Demand A Plan
Today I e-mailed and snail-mailed the following letter, personalized, to my elected officials, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congressman Gibson, and President Obama. I also wrote separately to NY Assemblyman Cahill. (Our NY Senate race is tied up in the courts, with uncounted absentee ballots in danger of being thrown out. I desperately hope that Cecilia Tkaczyk prevails.) I encourage my friends to share their own thoughts and suggestions with their elected officials. While we can have sensible and informed discussion amongst ourselves, it is the politicians that we charge with the running of country and State, and the laws that bind us. Peace.
I write as a constituent and a naturalized American citizen who can not stand by idly while my fellow countrymen kill each other with guns at a rate that embarrasses us in the eyes of each other and shames the USA in the eyes of the rest of the world. The deplorable, abominable massacre at Newtown demands that we address the issue of gun violence as a society, and take every step possible to reduce it and ideally to eliminate it entirely. This task lies with all of us as responsible citizens, but it especially lies with you as an elected member of Congress. I fully expect the Senate to rise to this challenge and make meaningful, lasting and, if you will excuse the necessary use of language, bullet-proof legislation that will ensure the safety of my own children and all other citizens at home, at school, on the streets, in a place of worship, on public transportation and elsewhere.
While the causes for mass shootings are debated, there is one fact that can not be readily argued with, even by the most ardent of gun proponents, which is that More guns = more gun violence = more deaths. I would refer you to this study of the increase in mass shootings in America
and to this study on international gun ownership and gun deaths:
While no one Act of Congress can eliminate gun violence, there are many steps you can take that would surely help. I would like to see the House follow up on:
1) Banning of weapons that serve no earthly purpose other than to inflict maximum mayhem.
2) Mandatory criminal/mental health checks and waiting periods on all gun purchases, everywhere.
3) ‘Ultimate liability’ on all gun owners. If a gun registered in your name is used to commit a crime, you are the one prosecuted for it.
4) More effective mental health services – though I would caution against the excuse that mass shootings are only ever committed by the mentally ill, and not to ignore the everyday murders across our country that are committed by those who are otherwise considered quite sane.
5) Our pervasive culture of violence, perpetuated from Hollywood on down. While I don’t believe that a single movie, television show, piece of music, or video game per se encourages our children to commit violence, I believe it inures us a society and that we pay the price every day when we shrug our shoulders at yet another casual murder or mass shooting as somehow merely life reflecting entertainment.
6) Our glorification of war, often as a matter of first rather than last resort. While I fully support our servicemen and recognize the sacrifice they make to protect this great country, we must be careful not to rush them into harm’s way. We must also ensure that they can be successfully integrated back into a peaceful society upon the completion of their tour(s) of duty.
I would like to add that I am myself an elected official. I serve on the Board of Education in the Onteora Central School District. I do so with great pride. I fear, however, for the safety of our children, across all schools in the country, however many security measures we put in place, however many emergency drills we perform. At the same time I find it deplorable that some believe that the way to protect our school children is to arm the teachers and principals and/or put armed guards on the front doors. Our schools are meant to be safe havens, not armed prisons. I do trust you favor a better solution for our children.
Please write back and tell me where you stand on these issues.
Kindly and with thanks in advance,