Congressman Cleaver's Speech during Historic House Sit-In to Address Mass Gun Violence
WASHINGTON, DC - The following is the full text of Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II's (MO-05) speech delivered on the Floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 22, 2016, during the historic sit-in to end mass gun violence in this country.
"Several months ago, Robyn Kelly and I had a discussion about the moment of silence. We had witnessed, like you, over and over and over again mass shootings. And then we come in here to vote and then we go through the obligatory minute of silence. So two or three months ago, I started walking out. Not in disrespect for those who were killed but because I am familiar with the Hebrew testament. When Moses, taking the children to freedom, is told by God when he starts to pray at the Red Sea, this is not the time to pray. “This is the time,” God said to Moses, “to move forward.” And so I made a commitment years and years ago that I would never go to bed without praying. I live in the Methodist building right across the street. I think I might have missed two nights when I had my last surgery. I’m not sure, but just to be safe I have said to the Lord I might have missed two nights. I’m not sure that we are doing a service to God if all we do is come in here to have a minute of silence and then more people get killed.
"I used to tell my members that you know you gotta be prosperous; you ought to try to be prosperous. I mean if somebody is driving by a church and members are out giving jumpstarts and the pastors getting a push on his car and the windows are all out in the church. People will say we need to try to avoid that place. I mean that’s not a good testimony to the car. It’s not a good testimony to God to stand in here and do this year after year after year and do nothing.
"Look, my uncle Emanuel Cleaver died in Atwater, California, two years ago. Leader Pelosi was kind enough to talk to him a few days before he died. As I’m trying to clear up his house I find seven guns. Seven. Now, it would be hypocritical for me to come up here and say people need to have all their guns removed. I mean, it would be hypocritical. That’s not what this is about. This is not gun control, this is terror control. And we ought to get back to business of saying, at least I mean the Congress of the United States of America, at least we ought to say if you are on the terror watch list you cannot buy a gun. That is simple. We’re not going home. Because we are talking about terror. We’re talking about terror. Terror! We’ll say no we are not going to do anything to limit the contact a possible terrorist would have to buy guns. This is the Congress of the United States and we are saying nothing. We are doing nothing!
"I have twin boys. When they were about three years old, my wife and I are sleeping and we hear a sound. We jump up, we run in to their bedroom. One of them is on the floor, still asleep. I get down on my knees and I shake him and I say “Emil what’s wrong?” And he looked up at me and he looks over at his bed and he said “Dad I think I was sleeping too close to where I got in.” And that’s where we are, we are sleeping too close to where we got in. Mass killings, we are still on the edge. We haven’t moved over. We haven’t moved over. We need to do something. And we need to do something called make something happen. Stop pandering terrorists! I can’t get away from the thought that we are not willing to do something to stop terrorists from getting guns.
"Now, I do have to say to you that I think something is going to be done. I don’t think this is in vain. I don’t think it’s in vain. Because 90, I was looking at a poll on tv this morning, 90% of Americans are with us. 90% of Americans, 90% of Republicans say that we ought to restrict guns so that terrorists, those on the terrorist list can’t get guns. Everybody’s for this and we can’t even get the mics on. I would expect the mics to be turned off in Moscow.
"Now, let me just say, before I stop, I don’t want anybody here to give up. And I don’t want the American public to give up. Don’t give up, give out, give in. Because we are going to make it happen. Look, hope is hope only if things look hopeless. Otherwise it’s just a nice little word. And things that look dim and dark as they do right now for the American people that’s where hope shines best. And that’s why I’m so glad to be a part of this group out here because we are the hope of America right now. This is hope.
"A little boy is sitting in a dugout and a man is walking by and he sees the little boy in the dugout. And he says to the little boy “What’s the score?” and the little boy says 18 to nothing and the man says “Boy I sure hope you don’t get discouraged.” And he said “Why should I be discouraged? This is the first inning, we haven’t come to bat yet.” Look, we want the American public to know we are coming to bat. I don’t care how bad it looks now, we are coming to bat. Coming to bat!"
Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance, and also a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver is available here.
For more information, please contact Heather Frierson at 816-842-4545 or Heather.Frierson@mail.house.gov.