Padilla Urges Action to Address Gun Violence in Senate Hearing

In the wake of Uvalde mass shooting, Padilla questions experts on the need to address gun violence to protect children in America

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) urged Congress to act on gun violence legislation and made the case for ensuring law enforcement officials and mental health professionals have the tools to protect children and communities. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Protecting America’s Children from Gun Violence,” Padilla questioned Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Moira A. Szilagyi about the work that is currently being done and the work that lies ahead to ensure we are protecting children from gun violence.

WATCH: Padilla questions experts on the need to address gun violence to protect children in America

Senator Padilla began by recognizing the progress being made to address gun violence in the United States, including a pending bipartisan framework for legislation announced this week. He also raised the issue of easy access to guns and the threats posed by untraceable ghost guns. Police Chief Williams responded by speaking to the need to ensure that law enforcement officers have the tools to mitigate the threat posed by privately manufactured firearms. Chief Williams also spoke to the importance of intergovernmental partnership and officials’ ability to link ghost guns to people who make them.

Padilla then spoke to how gun reform laws are working in California and asked Dr. Szilagyi to discuss how increased funding to screen, diagnose, and treat mental health needs would benefit children who’ve been exposed to gun violence, as well as the importance of funding and diversifying an increasingly informed and trained mental health workforce. Padilla reiterated the importance of improving mental health resources, but also recognized that we cannot use mental health as an excuse to ignore the issue posed by guns themselves.

Key Excerpts:

  • PADILLA: …we do owe it, not just to the community of Uvalde and the families there, but for the communities across the country who have for too long been impacted by senseless gun violence. We owe it to them to take action. And what I am confident we will achieve here in the days and couple of weeks ahead will still leave us with more work to do. It will still leave us with more work to do.
  • PADILLA: …there’s 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 population in the state of California, 38% less than the national average, which is 13.7, and approximately 40% less than it is in Texas, where it’s 14.2. So yes, smart gun safety laws do work. But they’re not as effective as it can be when it’s only state by state. We need federal protections and by the way, Californians are 25% less likely to die in mass shootings.
  • SZILAGYI: I would also just like to point out that those with mental health problems are far more likely to be victims of violence than to perpetrate violence. And that the forensic analysis done in 2019, looking back at all the mass shootings in America back to 1966, found that 100% of those who perpetrated mass shootings in schools, all had significant trauma histories; they grew up in violent homes, they were abused and neglected, they were bullied, and they had high levels of community violence, or some combination of those factors.

Padilla is a champion and strong advocate of common sense gun reform. He is a co-sponsor of the Background Check Expansion Act to expand federal background checks for all gun sales and a cosponsor of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2021, which bans the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. Padilla has been outspoken on the need for congressional action and recently urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to advance commonsense gun legislation following the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

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