Today, Senator Kamala Harris reacted to the school shooting in Santa Clarita today, the country’s 23rd school shooting this year. She thanked first responders for their actions there, and condemned the continued inaction in Washington to address gun violence.
“This is what our kids are going through every day…. It’s got to stop. They’re being traumatized. We keep having this conversation because it keeps happening.”
“There has been a failure of the United States Congress to have the courage to act. It is pathetic! It is pathetic that people yield to a gun lobby on an issue that affects all of our children. These babies could care less who their parents voted for in the last election. They are terrified and we need to act. This is outrageous! It’s predictable!”
“That’s why I said when I get elected president I will take executive action and I have received heat from other Democrats about it. So what? I will take executive action. People say what happens if someone comes in after you and they undo it. I’ll wait, I’ll deal with that in eight years. Someone has to act.”
“And this has got to stop being a partisan issue, an intellectual issue, an ideological issue, and I dare these people who stand on circumstances, I dare them to look at the autopsy photographs of these babies. I dare them, and then vote their conscience Enough. Enough.”
Watch Kamala Harris interview here:
Read the transcript below:
California senator and 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who is the United States Senator from California. Senator Harris, I’m sad to say that the last time you and I talked like this was actually in the wake of the El Paso shooting. You know, I it is one of those things. I don’t think this is commonplace because we don’t treat it emotionally as commonplace. Americans are outraged about these shootings. And things have happened to try and keep guns away from people who might do these things.
Ali, I know but you know, here’s the thing. I’m traveling the country, as you know, and I cannot tell you the number of kids and ], you know, let’s step back and agree that the children of our community are the children of our community. They’re all of our kids. And I cannot tell you the number of kids who have come up to me crying, saying I don’t want to die. I talked about this everywhere. I’ve had eight year olds, six year olds tug at my jacket.
After I talk about these drills, and so it’s a secret between us, they will, they will whisper, I had to have one of those drills. It is traumatizing our kids. Parents are looking at bulletproof backpacks. Our kids are literally, let me just tell you how this is happening for our children. They go to one class, and they learn about what they should do in that classroom and the physical construct of that classroom to avoid the mass shooter. So sometimes they’re happy that in that class, if the shooting breaks out there they’re in that room because there’s a big closet. These are the stories they’ve told me, that kids talking about. If I’m in my humanities class, I hope it’s not to going to be there because the stairwell This is what our kids are going through every day. And we have to recognize-it’s gotta stop. And they’re being traumatized and for good reason. Because to your point we keep having this conversation because it keeps happening.
Just a few moments ago, Fred Guttenberg, who is a father who lost his daughter Jamie, in the Parkland shooting reached out to us and he said, ‘watching a day like this, his heart breaks all over again.’ And he put this tweet out where he writes ‘Dear parents, please go home today and hug your children and tell them you love them. When you do this, imagine that this is the last time you will ever see them alive again, then demand that Senate Majority Leader opens the Senate so that we can give your children a chance to live.” Senator, in addition to obviously running for 2020. You are sitting senator do you have any belief that Mitch McConnell will do something?
First of all, I applaud Fred, because in the midst of the personal tragedy he has experienced he has been such a voice a powerful voice of courage. about the need for action. And we’ve all been together saying Mitch McConnell needs to convene the Senate. We have a good bill that recognizes that we don’t need to take everyone’s gun, but we need to have smart gun safety laws. And there has been a failure Stephanie, there’s been a failure of the United States Congress to have the courage to act. It is pathetic. It is pathetic, that people yield to a gun lobby on an issue that affects all our children. And by the way, these babies and I mean, those elementary, middle and high school kids could care less who their parents voted for in the last election. They are terrified, and we need to act. This is outrageous. And it’s predictable, and it is outrageous for that reason, as well.
It is strangely predictable. You sort of know after enough time has gone by that one of these days we’re going to be having this conversation and it’s not very much time. After Sandy Hook when you were frustrated by the inaction in Congress, back then in 2012, You said ‘I think somebody should have required all of those members of Congress to go into a room in a locked room, no press nobody else and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies and then vote your conscience.’ And one of the things we learned about Parkland, which has motivated a lot of states to change, it is animated the House of Representatives to pass a bill, is that we did see video. We saw and heard the terror in those children’s eyes and their voices and everybody who’s a parent or knows a kid understood what that would feel like if that was someone you knew.
That’s right Ali, and you know, and the reason I said that, reason I said that around Sandy Hook and I and I continue to say that, is I have looked at autopsy photographs. I have hugged the parents of murdered children. And this has got to stop being a partisan issue, an intellectual issue, an ideological issue, and I dare these people who stand on circumstances, I dare them to look at the autopsy photographs of these babies. I dare them, and then vote their conscience Enough. Enough.
What does cause something to happen in the Senate? Because what the President often does after these things, and I’ll just confirm we have not heard from the President yet. If we have my control room can let us know. But the President often says we’ve got to do something about x or y. And then suddenly, there seems to be a conversation with Wayne LaPierre at the end at the NRA and then nothing happens. Is there anything, do people have to continue to die, someone has died today we know at least one student, female student is dead now in California as a result of this, what will motivate the Senate to move?
Honestly Ali, you know, after Sandy Hook 20 six and seven year old babies was slaughtered and Congress failed to act. After 1 October in Nevada, which was the biggest massacre of human beings. And, Congress failed to act. I honestly, I honestly don’t know what it’s going to take. I I do believe, however, that when these kids, and if you talk to any kid who from elementary school through the age of in their mid 20s, all of them have had these drills. And when they start voting in their numbers, I do believe there will be action. And that is such a failure of the people who are currently in leadership, which is that we’re going to have to wait for these kids to lead before there is leadership on this issue. What a failure of the people who walk around with these lapel pins around Congress and they got their staff running after them as though they’re royalty. And they take all of the attributes and all of the benefits of their supposed role of leadership, but when it comes to a moment where they really should lead they fail. It is tragic, and why that’s why I said, when I get elected President, I will take executive action. And I’ve and I’ve received heat from other democrats about it. So what? I will take executive action, people say, well, then what happens if somebody comes in after you and they undo it. Well, you know what, I’ll wait. I’ll deal with that in eight years. Somebody’s gotta act.
Well, you’ve been traveling the country over the last six months speaking not to those in leadership but speaking to actual voters. We saw in the state of Virginia, just a week and a half ago, that state flip blue, mostly on common sense gun initiatives. Universal background checks are now widely supported by the American people. Do you see voters, not just young people who are sick of school drills? Do you see voters saying it’s time to put this on top of the ballot?
I do Stephanie, and you should see the kind of activism. There’s a whole group of moms and dads that are called Moms Demand Action, who are volunteering. They have these red t shirts, they show up at every rally. They are activated. The Sandy Hook folks, the Gabby Giffords who has been extraordinary in the way that she and Mark have been traveling the country. All of the kids-Parkland-leaders. You know, so yes, there is consensus out there that we need reasonable gun safety laws. And in two pieces, in particular, universal background checks and a renewal of the assault weapons ban. Pretty basic. and NRA members believe and agree with it. But when you have people like Wayne LaPierre and the gun lobby and then the feckless people who are in a position of leadership, who then operate from from a position of fear, and then try and push fear, then you see inaction. But there are an incredible number of heroes out there who are active and engaged. I feel optimistic, But you know, each day that a tragedy, you know, talk to the parents of the child who died today. And, you know optimism about the future means nothing in terms of their grief today, nothing.
Senator we’re looking at on the screen the bottom right, we’re waiting for a press conference from the LA sheriff’s office, which we don’t have. And what we don’t know yet is what type of gun was used in this. But what we do know is that in most of these mass shootings, and school shootings, it has been an assault type weapon. So putting that one aside for a second, the issue of universal background checks and red flag laws seems to have overwhelming support in the US population. And in fact, I think 17 states now have enacted red flag laws and others are moving toward it. There has been much more progress on the state level than there has been at the federal level.
There has been and my state California has been great but if we if we don’t have universal standards, then it’s you know it, it really is not. It is not effective to be frank and candid, because, you know, these weapons can be transported across state lines very, very easily. We need universal standards. That is what is lacking. And until we have it, we can expect these kinds of tragedies. States like Virginia, California, so many others that have done the right thing, but until we have federal laws that create, universal standards for who can own a weapon, who can buy a weapon, what kind of weapon can be owned and possessed. We’re going to continue to see these kinds of tragedy.
Senator we’ve got to get a break in here. Senator Kamala Harris is on the phone with us. She’s the United States Senator for California and a 2020 presidential candidate. She was also the Attorney General of California and the district attorney for San Francisco.
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