Before you read the following speech from Sarah Brady I would like to remind you of a few points. This speech was given just two weeks before the 1994 General Elections. As you read I am sure that you will see that Sarah and HCI had big plans in store for gunowners. Those have thankfully been put on hold, at least for a while, due to outcome of that election. But as you read through this piece please note that it holds a warning, a warning about the anti's plan of action. This plan was advanced in the last Texas Legislative session, with a fair amount of success.
The trigger lock bill was one of them--it is now illegal to give your child a .22 rifle on his 16th birthday. On her own initiative, anti-gun Austin Police Chief Elizabeth Watson added yet another layer to the Brady background check for protective orders. This initiative was followed by the legislature which expanded her idea into a state law that would still require a check for protective orders even if the Brady Act was repealed tomorrow. So, it is plain that the anti's are not giving up, and they have drawn many battle lines for the future.
What you are going to read is an example of the many threats we face. Note that the organization "sponsoring" Ms. Brady's speech, Texans Against Gun Violence, is an HCI "clone" corporation recently created to push the anti-gun agenda here in Texas. Do you think your gun rights are safe in their hands? I, for one, do not. Please take the time to become involved; waiting for the other guy to do something just will not cut it. There are many groups and political organizations who know that the Second Amendment is a right and are doing things to preserve it. I would like to invite you to become a member of PEACEABLE TEXANS. We need your help.
The following document was transcribed with the utmost care, there are parts that sound disjointed, sections where grammatical decisions had to be made and phrases that, no matter how many times they were listened to, were not understandable and a best guess was made. The asterisks (*) indicate factual assertions that can be refuted.
Speech from Sarah Brady, delivered to general public on October 13, 1994, at the Thompson Conference Center, at the University of Texas, Austin, TX:
I want to thank you for inviting me here tonight and for you being here tonight. I want to thank the state of Texas because they have made me feel very welcome since I have been here. We have just visited the Alamo yesterday and after learning all about Texas Independence Day and coming here and becoming an Honorary Citizen of Austin.
Having the background and maybe you do not know this--my husband has with this, Jim--he is doing well--Jim fits in wherever he goes. I do not know if you realize or know this Jim worked on the Connally Campaign for President before he joined the Reagan Campaign and he came down here and fell in love with Texas. When he came home from one of his campaign trips back to Virginia, our child was just a baby at that time, he, Jim, walked in with a new accent, that I have never heard before, Lucchese cowboy boots that had taken half of his salary I think and a hat, and I want you to know that on Texas Independence Day in 1980 the Connally campaign celebrated in South Carolina with Strom Thurman was helping the South Carolina Connally Campaign and they celebrated by making Goat Gat Chili for the whole group. I have a little bit of ties with Texas but I have never been a citizen, an honorary citizen of the city before and I thank you. I am thrilled to see the support and interest here in Austin, and throughout Texas, on this very important subject of Public Safety and that we are here to talk about today or this evening.
I think that those of you who are attending the conference tomorrow will be getting this wonderful brochure that is put out by Texans Against Gun Violence and I thing that speaks on exactly how I feel. Advocating responsible gun ownership. I got involved in this issue, most of you probably think that it was a reaction to Jim getting shot down and no it was not. In fact it was the last thing I thought about at the moment. I had a very sick husband and I certainly never thought that "gee if there were not guns, I want to take away guns; if there were not guns this would not have happened." This was the furthest thing from my mind.
What did get me involved was something that happened several years later, our son was two when Jim was hurt and Scott at this next occurrence was about five. We were out in southern Illinois' visiting my husbands' family, Centralia. Some friends came by to take us swimming and they had a pickup truck and Scott, this little fellow, jumped in the middle, I went and got in behind him and he picked up off the seat which he thought and I thought at the moment was a toy gun and was kinda playing around and I said, "Scot, don't ever point a toy gun at anybody; don't ever point any gun at anybody". I took it from him only to realize that it was not a toy they had laying there. It was not a toy, a child, my child, had picked up but was a fully loaded .22, VERY MUCH LIKE THE ONE THAT JOHN HINKLEY HAD USED TO SHOOT MY HUSBAND [said with emphasis]. Well my blood boiled because this is my child; I love him. I realized that he came, we came, close to another "tragedy" in our family.
The first thing I thought was how could any responsible person leave a gun on a seat of an open pickup truck, doors wide open were anybody could get a hold of it--a child--anybody that should of have it, and that is when I decided to get involved.
And from the very first day that I have been involved with HCI--which sounds like an ominous term. The one thing that I have pushed for has been responsible gun ownership; responsible and keeping guns out of the wrong hands. We are not for disarming people in this nation at all,* that is the furthest thing from our minds, but what we are is for saving lives. Now I am known as the Number One Gun Grabber in this country. I don't want to grab anyone's guns. I can assure you, but what I do want to do is make things safer.
Every year we loose 38,000 people , that we are so used to hearing that kind of number that it does not even phase us, 38,000 die; some are from homicides; some are suicides, and some are accidents and we need to act. The problem of how are we going to save the lives and the hundred of thousands* more that are injured like Jim whose lives are completely changed forever. Are being severely hurt by these weapons and so we have felt and continue to feel that when you have an epidemic it is a public safety issue and you must attack it along those lines. I do not believe in extremism; I don't believe that we should arm every man, woman and child including felons and fugitives in this United States. No, I do not, then again I do not believe we should ban handguns or hunting weapons either. I think that there are extremists on both sides.
There are people sure would like to ban everything; there're others who would like--do not want any laws and would arm everyone. But somewhere in the middle are most of us who feel that if you are responsible--FINE, but let us do everything to instill that responsibility and I know Texans' love their guns. Lots of people in this Nation do. One of the very first speeches I gave was in New Hampshire to a town hall meeting years ago and absolutely nobody came to hear me except two bus loads of NRA members. They sat politely and listened, so Texas is not the only state that loves their guns, people in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts everywhere. That's part of our culture and we are not trying to change that, but Texans I know also know a lot about gun violence. According to a new report by the Department of Health, Guns are the number one cause* of Death to Texans under the age of 44--that is--that is a pretty pathetic. That statistic is applicable to 70% of the population of the state, 70% are under 44.
For the fourth year in a row gun deaths have exceeded motor vehicle fatalities in Texas and Sunday will mark the third anniversary of the massacre in Killeen, Luby's. So I understand that Texas cannot ignore or that gun violence exists in this state as it does nation wide. Reference back to Centrailia, IL. No one can consider themselves immune from the terrible epidemic that claims more than 15 people a day, 15 children a day, excuse me, more than a hundred Americans a day.*
HCI, the organization I chair--and I think we share this also with Texans Against Gun Violence--want and I have said this before, our key is responsibility. Responsibility from gun owners, responsibility from the dealers, and responsibility from the manufacturers of guns and that is what gun control is kids, responsibility. It is not banning; gun control can work and can work even more effectively and that is why I think more and more Americans are demanding tougher laws.
To show how some of them have worked, back during the Bush Administration, President Bush banned the importation of certain types of assault weapons, only a certain type, not assault pistols but a certain type of long gun. The AK 47 being one* and immediately following that ban the number of those kind of weapons being traced to a firing decreased by 40%.* So that is a pretty good statistic right there. The Brady Law, the Brady Bill which had one purpose only and I think we ought to go back over what that purpose was. It was to stop over the counter sales; that means from a gun dealer to the first purchaser, to felons, to fugitives, those people adjudicated mentally ill, to illegal aliens and to those people who are under age, and this is only over the counter sales this is not, cannot, cover anybody else on that. It has worked and it has worked even better than we expected. We kept hearing that criminals do not buy guns over the counter, no certainly not all of them do, but many many do and this is how well it has worked.
In the first month alone more than 23,000 felons were stopped from buying handguns over the counter, many included murders and rapists and this is according to the ATF.* A report issued after the first hundred days of the Brady law showed that in Houston Texas more than 16 percent of the purchasers were denied because of criminal records, 16%.* In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, more than six percent were denied, but the most staggering place of all, and this so not to make any of you feel defensive about Texas, the most staggering place of all was in Georgia where 33 %, clearly one-third of all applications were submitted by felons* and were turned down. So that answers the question do criminals buy their weapons over the counter; many do and the Brady Law has stopped that over the counter sale.
Does that stop our problem totally? No, it does stop over the counter sales, there is more to do. We have to attack black market sales, and that can be done effectively, it can be done effectively without in any way, shape, or form affecting the ability of the law abiding citizen to be able to get a gun.
You here in Austin are very fortunate, I heard that about Austin before I came here. What a wonderful--I have been hearing for years how wonderful Austin is--and the minute I got to town, that this is an oasis. And it is. Your are fortunate here, you have a commitment here to help solve this problem and you have an even stronger Brady Law, because you have a law enforcement officer and leader here who truly cares about who she is charged with protecting. Austin's Police Chief Elizabeth Watson was the driving force behind adding those under protective orders for spousal abuse to the list of prohibited handgun purchasers. This is not a national law, but here in Austin it is, and that makes good sense and we advocate it nation wide. There is no reason that somebody who has been--who has that pattern--who has a protective order against them should have a gun. That is a formula--and it is right there ready for an explosion. It is violence that can be stopped and stopped easily. Chief Watson, I think Austin's residents owe you an awful lot. I think in many cases there are going to be many lives that were saved because of you and many folks here in Austin lead by Texans Against Gun Violence are working for more gun responsibility. Common sense measures like training--does it not make good sense--that people know how to use the weapons. In the old days my dad--my dad he was a Law Enforcement Officer, an FBI Agent and from the time I was a child we knew and were taught about the responsibility of having a gun in the house. My father new what a gun was for and taught us what it was for. We knew never to misuse or abuse. This nation has changed, there are people purchasing guns that no more know how to load them, how to unload them, how to keep them safe; how to do anything with them at all. They walk out of a gun store with absolutely no clue, they want it for self protection but have no clue how to use it, how to keep it safely from kids, and in that situation, that gun is 43 times more likely to be misused than it ever is to be used effectively in protecting ones' self.* That statistic comes from the New England Journal of Medicine. It has been researched over the years that a gun in the home is much more a danger to the owner* or to those around him than it will be used--most especially if that person does not know what he is doing--so we advocate mandatory safety training.
We need to expand the list of prohibited purchasers to those convicted of violent misdemeanors and cracking down on the illegal sales at gun shows. It is a travesty of how many gun shows are now--there are so many illegal sales. So long as we are careful in the way we sell them and the dealers' are responsible that is absolutely fine. We need to control the dealers being responsible. I am proud of the Texans Against Violence because they are working toward common sense responsible legislation. Today people say their #1 fear is crime. But when they talk about being afraid of crime, what is it they are really afraid of? Its not so much being mugged or robbed anymore, they're fearful of being shot and rightfully so. For being shot for driving too slowly--right in Alexandria, Virginia, right where I live just recently there have been almost daily shootings on I95 which is the main interstate North and South. People are mad because they cannot get around them, so they pump bullets in the car. People are being shot because they do not give up the valuables fast enough or people are being shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We know gun violence is on the rise.* Guns in the hands of criminals, guns in the hands of kids, guns in the wrong hands has changed the National Landscape. We have for the future, my organization HCI, and our sister organization Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, have what we think is a comprehensive plan to fight gun violence in the future.
It includes legislation, but I know legislation in and of itself is not going to totally solve the problem. We also have a comprehensive program that includes education and research. I am going to talk to you just briefly on our agenda on both sides and when I get through with this I am going to questions and answers. I think we get more accomplished that way than any other way.
The Gun Violence Prevention Act which was introduced just this year, introduced by Sen. H. Metzenbaum and Rep. Chuck Schumer in the House which was dubbed "Brady II," changes the way we deal with firearms. Will change the way we deal with firearms in the future as I told you a little bit ago or maybe I did not mention this. Over the years car accidents have killed all over the Nation more-- they're responsible for killing more people and wound--injuries than any other accidental death or purposeful reason at all. Other than medical reason like heart attacks and that type of thing--anything in the way of injuries--and in the last few years that has begun to change. Six states and the District of Columbia have the proud distinction of having gunshots being the leading cause of deaths and injury; Texas is one of those states. We feel that with automobile injuries and deaths the nation recognizes an epidemic; they say what can we do to stop this? We have speed limits, and lots of people don't like speed limits. Like I know sometimes it's fun to get, if there is no traffic, and go a little faster but we did it to save lives. We require that people when they go to drive have a driver's license and know a mandatory test. They have to take a course, they have to pass it in order to drive. We need to begin with these gun shops the very same way we dealt with deaths and injuries with the automobile. Regulate, but not ban or take away. It is regulation and it is done for one purpose only and that is to save lives so we advocate in our bill in the future that we require licensing of all purchasers, licensing to include mandatory safety training, and that every purchaser have this license; whether they buy it from a licensed gun dealer or whether they buy it from their neighbor. And in order to do that just as we do with cars you must register your gun, not a large Federal registry in Washington; of all of the gun owners. If they wanted that, all we would have to do--of our Government--is try to take over all of the guns in this country, which they--there is no chance of anyway--but all they would have to do is go to the NRA Headquarters and get their mailing list* and they could go get them, so that would be the easy way you don't bother registering them.
So we do not advocate a Federal registry at all, but done on a state basis just like we do for cars and the reason for that is to instill the responsibility on that gun owner's part. Today when you buy over the counter you have to go through a background check, but after that no matter who you sell it to, it does not matter. You are not held responsible for that weapon but if it is used in a crime 10 years from now all you have to say is I gave it to my neighbor; sold it to someone else; I lost it; you are not responsible anymore.
Every gun owner should be responsible for what happens to his or her weapon. That's all we say, and the way to do that is through registration. You buy it from--you have to buy it from a licensed gun dealer to begin with, then when you go to sell it you be sure that the person you sell it to also has a license and that weapon is in their name if it is ever misused, they're the one who is responsible. It is a way of instilling and putting responsibility on the right person. Today you can walk-in and buy a hundred guns and resell them. They can be for sale on the streets which is the black market--and there is really no problem with that? We cannot allow that. We cannot allow black market sales to the wrong people. Fine for law abiding people with licenses because they have undergone a background check and they have undergone mandatory safety test. They can go in and buy them legally, but we have to keep them out of the black market. Registration will help with that.* Another aspect is what Virginia has done: one gun a month. For those people who are gun lovers it might look restrictive, "ahh gee, I cannot go in anytime I want and get a gun; I would have to wait, and do only one a month." Other people who do not particularly care for guns at all will say why does anyone need 12 a year, but the purpose is not to regulate the gun, the purpose is to stop black market sales. It stops--you got a gun trafficker who wants to sell guns on the street of Washington D.C. How does he get a hundred guns to sell? Up until last year he went to Virginia just like that, bought a 100 guns and was selling on the streets of DC in 20 minutes or an hour.* As long as it took to get across the bridge. Now in Virginia you can only buy one, and you are on computer and instead of that gun trafficker going to Virginia and buying a 100 guns he has to go and look for a hundred people who will sell him one. He says the heck with that, and he will go to North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia or any of the other 49 States. So if we have that on a national basis, that will stop the black market availability.* It all comes down to responsible ways that we can keep guns out of the hands where they do not belong, but as I have said before, you cannot do this by legislation alone. Yes you can do everything to keep theses guns out of the wrong hands, but we have to recognize the fact that there are millions of guns out there and they are going to stay out there. That's fine so long as the people who own them are responsible with them, so we have to educate or re-educate or remind people what their responsibilities are with those weapons.
Toward that end we have--the Citizens To Prevent Handgun Violence--has several educational programs, one of which is called "STOP: STEPS TO PREVENTION," one we have done in conjunction with the American Academy of Pediatricians. Recognizing parents, new parents, when they go in to see the Pediatrician are counseled on poison control and swimming pools, keep it covered. Different things to make the home safer, well part of that should be if you have a gun in your home remember, it can be a ticking time bomb with a child. Take responsibility, make sure that gun is not left were a child can get a hold of it or a neighbor's child who comes in. Many people say I taught my child how to use a gun, he would never touch that gun; I don't know; I taught school, and I got a son. There is nothing as responsible as my child is I--I was a child myself. I remember what it was like, even though people trusted me pretty well I don't think there is any judge [sic] you can totally trust, and we see the problem with that everyday, but then there is also--suppose you can trust your own child--there is the neighbor's child can come in and get a hold of it so the pediatricians are wonderful counselors in this area to remind parents of that responsibility.
We have another program called--we hand out kits, posters, safety reminders for parents so they will constantly remember to be careful with that weapon if they have one in their home. We also have a program called "STAR." "Straight Talk About Risk," which is a pre-kindergarten through 12th grade curriculum which teaches anti gun-violence. It teaches other ways kids solve problems. Conflict resolution, other ways to solve your problem other than through violence or through guns.
So many kids--we wonder today--their kids are carrying guns to schools all the time. One out of 20 high school kids have reported taking a gun to school and one out of five have reported taking some kind of weapon to school, and we wonder why, and are amazed--think--this is not the way it ought to be, but why are they doing this. They are doing it out of fear, and they're getting the message somewhere it is OK, and we have to remember what kind of messages do we send our kids. If we have a gun out there and available and waiting to pull it any second any one threatens us, says anything or shows the wrong movement. Then they think if they go to school and are fearful, "gee, its OK to take a gun to school." We have to remember the way we send our messages is very, very important and these kids have to learn that there are other ways to solve our problems.
Other nations do it beautifully. We are the only civilized nation that solves its problems by getting in a gun battle any more. Nobody else does it, and people here will say, "look there is violence, you could go to England, you could get bombed. They have the war with Ireland, look at all the bombings in England." Look at the statistics, the war has been going on for 25 years, and in 25 years you know how many people have been killed over there? Less than 3000 in 25 years. We loose 38,000 a year over here,* and all are not done by fugitives and felons. They are done by kids killing kids by mistake, on purpose. Their families getting in fights, or they get too much to drink, and they pull out that weapon. There are people over-reacting, there are mistakes, and they can all be stopped. They can all be stopped through responsibility.
The school violence prevention curriculum is not anti-gun, it is just another way to solve problems than through fighting. Being Houston's, and many school districts throughout the country; last year was it's first year it was used in San Diego and Oakland, California, the New York City public schools, Chicago, Cleveland, Connecticut, the middle schools in New Jersey, Dade County Florida. We would love to see it all over the nation, one other way kids can learn responsibility and how else to solve our problems.
We are also working with the entertainment field. We have an office in California, these kids get the idea, why they would not, from watching TV every day that violence is fine. We see shows every day where it is happening. We don't think violence needs to be taken off TV. We don't believe that TV is totally responsible, but it is sending messages and we say in our briefings and our work with the Hollywood Community that portrays being responsible. Don't glamorize the gun, show the reality of what happens. The kids see someone shot on Friday night and on Saturday morning they see that person back. They do not realize the true consequences and the heartbreak. The Hollywood Community has been cooperating and has done lots of TV sitcoms that have shown the reality of gun violence and what guns in the home can do when guns are used irresponsibly. It is just a matter of, in my estimation of using common sense. Common sense laws, which keep them out of the wrong hands and common sense education which demands of all of us that if you are a gun owner, be responsible; if you are not, look at the facts before you decide to become one too. Be sure that you are buying it for the right reason, if it is for hunting fine, if it is for a legitimate reason, but if you think you just want to have one for self protection, educate yourself before you buy it. I think its all common sense responsibility. It is not an effort to disarm this country.
I'll hope you'll help join in. You'll have plenty of opportunities to join in here in Texas. The Texans Against Handgun Violence are going to be active year after year. The people through out Texas and the country are demanding more and more--join in and help get responsible laws through. Because, what happens as we all know in this county, and is typical in any situation, when a problem gets so severe that people cannot stand the problem they turn, many times they turn to ridiculous laws, or try and go overboard. The pendulum will swing so far the other way that it is not going to be helpful either. Work for common sense middle-of-the-road laws that we know work.* Laws that law enforcement backs.* We wouldn't have gotten the Brady Bill or the ban on assault weapons if law enforcement nation-wide had not pushed and lobbied for it strongly,* if the National PTA had not strongly backed it, if the doctors, lawyers*--every group literally that you have heard of in this country backed the Brady Bill and the ban on Assault Weapons, except the gun lobby.
It takes everybody working together for common sense laws. But it can be done, and we will work to keep them common sense. I hope a lots of you would work with us and will work with these fine people here who are working so hard here in Austin. I know we will have a safer society one day. I know there will be a day when our kids can go to school without fear of being shot, where they don't feel a need to take a gun to school; where there is no need for metal detectors. Where all of us realize that when you go to school you are going there to learn. How can any child learn when they are fearful for their life, which is the situation around this nation today. We'll all work together, to do that. I'll look forward to working with lots of you in the future. You have been a great audience, I can tell that there are many people who are interested. I appreciate those on the other side that you have listened patiently. I respect you for doing that, and for affording me my time on the podium, and now I would be more than happy to answer questions because I think questions and answers is maybe the time we can really solve some of the misunderstandings on this issue, so I would like to thank you again. .
Transcribed by Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights. Video and audio tapes of this speech are in our possession.