WASHINGTON, D.C. – The top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) delivered the following opening statement at an Oversight Subcommittee Hearing on The Public Health Consequences and Costs of Gun Violence.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Chairman Lewis, for calling this hearing today.
“This is a critically important topic. The rising costs of health care remain a top concern of workers and families across the country.
“And keeping our places of worship, our schools, and our communities safe from violence is something we all care about deeply.
“As a father, as a neighbor, as a taxpayer, I want to know that my tax dollars are being spent wisely to keep our streets safe.
“I want my children to be able to walk to the store without being in danger.
“But unfortunately we know that is not always the case.
“There are pockets of the country that see violence consistently; and truthfully, even in the safest zip codes, the potential for violence can never truly reach zero – we are human beings and we are inherently flawed.
“Violence and its causes are myriad, though always unacceptable. And the toll that gun violence in particular has on our public health are notable.
“Republicans on this Committee want to work toward bipartisan solutions that keep our communities safe and bring down the cost of health care.
“But what we don’t want to engage in is a multi-hour screaming match about the Second Amendment or about partisan, likely unconstitutional bills that rightfully are not being entertained by the Senate or the President.
“There are a number of commonsense proposals that Republicans have championed that we are eager to work with our Democrat colleagues on so that they can become law.
“Including the Mass Violence Prevention Act, which will reduce the flow of firearms into the black market and limit the number of weapons available to criminals.
“As well as the Fix NICS Act, the STOP School Violence Act, and making needed clarifications to the ‘Dickey Amendment.’
“Because if this is an issue that Democrats want to take seriously – and I truly believe that everyone on this dais today does – we must develop constitutional, workable, bipartisan solutions to this problem.
“And that begins by looking at what we can do within our jurisdiction, specifically regarding health care.
“Approximately two-thirds of all firearm fatalities result from suicide. Suicides and mental health treatment account for the largest portion of firearm-related deaths, injuries, and related costs.
“In 2017, 45,000 American adults died from suicide compared to 19,000 homicide deaths.
“And this issue only escalates if we look to our nation’s veterans – where over 6,000 of our nation’s heroes died from suicide in 2017 alone.
“These statistics are heartbreaking. And I’m certain that every Member and panelist here today has painfully had to bear the burden of seeing a loved one leave this earth before their time was up.
“The pain that communities and families endure due to suicides only pale in comparison to the pain that the ones we care about the most tried to live through.
“But it is as Saint Francis reminds us, ‘a single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.’
“And I’m hopeful today that working together we can begin finding these sunbeams that can shine into the shadows that so many Americans daily face.
“We as Members of this Committee have the jurisdictional right – and indeed, the call – to act on this.
“As Dr. Henn of Intermountain Healthcare will tell us today, there are steps we can take to help our friends and neighbors who are struggling without impeding on their Second Amendment rights.
“This means we should work with, not against, gun owners to ensure that they are safe.
“By using an all-hands-on-deck approach, we can help medical professionals respectfully counsel patients regarding to access to lethal means and encouraging people in crisis to use a means-reduction approach.
“It also means talking to one another about the difficulties we face, whether they be visible or internal. Stressing that it is okay to ask for help and that we are here for you.
“This is a heavy topic, and it is something I know Members on both sides of the aisle have passionate and often compassionate views on.
“Let today be a chance for us to come together and work toward a solution that can be signed into law, one that will improve our health care system while making our communities safer.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”