Boxer on gun violence: ‘The slaughter of innocents must stop’

“We will never be able to stand here and say we’ve solved every problem — you can’t — but you have to be able to know that you did everything you could to reduce these tragedies,” Boxer said. “We need to do common sense things around here. … The slaughter of innocents must stop.”

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The Senate is debating S.649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, which would expand background checks on gun purchases, crack down on gun trafficking and beef up security in schools. GOP senators have vowed to block that bill, claiming it goes too far and infringes on the rights of gun-owners.

The bill doesn’t include an assault weapons ban or limits on magazine clip capacity — although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) promised votes on those provisions as amendments.

Democrats have been pushing for stricter gun laws since December, when a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“The shooting at Sandy Hook is another reminder that we have failed our children,” Boxer said. “I don’t know how to put it another way.”

Boxer is the lead sponsor of the school safety measures within the Senate bill, the School and Campus Safety Enhancement Act. She said her legislation would give schools grants and flexibility to make infrastructure improvements, such as camera installations, fences and locks on door, in order to increase school safety around the country.

“What we’ve done in this bill is not a one-size fits all,” Boxer said. “You come up with the plan and send it to the Department of Justice … and if it’s worthwhile we’ll fund it up to 50 percent.”

Boxer pointed to statistics that say school shooting rose from 27 between 1979 and 1988 to 66 between 1999 and 2008.

Reid is working with Republicans on an agreement to hold votes on amendments as early as this week. 

Boxer said the votes will be “politically difficult” but they are necessary to “keep our children safe.”

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