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Congressman Jamie Raskin

Representing the 8th District of Maryland

Raskin Seeks House Rules Change to Require Moment of Silence for Each and Every Victim of Gun Violence in America

January 3, 2018
Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) has introduced a resolution aimed at focusing Congress’ attention on the epidemic of gun violence in America. Raskin’s Resolution (available here) would change House of Representatives’ Rules to require that a 60-second moment of silence be observed in honor of each and every person who is killed by gun violence in the U.S. on the next legislative day after their deaths occur. 2017 was just deemed the deadliest year for mass shootings in modern US history, and the “daily toll of gun violence even outside mass shootings continues to be ghastly and unacceptable,” Raskin said.

Raskin’s Resolution immediately earned the support of the Newtown Action Alliance (NAA), which noted that, although there are 33 victims of gun homicides every day, “Congress pays tribute only to mass shooting victims with a moment of silence on the House or Senate floors.” “All lives taken by gun murders in America deserve equal attention,” the NAA wrote in a letter of support (available here).

As a state legislator in Maryland, Raskin worked to pass comprehensive gun safety legislation in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, where a gunman used an assault weapon to murder 20 children and six adults. Maryland now bans military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requires fingerprint licensing and universal background checks, and imposes frequent, unannounced inspections by the Maryland State police of gun dealers to ensure they’re not selling firearms underground.

I came to Congress to work on gun safety, among other pressing issues. I know, from my state experience, that it is possible to enact common-sense and common-ground gun safety legislation that still respects people’s Second Amendment rights,” said Raskin. “But since I arrived last January, there have been 397 episodes of mass gun violence in the U.S. and two of them are among the worst massacres by gun in American history. Thousands of people died by gun in 2017, and what have we done to help end this horrifying epidemic? Nothing.”

“We have not even taken up a universal background check, which is supported by more than 90 percent of the American people. Instead, all we know how to do is have an occasional moment of silence when there’s a mass shooting so obscene that it cannot be ignored and even then our perfunctory moments of silence barely last ten seconds, and then we quickly move on to the next thing like renaming a post office,” Raskin continued. 

“Our GOP colleagues have thus far refused to consider even the most basic gun safety proposals, but this resolution would force them to reflect on the consequences of their inaction on a daily basis,” Raskin explained. “My hope is that if Congress is forced to confront the individual meaning of gun violence for our constituents in real time, we will finally take strong action to save the lives of the people we are elected to represent.”

Congressman Jamie Raskin represents Maryland’s 8th Congressional District, which includes Montgomery, Frederick, and Carroll counties. He is the Vice Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, a Senior Democratic Whip, and Freshman Representative to the House Democratic Steering & Policy Committee. He also serves on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee and the Committee on House Administration.  He has been a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years.