Text: Kerry on Assault Weapons
Following is the full text of Democratic candidate John F. Kerry's speech on assault weapons.
KERRY: Thank you, all of you, for being here this morning.
particularly am pleased to be here at the
We're grateful to them.
I really can't tell you how grateful I am. I'm touched personally and honored by the endorsement today and the endorsements that I've received from police officers before today.
I want to thank the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Coalition of Public Safety Officers for their endorsement today.
these organizations, along with the International Brotherhood of Police
Officers, an international union of police associations, and police officers
And like me and like you, they are tired of a president who takes cops off the streets with one hand and puts assault weapons -- military assault weapons back on with the other.
It's an honor for me to be here with the mayor of this city, Anthony Williams, who struggles with this every day. And I want to run through each of these people because it's important they're here.
And their being here, Mr. President, makes a statement about the choice that you have made.
I'm here with Congressman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who's been a champion, fighting for protecting young kids and making our streets safer and helping our communities to build themselves.
I'm here with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, who's been one of the heroes of this effort, who's suffered personal tragedy, who understands what happens, who's had the courage to go out and fight for the things that she believes in as a result.
I'm here with Sandra Grace, whom you just heard from, who represents people in uniform, police officers all across our country, who every day, in every action, put themselves at risk. Why? To help us be safer, to raise the quantity of life in our country, to give our children the opportunity to go to school without the threat of some kid pulling out a gun and shooting other kids.
And I'm here with Senator Joe Biden, who in those 17 years, as either chairman or ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, and even when he hasn't been in that position, in one of the longest careers in the Senate, has always been a champion of common sense and of trying to make our streets safer.
years ago, thanks to Joe Biden and his leadership,
which he fought for year after year, we passed a tough crime bill in order to
And we made sure, in a tough fight, that criminals couldn't get their hands on military assault weapons.
I'm proud of the role that I played in that fight with Joe to help lead the effort to put 100,000 cops in our nation's communities where they could stop crimes before they happen.
And it worked. I learned that firsthand when I was a law enforcement officer. People don't think of D.A.s, assistant district attorneys, as law enforcement, but we are; we're part of the brotherhood and sisterhood. We work every day with cops. We did.
I worked with cops in one of the 10 largest countries in
And so we did what common sense dictated. And thanks to Joe Biden and others, we led. We fought against people who resisted. And it makes common sense: You put a cop on the street and on the street corner, and that cop's walking the beat and that cop gets to know the people who live in that neighborhood. Guess what? You notice if some terrorist has moved into an apartment and there's somebody there you don't recognize. You notice whether criminals are walking the streets who are on parole or out and whether you have to watch them or not.
And we learned that it's more important to have that kind of presence because you build relationships in the community, and by building relationships in the community, people come to trust those officers and they'll tell them things before a crime happens.
can stop crime with police officers on the streets of
saw record drops in violent crime all over
But then George Bush became president, and when his powerful and well-connected friends asked for a massive tax cut, he said, Sure. And he paid for it by gutting the COPS program, slashing gang prevention and cutting enforcement programs that keep drugs like meth off the streets.
enough, over the last four years,
Eight hundred more murders a year, gang-related deaths up 40 percent and violent deaths at schools are at a five-year high.
This is the phoniest, silliest argument I've ever heard in my life, and we deserve a president who stands up and fights.
I'm proud of the work that I did as a prosecutor. We put murderers and mob bosses behind bars. We created a new rape crisis unit because we saw that there was a need for women to be helped through the criminal justice system. We created a victim witness assistance program, so that people didn't feel victimized twice; once by the crime and then by the justice system itself. We stood up for victims' rights.
And as president, I pledge to you I will continue to fight crime and I will stand with police officers in doing whatever it takes to protect our communities and keep our families safe. Our plan...
Edwards' and my plan for a safe
We're also going to put 5,000 new prosecutors into our communities in order to help those police officers be able to fight crime and put criminals behind bars. We're going to take on gang violence with a zero-tolerance policy and a message to our young people that there is another path. And especially for our rural communities, we're going to help local law enforcement shut down the methamphetamine labs that are taking the lives of our children and we'll make it harder to buy drugs in the first place.
let me just tell you a quick story about that, talk about guns and law
enforcement. I was in
That's the story. That's why police officers in our country care about this.
the final peg of my plan is we're always going to keep the ban that keeps
dangerous, military-style assault weapons out of the hands of killers and
terrorists. And I'll tell you, if you really want to handle an assault weapon,
and this is something you just think is going to make your life, we've got a
place for you to go do it. It's called the
friends, George Bush made a choice today. And over these next days I will be
showing how these choices affect
In a secret deal, he chose his powerful friends in the gun lobby over police officers and families that he promised to protect. The president made the wrong choice for Americans, and the American people are going to pay the price for his choice.
failed the test of leadership by saying that he supports an assault weapons
ban, but then doing everything in his power to keep the Republicans from
sending it to him. That is not what we expect in leadership from the president
George Bush should stop hiding behind the Republicans in Congress. He should tell the American people the truth; that he had no intention of extending the assault weapons ban, that the gun lobbyists were absolutely correct when they publicly said, point- blank, that they had a real friend in the Oval Office.
I'm president, we will set
Well, that's all well and good, but then who's going to do it? In communities that have no money, communities that have lost their tax base because of the economic policies of the president; communities that had the promise of No Child Left Behind, only the money has been left behind; communities struggling to be able to put their lives together...
I intend to set America in a new direction where we keep faith with the American people, where what we say in public life we mean, and we do the things we say, because the only interests that I'm going to be looking out for are the interests of the American people and our children and our future.
Thank you, and God bless you all. Thank you.