Children in America have the right to learn and grow in freedom without the fear of sudden, evil, acts of violence erupting in their schools. Sadly, in our nation, this is no longer possible. Month after month and year after year, communities across our nation, like Parkland Florida, are devastated by horrendous acts of violence. The students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—in the wake of losing classmates, mentors, friends, and family—are demanding that elected officials step up and protect them. I am compelled to answer that call. I stand with these students who are fighting for the soul of America.
Gun legislation has become a polarizing issue that elected officials try to avoid, especially when they represent a politically diverse constituency. This can no longer be the case. We must do more to protect the rights and lives of our children. Guns over innocent children must stop!
Gun lobbying organizations like the NRA have poured money into political campaigns, so that elected officials are more beholden to this special interest group than to the children they are called to serve and protect. Starting with the Dickey Amendment in 1996, a series of NRA sponsored spending bill amendments have been passed by Congress that have effectively ended federal funding to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes for Health (NIH) which was previously used to research root causes for gun violence and mass shootings.
As your representative in Congress, I will fight back against gun lobbyists who are more interested in greed than in the safety of our children. I will fight for necessary funding for the CDC and the NIH, so we can take the necessary action to end the plague of gun violence in our nation. But, this commitment is not enough! We must do more to protect our children!
When I was growing up, my father, a pastor, had two hobbies—hunting and fishing, both of which he shared with his three boys. In turn, when my son was of appropriate age and maturity, I taught him how to hunt responsibly. I believe in the Second Amendment and have been a hunter most of my life. I do not believe, however, that the Second Amendment precludes reasonable protections in the form of new laws regarding the purchase or ownership of weapons capable of causing mass casualties.
Reducing gun violence is a complex problem requiring consideration of multiple partial solutions, from more effective screening of gun and ammunition purchasers (universal background checks; prohibiting sales to known terrorists, stalkers, the mentally ill, or those convicted of domestic violence related crimes, for example) to limits on magazine capacities; prohibitions on modifications to guns of any type which increase the speed or rate of fire (no bump fire stocks; trigger cranks; etc.) and funding school resource officers (armed, sworn, peace officers) for schools not currently using them as part of their school safety and security plan.
We are long past the time for empty rhetoric. Sadly, adult leaders have abdicated their responsibility regarding this issue. Our youth have courageously stepped to the forefront to end gun violence in America. We need to hear their cries, act now, and take back this infernal night!