Join Date: July 28, 2010
I got more of a response than I had expected.
I emailed all of my congressfolk about a week or 10 days after the Sandy Hook shooting. Initially, all I got was a couple of boilerplate "thank you for contacting my office . . . your opinion is important . . . blah, blah, blah." I had resigned myself to the notion that I wasn't going to get anything more in-depth than that. I was wrong. I got this today:
Dear [Spats McGee]:
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns regarding gun control in America. It is very important for me to know your views, and I appreciate you taking the time to share them.
Words cannot express the sorrow felt by myself and millions of Americans and individuals all around the world over the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The murder of these innocent schoolchildren, their teachers, and administrators by a deranged killer is sickening and saddening. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of these victims and the entire Newtown, Connecticut community as they recover from this horrific act of violence.
First, I remain dedicated to working to prevent similar attacks from occurring in the future while also ensuring the protection of our Second Amendment rights. In the wake of this tragedy, individuals have called for increased restrictions on firearms, and it's important to assess all of the facts available - including that, currently, most hunting weapons and almost all pistols used for self-protection are semi-automatic. The idea offered by many that semi-automatic weapons are out of the maintream and should be banned is inaccurate. Regarding legislating to prevent tragedies like that which occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the state of Connecticut has in place exactly the kinds of laws that gun control advocates claim will prevent tragedies like Newtown, yet those laws were ineffective at preventing this horrific attack. It is important to note that the shooter in this incident, Adam Lanza, effectively stole the weapons he used in the attack. He did not purchase them, and they did not belong to him. In fact, according to media reports, when he tried to purchase a rifle just days before the attack, he was told there would be a waiting period. Moreover, Connecticut law requires gun owners to be at least 21, and Adam was only 20. Obviously the murderer, Adam Lanza, had no intention of following any laws, and I am not aware of any legislative proposal that would have changed that.
Some have argued that we should bring back the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which was in force from 1994 to 2004. However, this ban was ineffective in preventing the Columbine High School shooting from happening in 1999. In a 1999 report by the National Institute of Justice, Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban: 1994-96, criminologists Jeffrey Roth and Christopher Koper examined the effects of the federal assault weapons ban in its first two years of operation and found no statistically significant reduction in murder rates. According to the report: "The ban did not produce declines in the average number of victims per incident of gun murder or gun murder victims with multiple wounds." The study also concluded that "any assault-weapons ban that does not ban firearms that are equally lethal (such as those many Americans already own) is ineffective."
Further, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a strong advocate for strict gun control policies, highlights the strong gun laws of Connecticut. According to the Campaign's website: "Connecticut has strong gun laws that help combat the illegal gun market, prevent the sale of most guns without background checks and reduce risks to children." In the campaign's 2009 state scorecards released for all 50 states, Connecticut earned 53 points out of a total of 100 and had the nation's fourth strongest gun laws. According to reports, the rifle used in the Newtown shooting was a .223-caliber Bushmaster M4 carbine. This firearm was legal under Connecticut's current assault weapon ban.
I understand your concerns regarding this tragic attack and similar attacks that have occurred in the United States. I know that we as a nation must have a serious conversation and find effective solutions and laws on the federal, state, and local level to prevent these attacks in the future. I believe one effective way to address this issue is to take a closer look at the mental health care laws and services in the United States as well as our crude and violence-laced culture.
As a member of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, I am working to build awareness and to educate my colleagues about the importance of mental health to promote developments in research, treatments, programs, and services. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make insurance more accessible and affordable for those with mental illnesses. One way to do this is to ensure that all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, receive access to mental health services and treatment. I believe that we have long overdue work to do in health care for mental health.
In times of national tragedy, it is understandable that people would demand action to respond to tragedies and to prevent these tragedies in the future. I am committed to working with my colleagues to enact effective solutions without infringing on Americans' Constitutional rights.
Again, thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to represent Arkansas's Second Congressional District, and your input allows me to do my best in representing the District. Please do not hesitate to contact me at my Little Rock office at (501) 324-5941, and my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 225-2506. You can visit me online and choose to receive my e-newsletters at Griffin.House.gov. I'm also online at Facebook.com/RepTimGriffin, Twitter.com/RepTimGriffin, and YouTube.com/RepTimGriffin.
Member of Congress
It may not be a perfect response, but at least I feel like my Rep is taking the time to seriously look at the issues!
I'm a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer. If you need some honest-to-goodness legal advice, go buy some.