Pelosi: Declare Gun Violence a 'National Emergency' Because of 'Consistent Loss of Life'

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) walks to the House floor for a vote on Feb. 13, 2019. (Alex Edelman/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Congress should declare gun violence a “national emergency” and pass new gun laws to address the “epidemic” in the country.

Pelosi was referencing President Trump’s desire to declare a “national emergency” to obtain extra funding to build a border wall.

Pelosi hopes H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, will pass out of the House by the end of this month. According to the text of the bill, “it shall be unlawful for any person who is not a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer to transfer a firearm to any other person who is not so licensed, unless a licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, or licensed dealer has first taken possession of the firearm for the purpose of complying with subsection.”

She said anyone who tries to block the legislation should keep in mind that gun-control activists aren’t going anywhere.

“We’re not going away. You might as well save yourself a lot of time by accepting that fact, that the law will be changed, that lives will be saved,” Pelosi said during an event Tuesday organized by MoCo Students for Change, a student-led anti-gun violence group, and Change the Ref.

“It’s an epidemic. It’s an emergency. We should declare it an emergency and take great action immediately. Are you ready to accept the success we are about to have?” she added.

Pelosi called on the student activists to help mobilize the public to push the bill to passage through the Senate so the bill “will shine in a way that is irresistible” once it hits Trump’s desk. Pelosi told PJM that the universal background check bill has “overwhelming support in the country” and is the most likely gun-control legislation to pass in this session of Congress.

“We have a lot of across-the-board agreement that certain people should just not have guns and if there is a recognition of that, you know, in other words, there are family-reported certain violent activity – I don’t want to call it by a name it is known as because some people will take offense at it. In other words, to be wise and smart and clear about our purpose,” she said.

Pelosi explained why she thinks the Congress should declare gun violence a national emergency.

“It’s a national emergency because of the number of lives that are lost every day in our country. We hear about them at notorious events, whether mass murders, but there are mass murders happening quite a bit around the country that we don’t hear about so because of the loss of life involved, consistent loss of life. It is an epidemic and a national emergency and it must be addressed as such, but what’s making it happen is the outside mobilization,” Pelosi said. “We can just do so much internally, the inside maneuvering, the outside mobilization is what gives us all hope.”

Other lawmakers including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Rep. Jaime Raskin (D-Md.) addressed the group. Political artist Manny Oliver, father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, also delivered remarks at the event, where a “Walls of Demand” art display was revealed to mark the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting in Florida.