‘High noon in America’: In House testimony, Mayor Adams urges Congress to take swift action on gun violence

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Mayor Eric Adams testifies Reform Committee on gun violence in Washington D.C. Wednesday, June 8, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams went to Washington Wednesday to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, calling on Congress to take swift action in addressing the ongoing daily gun violence crisis plaguing the New York City’s streets and a recent spate of mass shootings across the nation.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is high noon in America,” Adams said during the June 8 hearing. “Time for every one of us to decide where we stand on the issue of gun violence. Time to decide if it is more important to protect the profits of gun manufacturers or the lives of our children. Time to decide if we are going to be a nation of laws, or a confederation of chaos. And we must do it now. It is high noon in America. The clock is ticking, every day, every minute towards another hour of death. I am here today to ask every one of you, and everyone in this Congress, to stand with me to end gun violence and protect the lives of all Americans.”

The mayor also attended a meeting with the New York Congressional Delegation before testifying.

Mayor Eric Adams and Congress Member Jerry Nadler (D – Manhattan, Brooklyn) in a New York Congressional Delegation meeting on gun violence. Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

Adams’ visit to Capitol Hill comes before the House is set to vote on a package of gun control bills named the “Protecting Our Kids Act” – HR 7910 – in response to two recent mass shootings in Buffalo, where 10 people were gunned down; and Uvalde, TX, which claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

The package includes eight bills that would raise the age for buying a semi-automatic rifle from 18 to 21, outlaw large capacity magazines, encourage safe storage of firearms and strengthens the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ (ATF) ban on bump stocks – devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

While the package of gun control legislation is likely to pass the Democratic-led House, even though many Republicans have indicated they’ll be voting against it, it’ll likely face an uphill battle in the 50-50 U.S. Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster. The legislation as is will likely not advance in the upper chamber, but a bipartisan group of senators is working on a narrower package to address gun violence.

During his testimony before the House Oversight Committee – chaired by Congress Member Carolyn Maloney (D – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) – Adams called on the House and the Senate to pass the Protecting Our Children Act, but also to take action on several other gun control measures. In a joint statement with Congress Member Jerry Nadler (D – Manhattan, Brooklyn) – the bill’s main sponsor and dean of the New York Congressional Delegation – preceding Adams’ testimony, he said its passage is critical to preventing future school shootings.

“We discussed how Congress is working to pass the ‘Protecting Our Kids Act,’ which will help prevent the next mass shooting,” the pair said. “It will also keep our communities and schools safer by addressing many of the loopholes that allow guns to fall into the wrong hands.”

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney (D – Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) during House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence. Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

Adams also called for the Senate to pass a pair of bills – HR 8 and HR 1446. The first would require background checks for anyone purchasing a gun in any venue, effectively closing the so-called “gun show loophole.” And the second would change the federal law that waives a background check requirement for gun sales after three business days have passed.

“These are bipartisan gun safety bills that will make our cities and our people safer,” Adams said.

The mayor also demanded Congress “take the handcuffs off” of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) by moving quickly to confirm former U.S. Attorney Steve Dettelbach, President Joe Biden’s nominee, to lead the agency.

Mayor Eric Adams testifies before Congress. Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office.

The mayor’s testimony comes a few days after Governor Kathy Hochul signed a new package of gun control bills into law in New York that implement on the state level some of the measures House Democrats are looking to enact on the national level. These include raising the age for purchasing an assault-style rifle from 18 to 21, restricting who can purchase body armor and microstamping ammunition.

Taking immediate action on gun violence, Adams said, is crucial to building a country where children have the safety to thrive.

“This is my calling, my duty, and my life’s work,” Adams said. “I did it as a police officer, in a uniform and wearing the badge. And I do it now, as the elected leader of our largest American city. But I need your help to further protect our people and to save lives. The time to act is now.”

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