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Elected officials rally in support of gun safety legislation

LOS ANGELES — A group of elected officials joined other community leaders and Angelenos affected by gun violence at City Hall June 29, calling on Congress to vote on bills to prevent gun violence.

“We can’t just have moments of silence when we see American lives perish,” Rep. Xavier Becerra said. “It’s time to allow the American people to speak through their representatives and have a vote in Congress on legislation to prevent gun violence.

Becerra issued the call exactly a week after House Democrats held a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives for 26 hours to demand that House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans allow an immediate vote on bipartisan, common-sense gun safety legislation to help keep guns out of dangerous hands.

The bills included the bipartisan King-Thompson legislation to expand and strengthen the background check system and the bipartisan “No Fly, No Buy” bill to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.

“You will never truly understand the gun violence epidemic until it happens to you,” said Mandy Pifer, the fiancé of Shannon Johnson, who was killed in the San Bernardino shooting last December. “I strongly believe that to ignore the role that guns play in this public health epidemic — homicides, suicides and terrorism — is like throwing away the last piece of a puzzle you’ve been working on for a very long time. It’s frustrating and nonsensical.”

The event was part of a National Day of Action for Common-Sense Gun Violence Prevention. Gun violence prevention advocates held sit-ins and other events throughout the country to demand that Congress act on commonsense gun violence prevention legislation.

Becerra was joined at City Hall by other members of the Southern California congressional delegation, including Reps. Maxine Waters, Lucille Roybal-Allard, Judy Chu, Karen Bass, and Alan Lowenthal; as well as Los Angeles City Councilmen Mitch O’Farrell, Paul Krekorian, Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Curren Price.

“Enough is enough. It is long past time for Congress to make sensible gun control a national priority,“ Roybal-Allard said. “Democrats are ready to vote on bills to strengthen our background check system and keep terrorist suspects from buying guns.

“In the name of my constituents, in the name of the countless American families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence, and in the name of all those who fear that a gun in the wrong hands could harm them or their loved ones, I am calling on House Republican leaders to hold a vote on these bipartisan gun bills,” Roybal-Allard added.

“Americans have had enough of mass shootings and of feeling unsafe because Congress refuses to allow a vote on even the most common sense gun restrictions — like keeping guns away from those on the No Fly List, or expanding background checks, a proposal supported by 92 percent of Americans,” Rep. Chu said.

“The problem of gun violence is more than just mass shootings. It’s a daily plague. Today, with our National Day of Action, we are speaking out as one to say that it is time for Congress to take action to end the senseless gun violence that is tearing apart our communities.”

“It is unfortunate that House Republicans have refused to take up the issue of gun violence through legislative action, particularly after it is clear that it’s what the American people want, “ Rep.Bass said. “It is critical that we continue the protest efforts started last week by House Democrats in our communities across the country to keep the drumbeat going and that is what we are all hoping to accomplish today.”

Earlier in the day, Rep. Becerra convened a roundtable with residents affected by gun violence, including representatives from Women Against Gun Violence, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Trevor Project, Equality California, Interfaith Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, and the Wall Las Memorias Project.

“I want to thank Rep. Becerra for helping lead the fight against our nation’s gun violence crisis,” said former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, co-founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions, who was the victim of an assassination attempt in 2011. “Speaking is difficult for me. But I haven’t been silenced. And neither should the American people. Their representatives must vote to make our communities safer.”