Durbin: No American Is Immune To The Scourge Of Gun Violence In This Country

In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin calls on his colleagues to honor National Police Week by passing gun safety laws; remembers fallen Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke on the Senate floor urging his colleagues to address the gun violence epidemic across our country.  Durbin began his speech by honoring fallen Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston, who was murdered outside of her home.  Officer Preston was set to graduate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law on Saturday, one week after she passed away. 

“Officer Preston was the best of Chicago.  At only 24 years old, she had served with the CPD for three years.  And during her time on the force, she worked to build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.  Officer Preston was inspired to become a police officer after taking a trip to Europe, as part of her undergraduate criminology studies.  Her class visited former concentration camps in Germany and Poland—the sites of some of the worst atrocities in human history.  The stories of the Holocaust compelled Officer Preston to be the change she wanted to see in the world.  She wanted to be part of it; in her words, ‘when I got back [home], I wanted to be an officer.  I felt like I could be a person to fight for justice.’  And during her time on the force, that’s exactly what she fought for.  On Saturday—the day before Mother’s Day—Officer Preston’s mother, Dionne Mho—and other family members—walked on stage at Loyola’s ceremony to accept her diploma.  I want to extend my deepest condolences to each one of them. Officer Preston and her family should be together today—celebrating her amazing accomplishments and her courageous service to our city.  Instead, they are mourning her loss.  She is yet another victim of America’s epidemic of gun violence,” Durbin said.

This week is Police Week when law enforcement officers across the country travel to Washington to meet with lawmakers and honor their peers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

“The murder of Officer Preston—as well as hundreds of other police officers who have died by gunfire in recent years—is a sobering reminder that no American is immune to the scourge of gun violence in this country,” Durbin continued. 

Durbin continued his speech by reflecting on last year’s horrific shooting in Buffalo, New York, when a white supremacist marched into a grocery store with an AR-15 style rifle and killed ten Black Americans.  Durbin remembered one of the victims, Aaron Salter, a former police officer who was working as a security guard at the time of the attack.  Mr. Salter leapt into action but there was only so much he could do.  Mr. Salter was armed with a handgun, while the assailant had an AR-15 style rifle and was wearing a tactical vest. 

Durbin said, “Mr. Salter was forced into a position that no police officer—and no security guard—should ever find themselves in—being outgunned by a violent criminal.  But this happens with alarming frequency.  And it’s because lawmakers have failed to do enough to stop guns from falling into the wrong hands.  If we truly want to honor the sacrifices [of Mr. Salter and Officer Preston], we need to do more than offer our prayers and condolences.  We need to take action.”

In the year since the mass shooting in Buffalo, there have been more than 650 mass shootings across America.  During that period, more than 40,000 of our fellow citizens have died from gunfire—which is now the number one killer of our nation’s children.  

Last year, Congress passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act—the most important gun safety law in nearly 30 years.  Thanks to that law, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is able to perform enhanced background checks on gun buyers under the age of 21.  According to DOJ, these enhanced background checks have already prevented more than 160 firearms from falling into potentially dangerous hands.  Despite this progress, Durbin argued that we need to do more. 

Durbin went on to slam the House of Representatives MAGA Majority’s proposal to erase a regulation that restricts braces that can turn pistols into short-barreled rifles.  He also spoke about Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) threats to default on America’s debt unless we pass his bill that will wipe out 30,000 law enforcement jobs.

Durbin said, “House Republicans are threatening to trigger an economic crisis unless Democrats support their proposal to defund the police.  That’s coming from the same Republicans who have spent years falsely claiming that Democrats want to defund the police.  Yet here they are, supporting budget cuts that would leave law enforcement behind, and make our communities less safe.  This is no way to honor the service and sacrifice of police officers across the country.”

“Let’s make sure our officers have all the funding and resources they need to keep our communities safe, and that includes sensible gun safety laws that help keep weapons of war off of America’s streets,” Durbin concluded. 

Video of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here. 

Footage of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.