WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today joined U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the Senate floor in an attempt to pass the Assault Weapons Ban by unanimous consent in an effort to combat mass shootings and gun deaths in America. U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) objected to the unanimous consent request.

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“Since 2020, the United States has suffered from over 600 mass shootings every year, almost two a day. I ask those who are listening to my remarks to reflect on one fact: there is no other country on Earth not engaged in active war where this type of killing occurs on a daily basis,” Durbin said. “In Highland Park and communities across America, shooters have used military-style assault weapons to cause irreversible harm in just a matter of minutes.”

Durbin continued, “I listened to my friend from Wyoming object to the effort to bring this legislation to the floor and cite the fact that we are being disrespectful to gun owners. He made reference to ranchers and farmers in his state and how it’s important for them to have firearms. I don’t quarrel with that. But I do have to ask in all seriousness, 83 rounds in 60 seconds? That’s what a farmer needs? That’s what a rancher needs? I think not. This is a military weapon designed to kill people. That’s it—designed to kill massive numbers of people. I don’t think that’s part of farming or ranching in modern America.”

Last Congress, Durbin was a strong supporter of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which cracks down on straw purchasing, expands background checks for buyers under 21 years of age, takes steps to close the “boyfriend loophole,” supports state red flag laws, and offers billions in funding for counseling, mental health, and trauma support for victims of gun violence. While the bipartisan legislation was a starting point for gun reform, Durbin is a staunch advocate for the Assault Weapons Ban and additional gun safety measures.

“It is madness that firearms are now the leading cause of death of children in the United States. Firearms, the leading cause of death of children in the United States of America. Mass shootings with assault weapons are a uniquely American phenomena. Continuing to allow firearms meant for war to be used on our streets is disgraceful,” Durbin said. “Last year, Congress took critical steps on gun safety reform with the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, but we must do more. When a shooter is armed with an assault weapon, the number of deaths in a mass shooting is on average twice as high. If we can prevent that many deaths when these tragedies strike by passing an assault weapons ban, what are we waiting for?”

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Durbin concluded, “After Highland Park, I said that I hoped for our children’s sake that we don’t run away from the problem. That community and so many others are counting on us to stand up and to face this issue head on. I urge my colleagues to unite to do what is right for the safety of the American people. Let’s pass the Assault Weapons Ban.”

Video of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks on the Senate floor is available here for TV Stations.

Last week, as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Durbin held a hearing on the gun violence epidemic and efforts to save lives through innovative public health programs, such as Chicago’s HEAL Initiative. In his time as Chair, the Judiciary Committee has held 13 hearings about commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, including a hearing centered on the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

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Jan 9, 2024 - State Rep. Dan Caulkins’ U.S. Supreme Court Denies Request To Review The Illinois High Court Decision On The Assault Weapons Ban

 

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