Washington, D.C. – Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) delivered the following remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives to commemorate Gun Violence Survivors Week. She shared the story of survivor Mary Miller-Strobel and her brother, combat veteran Ben Miller, who tragically died from gun violence.

I rise in honor of Gun Violence Survivors Week.

This week, just a month into the new year, there will have been more gun deaths in the United States than our peer countries will experience in an entire year. One month.

I met earlier this week with Mary Miller-Strobel, whose brother Ben was a combat veteran suffering from depression and PTSD.

Ben had lost 30 pounds after his tour. Returning home, his father asked him about the weight loss. Ben replied that he couldn’t eat. He said, “it’s just so hard out there, Dad - It smells like death.”

Ben was seeking treatment at the local VA, but his family worried. They worried that in a moment of desperation, Ben might end his own life.

Mary and her father drove to every gun store in the area. They showed these stores photos of Ben, pleading with them not to sell him a gun.

Ben Miller died by suicide.  He used a gun he bought at a local gun store.

Too often we are told that we must accept these tragedies.

We are told that instead of changing our laws, we must have more active shooter drills.

More first graders coming home with tears in their eyes.  Six-year-olds asked to decide for themselves whether they are more likely to survive by hiding in a closet, or if they should rush the gunman.

More mothers reading messages from their children locked inside a school that plead “Mom, if I don’t make it, I love you, and I appreciate everything you have done for me.”

More vigils for those we have lost.

Too often we are told that we must accept these tragedies.

I refuse to accept that.

Millions of people across America refuse to accept that.

This Congress refuses to accept that.

We refuse to accept that because we have passed bipartisan legislation that will help save lives.

Legislation like the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, a commonsense bill that will help keep guns away from those who shouldn’t have one. 

We’ve passed H.R. 1112, the Enhanced Background Checks Act, which would close the Charleston Loophole.

We’ve passed a bill that gives the CDC and NIH $25 million dollars to study gun violence, the first of its kind in over 20 years.

I even introduced a bill that would give loved ones and law enforcement more tools to keep guns away from those who are a danger to themselves or others. 

Tools that may have helped Mary save her brother Ben’s life.

The injustice. I know that sense of injustice.

When my son Jordan was killed, I found myself asking how God could allow this to happen to me, to my family, to my Jordan?

And after Parkland, I knew something had to be done.

I knew that I needed to stand up for families like mine in Marietta, Georgia, who are terrified that they will send their kids to school and never see them come home.

Terrified that they will one day be me.

I made a promise to my community that I would act.  

I promised that I would take all that love, that sense of protection a mother has for her son and use it to serve the American people.

I promised I would always be a mother on a mission to save the lives of children from across America. Children like my son.

During this Gun Violence Survivors Week, I pray we all remember that this is in our hands.

Families like Mary’s. Children graduating high school. Communities in Charleston, in Columbine, in Parkland, in Sandy Hook, in Dayton, in El Paso, in Las Vegas. In the hundreds of places where shootings don’t make the news.

Their lives are in our hands.

Thank you to my colleagues, survivors, volunteers here and advocates across our country for your tireless work to protect our families.

May God bless us all in our fight to save American lives.