Speech of Mark Poloncarz as prepared for delivery for the March For Our Lives Buffalo on March 24, 2018.

We are here today to send a message to Congress, including Congressman Chris Collins and Tom Reed of WNY, that the madness of continued mass shootings must end, to let our fellow Americans know we care for them and we must stop the insanity of the endless mass slaughter of innocent persons.

This seems to be an endless cycle of violence. Every time there is a mass shooting the leadership in the White House, House and Senate offered their thoughts and prayers for the victims.

But thoughts and prayers are not enough. The definition of insanity is doing nothing and hoping for a different result. Well if we do nothing we will see more of the same. We need action because our right to live is greater than a person’s right to own any weapon of their choice.

How can we claim we are the greatest country on Earth when we see the slaughter of patrons at a movie theater, party-goers at a club, representatives on a baseball field, attendees at a concert, students at a high school, and, still unbelievably, kindergartners in their classroom, and be told we have to accept this because the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms is so sacrosanct that it matters more than my or your right to live?

Our right to live outweighs a person’s right to own any weapon they want.

Common sense gun laws are supported by a large majority of Americans. No one is talking about taking away shotguns or hunting rifles, but prohibiting the sale of weapons of mass death and destruction and preventing those who should not own any gun, like the mentally ill, from having them.

I come from a family of hunters and I have many friends that are hunters. I’ve fired a shotgun myself at targets. But no matter who I talk to I cannot find anyone who thinks it makes sense to have complete and unfettered access to guns that can kill dozens, perhaps hundreds, in the time it took me to read this paragraph.

Truthfully, if you need an AR-15 to go hunting you shouldn’t be hunting in the first place.

I had the great honor to attend President Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013 as guest of Congressman Higgins. It was one of the thrills of my life but also a very solemn one because this address was the one following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

I met survivors of the Sandy Hook. I was given this green ribbon in their honor and I wore it proudly in the Chambers as it seemed our nation would pass common sense gun laws.

And here we are today, 5 years later and nothing’s changed. Innocent men, women and children have been gunned down indiscriminately, often with the same weapon that caused so much death at Sandy Hook Elementary – the AR-15.

Well folks we can do something.

As the survivors of the Parkland Florida shooting remind us we must do something.

We must re-instate the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, a ban which outlawed the AR-15 and similar weapons that cause mass death and destruction.

The 2nd Amendment right to bear arms in not absolute, limits can be placed. Even Justice Scalia in the Heller decision noted the type of guns can be restricted.

So it is time we do more than just offer our thoughts and prayers for the victims and their families of this senseless gun violence.

It is time we took our nation back from the very few who believe their right to own whatever arms they want is more important that our right to live.

It is time our nation, as a civilized society, stands up and passes common sense guns laws that prevent those who should not have guns from buying them.

It is time we require all sellers of guns, including unlicensed sellers at shows and through internet sales, require background checks for all sales.

It is time we pass legislation that values our unalienable right to our life over the right of some person to terrorize us no matter where we are: a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida, a concert in Las Vegas, or, once again, a school in Parkland, Florida.

It is time we take back our country from the tyranny of the minority represented by the NRA and Gun Lobby.

I thank you all for being here today. Together we will change our country. Thank you.

Copyright Mark C. Poloncarz, 2018