In Speech On Senate Floor, Durbin Reacts To Nashville School Shooting, Calls On Colleagues To Ban Assault Weapons

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered a speech on the Senate floor responding to the horrific mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, that left at least three children and three adults dead.  The school shooting is the 129th mass shooting in America so far this year, despite being fewer than 90 days into 2023. 

“This morning, a shooter entered the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, reportedly armed with two assault rifles and a handgun.  This is an elementary school, for students in preschool through 6th grade.  The children are as young as three or four years old.  Upon entering the school, the shooter opened fire and killed at least three staff members and three students,” Durbin said.

While sharing his condolences with the families and the grieving community, Durbin called on his colleagues to pass further legislation to address the gun violence epidemic. 

“I cannot begin to imagine what the families and school community are feeling right now.  We are sending our prayers and condolences – and we are grateful for the first responders who ran toward the sound of gunfire,” Durbin said.  “But once again: Thoughts and prayers are not enough.  These mass shootings – especially targeting little children – are happening with sickening regularity in this nation.”

“This is the 129th mass shooting since the year 2023 began.  One hundred and twenty-nine mass shootings in America.  We are fewer than 90 days into this calendar year.  That’s more than one mass shooting per day,” Durbin continued.

Durbin went on to highlight legislation that was passed last Congress to address the gun violence epidemic including the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.  However, Durbin emphasized that more must be done to protect children from the scourge of gun violence, particularly when they are supposed to be studying in a classroom. 

“We’ll learn more details in the hours and days ahead about what actually happened in Nashville.  But we already know what must be done to keep our children and communities safe from deadly shootings.  I strongly, strongly support bills to ban assault weapons from civilian use and to close gaps in our background check system,” Durbin said.  

“I cannot imagine the Founding Fathers would even envision what we are allowing today in the name of words that they wrote in the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights.  To think that these weapons, the one that was used in Highland Park in my home state of Illinois on Fourth of July last year, the man discharged 83 rounds in 60 seconds.  Tell me that the Founding Fathers had that in mind when they wrote the Second Amendment,” Durbin continued.

“I urge my colleagues to come together on a bipartisan basis.  We can’t say that we’ve solved this problem or say that we’ve addressed it seriously when events like the one that happened today in Nashville, Tennessee, continue today in America.  We need to pass further reform to keep guns out of dangerous hands and to keep our children safe,” Durbin concluded. 

As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Durbin held a hearing on the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen earlier this month.  In the 117th Congress, the Judiciary Committee held 11 hearings about commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, including a hearing centered on the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.

Last Congress, Durbin was a strong supporter of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which cracks down on straw purchasing, expands background checks for buyers under 21 years of age, takes steps to close the “boyfriend loophole,” supports state red flag laws, and offers billions in funding for counseling, mental health, and trauma support for victims of gun violence. While the bipartisan legislation was a starting point for gun reform, Durbin is a staunch advocate for the assault weapons ban and additional gun safety measures.

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.