Rep. Ayanna Pressley: 'Guns Are the Common Factor, and the Common Enemy...Is Mitch McConnell'

Susan Jones | August 13, 2019 | 8:44am EDT
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Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) sits on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) spent her four minutes on the Trevor Noah show Monday night advocating an assault weapons ban that she says would save "millions of lives."

She used the word "enemy" to describe the Senate majority leader, even though he has expressed willingness to consider new gun legislation, if it is "serious, bipartisan, bicameral."

"OK, well first, I want to say that, yes, guns are the common factor, and the common enemy in all of this is Mitch McConnell," Pressley said.

She urged the audience to call McConnell and lobby him to bring gun control bills to a vote.

“Why haven't we acted? This gun violence is a public health crisis and epidemic,” Pressley said. “This is an urban issue, it is a rural issue, it is a suburban issue, it is transcendent, it is a public health crisis and epidemic, it is pervasive and it is growing."

She noted that New Zealand (which does not have a constitutional right to bear arms) banned semiautomatic weapons immediately after the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch.

"So why haven't we acted?" Pressley asked again. "Because of a deficit of political courage and leadership, despite a mandate -- despite a mandate from this -- from American citizens from every walk of life.”

Pressley continued:

Now, here's the other thing that I want to say is important. So, tomorrow, we could save millions of lives by passing the assault weapons ban. I mean, again, New Zealand acted in a matter of days and banned assault weapons, right? We could pass an assault weapons ban, we could pass universal background checks.

I want to give a shout out to my sister in service, (U.S. Rep.) Robin Kelly out of Illinois, because we also have to address straw purchasing and gun trafficking. We need to hold two narratives. There are mass shootings and there’s community-based violence. And we also know there are more guns than people. And for as long as that’s the case, you are going to see an intersectionality of violence.

Violence begets violence. How many mass shooters and perpetrators of violence were also abusers of women? You know, These things are all interconnected, and so we need to hold space for both community-based violence, for mass shootings, we have to prioritize whether we are robbed of a life -- they're not lost, they're stolen -- on a city block, gang-affiliated or not, or due to domestic terrorism at a mosque, a synagogue, a church, or a school. Every life matters, we’ve got to hold narrative for both.

And then finally, an issue I led in my eight year tenure on the Boston City Council, and I'm proud of my six-month tenure as a congresswoman to have convened the first hearing in the history of Congress, in the Oversight and Reform Committee, on childhood trauma. We have got to address the residual trauma that gun violence is leaving in its wake that is choking at the promise of our communities.

Trevor Noah wrapped her up: "Wow, thank you so much for being on the show. Wonderful to have you," Noah said. "I'm excited to see what else you get up to. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, everybody."

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