WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland’s Fifth District this morning:

“I was appalled and angered to learn of the shooting at Great Mills High School today.  St. Mary’s County is a peaceful, close-knit community, which I am proud to call home, and it is sickening that students were put at risk.  Every student in our country deserves to attend school without fear for his or her safety.  Every parent should be able to send a child to school without the anxiety that their worst fear might come true.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the injured and with the students, parents, teachers, and Principal Jake Heibel.  I am grateful for the outstanding St. Mary’s County first responders, including the officer on the scene when the shooting occurred, who answered the call this morning with swiftness, professionalism, and courage.  I’ve had the opportunity to get to know St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron and many of his officers well over the years, along with students and faculty at Great Mills, and I know the strength and resilience of the community.  In the trying days and weeks ahead, we will come together to provide comfort, to assist, and to help the community heal.

“Every time something like this occurs, we pray it will be the last.  But that is unlikely to be the case until Congress takes meaningful action.  When I met with students from Maryland last week who participated in the National School Walkout, I heard in their voices a yearning for action and positive change.  They deserve an America where, in the words of one of those students, the ‘right to own an assault rifle does not outweigh our right to live.’

“Today, I will be with the students, teachers, parents, and first responders in Great Mills.  When I return to Washington, I will continue doing everything in my power to pressure Congress to remove this danger that now sows fear in every community in our country.  Thoughts and prayers and moments of silence are not enough. The halls of Congress are a place for action, a place where silence must no longer prevail.”