By press release
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, House Republicans tried to silence a Democratic bid to honor American victims of gun violence and first responders and law enforcement responding to the tragedy. While the possibility of continuing the speech was put to a vote, ultimately Rep. Debra Altschiller (D-Stratham) the ability to make remarks prevailed. Below are the unanimous consent remarks she made to the body:
“Resilience is hard. I have an inner flame of hope, a faith in people and a vision of a better tomorrow. This flame fuels my public service.
Winds of despair almost singled out my flame of hope on Tuesday, almost.
Yesterday I was at a high school in the Seacoast area and I was talking with the head of the council. They told me that the school used to have 9 fire drills scheduled during the school year. Now they have 5 fire drills and 4 active gunnery drills.
Like many of you here I both worked at the school, for me it was a Seacoast Elementary School where I volunteered as a room parent, coach, scout leader and chaperone of activity. When, as an adult, you participate in one of these exercises, it is painful to be with the students as they huddle against a cement wall, away from windows and doors.
As a parent, I felt the fear of calling my child’s cell phone to hear his voice when I learned that the supermarket he was in had a man waving a gun around the parking lot just outside. outside of where he shopped.
We do not have a gun policy in this state. We leave our fate to chance.
Leaving our fate to chance means anything is possible, anything It could happen. We roll the dice on the safety of our children.
Our gun violence prevention policy must depend on luck. This is not a good policy because luck is capricious.
We are only 5 months into the year and 27 American schools have experienced shootings. Last year there were 34 – and schools were closed for much of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 8 more school shootings and the record is broken.
But unlucky is not limited to schools, you can be unlucky while shopping, praying in a synagogue or in church, playing ball in a field, attending a music festival, hearing an elected talk outside, at the movies, at home the possibilities are endless. In America, on this 147th day of the year, we have seen 213 mass shootings.
No doubt everyone has now heard the names of murdered children, teachers, grandparents, security guards. It’s really important to honor their memories, may they be a blessing.
In the past 147 days alone, thousands of paramedics, firefighters and law enforcement have rushed to bloody crime scenes. Unfortunately, the continuous images, the biographies, the stories of the loved ones of murder victims have no impact on some hearts in this room. What if today, at this very moment, we recognize survivors and responders?
911 dispatchers who respond to terror calls from the terrorized and send help. We know that the haunting sounds of victims’ voices and the background noises of active crime can never be ignored.
Let’s recognize the firefighters and police rushing to places people should be getting out of. Securing crime scenes and bearing the burden of having to try to quickly discern who is friend or foe during a calamity.
Think of paramedics working to restart hearts that have stopped, patching gaping wounds, tightening tourniquets to save limbs, encouraging our loved ones to hang on while you take them to hospital.
The emergency room staff who whip the bleeding stretchers and smash them into sterile rooms and use all of their medical training and training to fix what’s been destroyed. The doctors and nurses who work valiantly to save lives and keep us informed in waiting rooms as we gasp with worry and despair.
Let’s remember the guards who have to pick up the computers, backpacks, lunch boxes, overturned shopping carts and prayer books so the crime scene cleaners can come in and pick up the mounds of flesh and wipe up the stains blood on the walls and floors.
Think of the unlucky journalists who cover the scenes of the unlucky again and again. The words seem inadequate and the photos shockingly familiar.
If those left are lucky enough to have access to mental health care, will they be lucky enough to find someone who can shed some light on the deep, enveloping pain of the dark places the survivors are plunged into.
Some survivors are lucky enough to be the recipients of meal trains where friends and neighbors bring food. Even the most lovingly prepared meal cannot fill the empty place at the table.
Teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia came to school two days ago to teach and breathed their last trying to protect their students from the misfortune of being the chosen class for a mass shooter.
Relying on luck is not good public policy! The tragedies we see every day show how the odds are stacked against us. We need to act. Now. We have already passed gun violence legislation in the House, so that we don’t let our thoughts and prayers be drowned out by the gunfire. It wasn’t luck, it was hard work.
We need more people working to protect our communities from gun violence. Leading, defending the safety of schools and communities so that teachers, grocery clerks and clergy do not have to defend themselves as if they were in a theater of war. Our schools, places of worship, stores and concert halls should not be the killing fields we have allowed them to become. Life or death cannot be left to chance. This House has already passed gun violence legislation, not letting thoughts and prayers be drowned out by gunfire. It wasn’t luck, it was hard work, let’s start over.
We in this House have the power to protect innocent lives. Let’s not leave our fate to chance. Let us unite in love and respect for our fellow New Hampshire citizens to reduce the risk of innocent people being slaughtered in a senseless massacre. We can reduce the risk of tragedy, but only if we act.