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WASHINGTON, March 23, 2021 –– Everytown for Gun Safety and its grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, released the following statements ahead of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on proposals to reduce gun violence. Robin Brule, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and survivor of gun violence whose mother was shot and killed in 2016, will be among those who testify about the need for background checks and other constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Her full remarks are included below.
Today’s hearing is being held less than one day after a mass shooting in Boulder at a grocery store in which at least 10 people were shot and killed and an unknown number wounded. It also comes less than one week after the mass shooting in Atlanta, in which 8 people were shot and killed –– including 6 Asian women –– and one wounded. More than 100 people in the U.S. are shot and killed by gun violence every day, and more than twice that many are wounded, in incidents of gun suicide, city gun violence, domestic gun violence, mass shootings, and more.
“Gun violence is an epidemic within the pandemic, from Boulder yesterday to Atlanta last week to the dozens more people in the United States who are shot every day, but whose stories do not make the headlines,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “To save lives and end these senseless killings, we need more than thoughts and prayers –– we need federal action on gun safety from the Senate, and we need it now. That work begins with this hearing, and we cannot rest until we pass background checks into law.”
“We mourn with the communities of Boulder and Atlanta after the devastating and senseless mass shooting tragedies in the past week,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “We can’t and won’t accept gun violence as just a fact of life in America. The Senate is now the most important battleground in the fight for federal action on gun safety, and today’s hearing is critical to that effort. I thank Chairman Durbin for using this hearing to demonstrate why we cannot afford to wait any longer.”
“We always hear the saying about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But my mother Ruth and her friend Barb were shot and killed in a retirement community at 8am. If that’s the wrong place at the wrong time, where in America is the right place at the right time?” said Robin Brule, a Moms Demand Action volunteer and survivor of gun violence whose mother was killed by gun violence on February 8th, 2016. “I’m a gun owner, and I believe fully in the Second Amendment –– but I also know that it’s time for Congress to listen to the 90% of Americans who understand that requiring a background check is common sense. Because no family should have to get that call that I got from police 5 years ago telling me that I’d never see my mother again.”
It has been more than 25 years since Congress passed meaningful federal gun safety legislation into law. Last Congress, the House of Representatives passed several pieces of gun safety legislation –– but then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to bring any of them up for a vote in the Senate. Tens of thousands of people died from gun violence while those bills died on his desk.
Earlier this month, the House passed legislation to require background checks on all gun sales with bipartisan support. The Biden-Harris administration supported the bill, and President Joe Biden released a statement saying “[t]he time to act is now” on gun safety. Newly released polling shows that the American people agree, with more than four in five voters in all 50 states agreeing that no gun sale should take place without a background check. The polling also shows that this overwhelming support is bipartisan, with 84% of Independents and 83% of Republicans agreeing with background checks on all gun sales nationwide.
Robin Brule’s remarks as prepared are available below:
Testimony of Robin Brule Senate Judiciary Committee March 23, 2021
Good morning Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Grassley and distinguished members of the Committee. My name is Robin Brule. It is an honor to appear before you today and I appreciate you holding this important hearing.
Last week, my heart ached for those suffering from the tragic shootings in Atlanta. Last night, my heart ached for those suffering from the heartbreaking shooting in Boulder. As a survivor of gun violence, I know that the grief, shock, and horror of these senseless killings will never go away. The moment you learn of the painful loss is frozen in time.
I still remember that moment for me. I picked up the phone, heard the police on the other end of the line, and knew right away that something had gone horribly wrong.
The police told me that day that my mom, Ruth Schwed, and her friend, Barbara Leslie, were shot and killed while eating breakfast in a sleepy Arizona retirement community.
Nothing can prepare a person for that. Since I was a little girl, my mom was always the person I turned to when I needed comfort. Yet in her final moments, I couldn’t be there for her.
But before I tell you about her death, let me tell you about her life.
My mother was married to my dad for over 50 years, raised 3 kids, and was adored by all of her 8 grandchildren.
She spent over 30 years as a public school teacher, and to this day, we get letters from children who want to share the impact she had on them.
She had many close friends, calling everyone “doll babes” or “dear” and finishing every call by telling me to “have a goodie.”
Most of all, she always put others above herself. That’s what she was doing in Arizona on that February morning.
She was at the house that day because her close friend Barb had just become a widow. My dad had died long before, so my mother knew what Barb was going through, and –– as always –– wanted to help.
But on the morning of February 8, 2016, two people broke into the home where they were staying –– then shot my mother and Barb while they were having breakfast and reading the newspaper.
Two elderly women, shot point blank. All because some criminals wanted their credit cards and cash.
We always hear the saying about being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But if a retirement community at 8 am is the wrong place at the wrong time, where in America is the right place at the right time?
I tell you this story not only to honor my mother, but because tragedies like this can be prevented.
My mother’s death began with an internet search for a gun. Because of loopholes in our law, it was perfectly legal to sell them the gun used to kill my mother –– no background check and no questions asked.
If a strong background check law was in place, I could be having breakfast with my mother instead of appearing before your Committee.
But today, anyone with an internet connection can exploit the same loophole that killed her, and browse more than 1 million ads for guns in states that do not require background checks. And, according to Everytown for Gun Safety, nearly 1 in 9 people who respond to those ads can’t pass a background check.
I’m a gun owner, and I believe fully in the Second Amendment. But I also know that it’s time for Congress to listen to the 90% of Americans who understand that requiring a background check is common sense. Because no family should have to get that call that I got from police 5 years ago –– the worst call in the world.
When my mother was brought back to Albuquerque after the autopsy, she was covered in a sheet to spare me. But I have not been spared.
I live with pain, stress, and fear. I often imagine my mother’s final moments. I look at old photos and say her name so that her memory is not lost in the aftermath of this heartbreak.
Please honor her memory with action. Please pass legislation that will save lives and prevent other families from experiencing the trauma of gun violence. Please, do something.
About Everytown for Gun Safety
Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly six million supporters and more than 375,000 donors including moms, mayors, survivors, students, and everyday Americans who are fighting for common-sense gun safety measures that can help save lives. Learn more at www.everytown.org and follow us @Everytown.
About Moms Demand Action Moms Demand Action is the nation’s largest grassroots volunteer network working to end gun violence. Moms Demand Action is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization with nearly six million supporters and more than 375,000 donors. Moms Demand Action campaigns for new and stronger solutions to lax gun laws and loopholes that jeopardize the safety of our families. There is a Moms Demand Action chapter in every state of the country and more than 700 local groups across the country. For more information or to get involved visit www.momsdemandaction.org. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MomsDemandAction or on Twitter at @MomsDemand.
About Students Demand Action Students Demand Action is a national movement of high school and college-aged volunteers working to end gun violence. Students Demand Action volunteers organize within their schools and communities to educate their peers, register voters, and demand common-sense solutions to this national crisis. Students Demand Action has active volunteers in every state and more than 400 groups across the country. Students Demand Action is part of Everytown for Gun Safety, the largest gun violence prevention organization in the country with nearly six million supporters and more than 375,000 donors. For more information or to get involved visit www.studentsdemandaction.org.