Lewis Opening Statement at Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on the Public Health Consequences and Costs of Gun Violence

Sep 26, 2019
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

Good Morning. Today, the Oversight Subcommittee will examine the effects of gun violence on communities across the country.  

We are in a crisis – an American crisis – that threatens the heart and soul of our nation.  

We must help our friends, families, and neighbors – who hope, pray, and beg for leadership.   

Every year, thousands of people die from gun violence.  

Parents and children, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors – no one is safe.  

You can be at home or school, at work or the grocery store, or at a festival or worship. No place feels safe.  

Too many are hurting.  Too many are mourning. Too many are suffering.   

Yesterday, people came from all across the country to demand action to stem gun violence.  If you heard their stories and felt their pain, your heart would break.

Gun violence does not care what color your skin is, how old you are, where you live, or where you worship.  

It scars our communities and tears at the fabric of our nation.  

Those who experience gun violence know as I do – that we are facing a public health crisis in this country.  

These are the reasons that I would like to thank our colleagues and all the witnesses for sharing their personal stories and knowledge with us today.  

Your courage and passion are an inspiration to us all.

Today we will hear from survivors, loved ones, and experts about the forgotten reality of gun violence.  

For those who survive, the path towards recovery is difficult. For those who lose their loved ones, the cost can never be measured.

Unfortunately, the cost of gun violence goes beyond the pain felt by victims, families and friends.  

We cannot begin to measure the emotional or economic cost of the trauma.  

Since 1996, a lack of research funding prevents the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – located in my congressional district -- from studying gun violence.  

This policy keeps the public from learning more about the total cost of gun violence.  

We need more research so that we can save more lives, but we can begin our work by studying the effect of gun violence on doctors, health systems, and health care providers. 
We know that it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to care for survivors in hospitals and emergency rooms, and billions in other health costs and lost wages.

In the face of this grave reality, Congress has a moral obligation to act. Each Member must do their part.  

Every second, every minute, every hour of delay is a matter of life and death – a matter of healthy living or unimaginable suffering.   

As we conduct this work, we must be thoughtful. We must be mindful, and compassion should be our guide.  

Again, I thank all our witnesses for joining us today. I look forward to the testimony.

I am now pleased to recognize the Ranking Member for his opening statement.