By Elizabeth Harrington
(CNSNews.com) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said action must be taken in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School because members of Congress took an oath to “protect and defend,” although the actual oath says to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States ….”
Pelosi held a House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee hearing on "Gun Violence Prevention: A Call to Action,” where she endorsed the gun control proposals President Barack Obama unveiled today.
“Earlier this month, shortly after Newtown, all members of Congress took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution and the American people,” Pelosi said. “To protect and defend. That is our first responsibility.”
“Today, members of the House Democratic Caucus have come together to fulfill that duty to confront the challenge of gun violence in our society and act to ensure the safety and security of our communities,” she said.
President Obama and Democrats have called for stricter gun control legislation in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting, in addition to the 23 executive orders signed by Obama today. Gun rights groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), have pushed back against new gun laws, saying they will infringe on the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd amendment to the Constitution.
The oath taken by members of Congress as they are sworn in does not include the phrase “protect and defend,” nor does it include anything about protecting the American people, though it does include a vow to defend the Constitution.
According to the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House administers the following oath to members:
“I, (name of Member), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”
The presidential oath of office, however, states, "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
During the hearing, Pelosi praised the 23 executive orders issued by Obama and endorsed his call to reinstate the 1994 “assault weapons” ban, implement a universal background check system and institute a ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
The Democrat hearing included testimony from Janet Robinson, the superintendent of schools of Newtown, Conn., where gunman Adam Lanza murdered 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14.
Other witnesses included Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter; Scott Knight, chief of police of Chaska, Minnesota; and Emily Nottingham, the mother of Gabe Zimmerman, a staff member to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was killed during the Tucson, Arizona shooting.
“We look forward to hearing their ideas and testimony and answering the call to action on gun violence prevention,” Pelosi said. “We are especially pleased to be doing so on the day when our president—as we continue to mourn for the families of Newtown—has told us that the time for action is now.”
“We must do everything in our power to stop this terrifying violence in the future,” she said. “We recognize that these challenges are not new, and as President Obama said so eloquently in the days following the shooting, we can’t tolerate this anymore.”
“These tragedies must end and to end them we must change, he said, and today the president put his proposals on the table,” Pelosi said. “He outlined 23 executive actions the administration is taking right now, he demanded action from Congress on establishing a universal background check system, restoring the ban on assault weapons, banning high capacity assault magazines, putting more police officers on our streets. We must address issues of mental health, keeping weapons out of the hands of those in danger of doing harm to themselves or to others.”
“These common-sense proposals, among others, represents steps we can take and must take right away to put a stop to the violence,” she said. “As the president said today, this time must be different.
“We agree,” she said.
While an autopsy was performed on the Sandy Hook killer, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who committed suicide at the scene, toxicology reports for him have not been completed. The toxicology tests could show whether there were psychiatric medications or illegal drugs in Lanza’s system.