Alexandria, VA

Thank you, President Johnson. PTAs help raise up the voices of families and educators – giving us a place where we can stand together on the common ground we share: our love for the children we teach and raise.
Your work helps kids access the education they need – the one that will set them forward on a path of success. Thank you – and all the PTA leaders here – for all you do.
Ava Olsen, from Townville, South Carolina, is 14.
But her friend, Jacob, will always be six.
Ava will try out different clothing trends and learn to drive. She’ll have crushes and graduate from high school.
But Jacob, now forever dressed in his favorite Batman costume, will always be six.
Ava is a survivor.
After years of debilitating PTSD, unable to leave her home for fear of reliving those moments on the playground when she ran for her life, she returned to school. But the heaviness of that small coffin will always weigh on her heart.
Because Jacob will always be six.
Daniel Barden of Newtown, Connecticut, will always be seven.
Kamaiyah Perdue of East Point, Georgia, will always be four.
Makiyah Wilson of Washington, D.C., will always be 10.
The number of children we’ve lost to gun violence is unfathomable. But those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
They don’t tell us of the loved ones who must live with a black hole of grief inside them, forever trapped in that gravity.
They don’t tell us of the classmates and coworkers who saw the blood, who heard the shots ring out, who wake each night in a sweat, dreaming of running and running.
Behind those the numbers are the students who know how to hide before they can spell. The parents whose hearts are paralyzed by panic at every school “shelter in place” alert. And the pain in places where gun violence is too common to make the nightly news.
As a teacher, I’ve imagined the scene in my own classroom more times that I can count. At the start of each semester, I explain to my students what they should do if the worst happens.
We all feel the ripple effects. We’ve all lost a piece of ourselves – our security, our hope, our trust in each other.
We can’t let this keep happening. President Biden knows that.
That’s why he’s taken more executive actions on gun violence than any president in history. It’s why he’s created the first ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention – and we have leaders from that office with us today.
Joe worked with Congress to pass the first major gun safety law in almost 30 years.
Now, we’re stopping more domestic abusers from buying guns. We strengthened background checks for young people. We made historic investments in mental health programs, community violence intervention, and school security, so we can stop shootings before they begin.
These changes will save lives. But they’re not enough.
We need to pass universal background checks. We need laws that make sure guns are stored safely – so children can’t just pick them up off a night stand or take them out of a drawer.
And we have to ban assault weapons nationally, now.
That’s why it’s so important that you are stepping forward. That you’re working with Everytown to carry your message even further.
Because we have the power to demand more for our kids and our educators. And the Biden-Harris Administration is proud to work beside you.
You are the voices that can change this conversation. You are the people who will hold our leaders accountable. You are the movement that will end these ripples of gun violence.
Remember that progress always seems impossible until it isn’t.
We need our legislators and leaders to hear us – here, in Washington, and back in your home states and cities and schools.
Inaction is complicity.
We can never bring back the lives that have been taken from us. But we can stand up. Demand change. Reshape this world to be safer, more peaceful, less full of hurt and heartbreak.
How can we accept a world where active shooter drills are part of growing up in America? Where our children hear loud noises and duck for cover?
Enough is enough – enough pain, enough death. Enough funerals. I don’t want to have to put my hand on another cross with an eight-year-old’s name.
We have to change this. 
We must protect our children from gun violence.
Thank you.


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