessly lost to gun violence. We can and must continue to work in the House to tackle the gun violence crisis in this country even though we know that Senate Republicans will continue to use the filibuster to block any meaningful reforms. The fact is, there are numerous pieces of gun violence prevention legislation still pending in the House that have the support of the majority of Americans.”

The membership underscored the number of lives lost in recent years directly due to gun violence and highlighted the mass shootings in New York and Texas that took place earlier this month, writing: “More than 240,000 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence … In the last two weeks alone, we’ve lost 31 innocent lives to mass shootings in Buffalo and now Texas.”

On Wednesday night in Honolulu, a shooting near the Blaisdell Arena occurred.    

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See the full text of the letter below:

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Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leader Hoyer, and Whip Clyburn:

Next month will mark the six-year anniversary of the first sit-in on the House floor to protest the Republican majority’s unwillingness to consider any gun safety measures following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. At the time, we were in the minority and we had no other tool left at our disposal than to bring Congress to a grinding halt. Two years later, we won back the majority in the House with the promise to deliver on gun safety legislation and ever since we have had the votes to pass common sense gun violence prevention legislation in the House. 

Over the last four years, we have made some progress by passing H.R.8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act to implement universal background checks and H.R. 1446, the Enhanced Background Check Act to close the “Charleston loophole,” but the Republicans have used the filibuster to block those bills from even being considered by the Senate. Although the filibuster continues to be an enormous obstacle, we believe the House has an obligation to continue to bring up and pass gun violence prevention legislation. We were relieved to learn that you have scheduled Congresswoman McBath’s bill to establish extreme risk protection orders for a floor vote and that the House Judiciary Committee is working to advance additional gun safety legislation.

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More than 240,000 Americans have lost their lives to gun violence since the sit-in. In just the last two weeks alone, we’ve lost 31 innocent lives to mass shootings in Buffalo and now Texas No district, town, or community is immune from gun violence. From Uvalde to Buffalo to Parkland to Sandy Hook, there isn’t a city, town or neighborhood in this country that hasn’t been impacted by gun violence. It is an epidemic in the United States, and a public health crisis. It’s not just the mass shootings that are an issue, but also the day-to-day gun violence affecting people in cities like Chicago, New York, Houston, and Baltimore. Every day parents all across this country send their kids off to school or out to play, or drop them off at the mall or the movie theater, and fear that that might be the last time they see their child. 

As President Biden said Tuesday night, “[…]these kinds of mass shootings rarely happen anywhere else in the world. Why? They have mental health problems. They have domestic disputes in other countries. They have people who are lost. But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America. Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies? It’s time to turn this pain into action.”

The time to act is now. The American people and President Biden are demanding that Congress act before more lives are needlessly lost to gun violence. We can and must continue to work in the House to tackle the gun violence crisis in this country even though we know that Senate Republicans will continue to use the filibuster to block any meaningful reforms. The fact is, there are numerous pieces of gun violence prevention legislation still pending in the House that have the support of the majority of Americans.

The American people are demanding for us to act. They gave us the majority in 2018 because we promised to act. We must not squander this opportunity to show the American people that the Democratic-led House is serious about saving lives and stopping gun violence.

Our caucus is often reminded of President Lincoln’s famous quote, “with public sentiment, nothing can fail…without it nothing can succeed.” The majority of Americans are asking us, begging us, to do something about gun violence before more innocent lives are lost. We came here to take on the tough fights and let the chips fall where they may. We believe this is something worth fighting for, no matter the political consequences. We urge you to bring any gun violence prevention legislation when it has been approved by the Judiciary Committee to the House floor immediately for a vote. 

Sincerely,                   

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