Thank you for contacting me to share your thoughts on the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut and your views on gun control.
On December 14, 2012, 20 innocent children and six adults lost their lives in one of the worst, most tragic shootings to ever occur in the United States. As a parent of three daughters, this was the ultimate nightmare. Like the Virginia Tech and Columbine shootings, this tragedy unfolded in what was once regarded as a safe haven free of crime and violence: a school.
I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms. I own firearms and I have an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association. However, I also recognize that, like with many of our constitutional rights, our Second Amendment rights are not without limits. It is unfortunate that a tragedy of this magnitude is what is needed to prompt action, but we need to have a serious discussion on how to best avoid these kinds of mass shootings in the future. The status quo is not acceptable.
I believe our discussion should cover many issues. We can start by taking action on issues that enjoy widespread support, such as broadening background checks for gun purchases, ensuring all appropriate records are submitted into the background check database, and making improvements to our mental health system so we can provide help to those with dangerous mental illnesses before it is too late. In addition, I have received many comments from across the Commonwealth regarding the White House task force's recommendations to curb gun violence. I am actively reviewing these recommendations and will carefully consider related legislation as it is developed and introduced in the Senate. As I formulate my position, I urge you to continue to express your views.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For further information or to sign up for my newsletter please visit my website at http://warner.senate.gov
MARK R. WARNER
United States Senator
As 2012 came to a close, America suffered some of her deepest grief. Hours after the news of the Sandy Hook shooting, I penned my first reaction to the news, linked here if you have not yet read it. Now, in the weeks and months that follow, Americans continue to have heavy hearts many questions.
Following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, concerns have been raised regarding limitations being placed on the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, including new legislation and federal regulations that seek to restrict legal access to certain weapons. In this debate, lawmakers will examine how we pursue the shared goal of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, while preserving the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Additionally, the President’s White House commission, led by Vice President Biden, made their recommendations to the President after reviewing current gun control laws. On Wednesday, January 16, President Obama took 23 executive actions with the stated purpose to curb gun violence in the United States, and called on Congress to take action legislatively to pass his additional proposals. His proposal focused on restrictions on certain firearms, background checks, increased safety in schools, and addressing mental health. Many of the initiatives discussed cannot be initiated without legislative action by Congress.
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, or infringe upon rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
Finally, as a nation, we must work to improve our plans and priorities to keep our children safe at school, and determine whether we have the appropriate processes and resources in place to handle serious mental health issues. In my online survey following the tragedy at Sandy Hook, most (4820 out of 6557) responded that the shooting demonstrates the need to improve mental health screening and support.
Addressing these issues will be a comprehensive process and I believe it should be one marked by open dialogue, sincere listening, and the absence of political posturing. I believe America will be stronger if we work together - despite our differences - to pursue policies to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. As we move from a state of grieving into a stage of introspection and examination, I look forward to your continued voice in this discussion.
J. RANDY FORBES
Member of Congress