Dear Mr. Griffiths:
Thank you for contacting me about renewed interests in gun control following the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
I, like many Americans, was saddened by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman who ultimately took his own life. As a father of two teachers, my thoughts and prayers go out to all who were affected by this unspeakable tragedy. Although the investigation is still ongoing, initial reports suggest that the gunman was deeply disturbed and intent on leaving a wake of destruction.
As a physician, I believe that mental illness, which afflicts an estimated one in ten children and adolescents in the United States to the point of causing some impairment, is a serious health problem that cannot be ignored. The federal government has programs specifically designed to assist local schools to promoting mental health development in children and adolescents.
Immediately following these events in Connecticut, I reached out to most of the superintendents of the area independent school districts to ensure proper safety measures are in place to protect our children in school to the extent possible. You may be interested to know, that one program that are available to schools are the School Resource Officers (SRO). SROs are individuals that directly improve the safety for students, teachers, and administrators in primary and secondary schools throughout our district. You may also be interested to know that over the past two decades, the 26th District of Texas has received over $40 million from the federal COPS grant program to assist local law enforcement agencies. COPS grant have funded 378 additional police officers and sheriff's deputies to engage in community policing activities, including crime prevention, in the 26th District. Within the COPS program, an additional $2 million has been provided to the SRO program
An example of how the SRO program is specifically benefiting the 26th District is in Denton School District, the SRO program is a mutually beneficial partnership between the Denton Police Department and the Denton Independent School District. SROs perform a variety of law enforcement functions at Denton ISD schools. However, the primary purpose of school resource officers is to reduce and prevent crime by and against students, committed primarily in or in connection with area schools.
There is no denying that this event is indeed tragic; however, this event has not changed my position on the issue of gun control. I am strongly opposed to any limitations on the United States Constitution's Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners. While no one condones the purchase and use of guns by felons or other high-risk individuals to perpetrate any crime, we must not improperly hamper the right of law-abiding citizens to bear or purchase arms. If we are to honor and uphold our nation's Constitution, this right cannot be infringed.
The key to curbing the unlawful use of firearms is the stricter enforcement of existing laws. There are about 20,000 firearms laws already on the books in this country. To prevent crime, we must fully enforce those laws already on the books. I am disappointed to see the proposals currently being discussed by Members of Congress are merely an attempt to make people feel more secure without providing any real security. Someone who is truly intent on using a gun to commit a crime will find a way to obtain one regardless of what laws are imposed. We cannot erode our constitutional rights in the name of crime prevention, and I will oppose any legislation that seeks to do so.
Please be assured that I will continue to pay very close attention to the continuing debate on gun ownership rights and the mental health issues. As these developments continue, you may be assured that I will keep your views in mind should legislation relating to gun rights and mental health be considered by the full House.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website (www.house.gov/burgess
) or contact me with any future concerns.
Michael C. Burgess, M.D.
Member of Congress
Dear Mr. Griffiths:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the horrific events in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on this tragedy.
My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families as well as with all the citizens of Newtown who were affected by this tragedy. On December 17, 2012, I joined my Senate colleagues in cosponsoring Senate Resolution 621 to honor the victims and heroes of the shooting.
It is a tragedy for the entire nation whenever a life is taken in an act of violence. I share your concern for the safety of our children in their schools, and you may be certain that I will keep your views in mind as policy changes are considered in the coming weeks. Now, we join with the families as they grieve the tragic loss of twenty children and their teachers, and we join together as a nation to honor their memories.
I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate. Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
United States Senator