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Old January 25, 2013, 12:43 PM   #1
MLeake
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Join Date: November 15, 2007
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Response from Senator Claire McCaskill, and my counter response

I am not sure if this reply was to my direct email to the Senator's office, or to my linked signature from Ruger website petition, but here is what she had to say:

Quote:
January 24, 2013
Dear Mr Leake,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, as well as gun control policy and gun safety. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.

On Friday, December 14, 2012, a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and began shooting teachers and students before taking his own life. This horrific tragedy took the lives of 27 people, including 20 children seven years of age and younger. As a mother, I'm horrified and stunned by the senseless violence against innocent children and teachers.

This tragedy has led to renewed and important discussions about gun control, which is often a divisive topic in our nation. The loss of so many beautiful children in a mass shooting that involved an assault rifle with ammunition clips that held large numbers of bullets makes clear that we need to revisit the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and review permissible magazine ammunition sizes. I am also supportive of closing the gun show loophole and making sure that those with court-determined, dangerous mental health diagnoses do not get access to guns. Finally, it is equally clear that we must reconsider the mental health services available to our citizens, knowing that each mass shooting our nation has experienced involved individuals with substantial mental health problems. "Obamacare" will expand important mental health coverage when it is implemented in 2014. Protecting our children and our citizens will require us to come together to find real solutions that cover a broad range of factors that have contributed to these horrific incidents.

I firmly believe that an attempt to promote appropriate gun safety measures can be done without infringing upon law-abiding citizens' right to own firearms or unduly burdening the hunting and sportsmanship culture of Missouri. I believe the horror of the Newtown shootings makes clear that we must get to work protecting our communities and our children from mass slaughter, while also protecting our Second Amendment rights. I am hopeful that the National Rifle Association, a significant voice in this discussion, will be a constructive part of this dialogue.

Even as I welcome this renewed debate, please know that I will continue to protect the Second Amendment Rights of law-abiding citizens to safely own and use appropriate firearms. In the past, I have voted to permit residents of the District of Columbia to own and purchase firearms. I also supported an amendment to a spending bill that would prevent funding for any international organization, including the United Nations, that places a tax on any firearm owned by a United States citizen. I have opposed other inappropriate measures, such as forcing Missouri to accept other states' firearms laws.

As your United States Senator, I will keep your thoughts in mind anytime Congress considers gun-related legislation. In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, my prayers are with the students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary, and with their families. All Americans are outraged at senseless and criminal gun violence no matter where they may fall in the debate on guns in American society. A renewed national conversation has begun and we must all be a constructive and open-minded part of it. There is middle ground here, where this nation can come together with sensible laws that prevent the mass murder of innocent citizens, while we continue to respect our Constitution and its Second Amendment rights.

Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely,



Claire McCaskill
United States Senator

P.S. If you would like more information about resources that can help Missourians, or what I am doing in the Senate on your behalf, please sign up for my email newsletter at http://mccaskill.senate.gov.
This actually seemed like something more focused than the boilerplate one often gets from one's officials, so I will give credit to the Senator and her staff for that.

Here is my response. Sorry, it's kind of long, but...

Quote:
Senator McCaskill,

Thank your for your reply. I do have some issues with your positions. I will address those in the order which you used in your reply:

First, unless you propose to limit the number of magazines a citizen may own, limiting the number of rounds in a magazine does not do much to protect against a determined, reasonably skilled shooter. Vice President Biden's nonsensical comments in his google forum notwithstanding, it does not take about a minute to reload. It takes about three seconds for a reasonably skilled shooter to dump one magazine, and load the next. Furthermore, given the millions of 20 and 30 round magazines in circulation, the only people you would affect by such legislation would be those who would voluntarily follow your restrictions - and those are not the people who should cause you concern.

Second, there is no such thing as a "gun show loophole." Some states allow private sales to be conducted without going through an FFL. This was the norm, nationwide, until 1968. It is how Missouri, the state you represent, operates. A private sale at a gun show is a private sale. If an FFL conducts a sale at a gun show, he is still bound by FFL rules, and must have the buyer fill out a form 4473 and pass an NICS check. There is no loophole; this is just a meme that gun control advocates and the media have pushed for years, and that many members of the public who have attention spans no longer than a sound bite have blindly accepted. Universal Background Checks, by any other name, are merely a means for the federal government to further encroach on the purview of state and local governments, and are a goal for those gun control advocates who ultimately want a national firearm registry, and subsequent confiscation attempts.

Supporting that statement, here is a quote from Senator Feinstein, on CBS' 60 Minutes in 1995 :

"If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them -- Mr. and Mrs. America turn 'em all in -- I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren't here."

So, you can see where we Second Amendment supporters might be suspicious of ulterior motives. As far as the Sandy Hook incident, I believe it was Rahm Emmanuel who said, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." (It is also Rahm Emmanuel who is trying to pressure banks into canceling loans and lines of credit with firearms manufacturers.)

Third, I am supportive of both better mental health care, and of better reporting standards. I am not in favor of granting any law enforcement or regulatory agency extrajudicial powers for determining who meets or fails some mental standard. Laws are in place; the courts are in place; the system needs to actually use them.

Now, you did not address this point, but Larry Correia did in a very good article about the subject of spree shooters: Aside from the incident where Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot, and several people died, all other "spree shooting" incidents in the last 50 years occurred in either Federal Gun Free Zones, or in private property that was posted "No Guns." Those people who want to live or day in notoriety seem to choose places where they are likely to be able to kill a lot of people before anybody can do anything effective to stop them. Effective stopping techniques typically do not involve the throwing of iPads, erasers, or chairs - those are stop-gap improvisations that are all that most students and teachers have at their disposal. The federal government, in my opinion, has done nothing but create killing zones for psychopaths in creating so-called Gun Free zones.

You also did not address the failure of the federal and state legal systems to effectively use existing laws to keep violent recidivists off the street. In Atlanta, just a few weeks back, a police officer was shot to death by a felon who was on his second parole, and second early release, from incarcerations for - wait for it - possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

In theory, under federal and Georgia law, that felon should have been in prison for ten years to life, not for six months.

Unfortunately, the majority of people in prison these days are there for possession of narcotics. Maybe you should look at legislation to get rid of mandatory sentencing for drug users, and free up space for violent repeat offenders? Maybe you could look at getting your colleagues to examine why enforcement of penalties against both violent repeat offenders and against straw purchasers (those who break the law by knowingly buying guns for prohibited persons) is spotty at best?

All the laws that have been proposed by the President, the Vice President, Reid, McCarthy, Schumer, Cuomo, et all will do is create problems for law abiding citizens. In Cuomo's case, his law - if unchecked by the courts - is likely to create thousands of felons a year after it goes into effect.

The last thought I would leave you with, as one pilot to another, is that many in federal (and some state) government are screaming that "We have to do something!" I would put it to you that if an engine fails, and the puts the wrong lever into fuel cutoff, or worse yet pushes the wrong rudder, that is much worse than if the pilot sits back for a few moments to actually analyze his situation.

Sometimes an immediate action can only make things worse.

Regards,
I am curious to see what response this may get.


Edit: Aaaargh.... proofread, proofread, proofread.... I meant "live or die," not "live or day." For those of you who write your reps, please proofread better than I did. Similarly, it should have been "and the pilot pushes" in the paragraph about engine failure.

I must have bumped a hotkey that deleted as I was typing....

Second Edit: I would have caught this in a printed form. Snail mail does have some advantages over email....

Last edited by MLeake; January 25, 2013 at 12:48 PM.
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Old January 25, 2013, 12:48 PM   #2
Glenn E. Meyer
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Great letter - truly but (sigh):

1. She won't see it. The intern will clock it as gun nut in the tallies.

2. Her response is the typical - hunter, appropriate gun dodge to fool the naive into thinking they are not after almost all guns.

3. Yes, you can keep your shotgun (thanks - Hairplug Joe) - a double barrel is all you need. Plus you can shoot cute birdies out of the sky!

The only thing that counts is campaign donations and the ballot.

She has her marching orders and she is just following orders. The response was written by college intern central in DC.
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Old January 25, 2013, 12:50 PM   #3
MLeake
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Well, looks like I got a Mulligan. Just received an auto-response saying, "This email is not monitored, please use the contact website at...."

SO I can edit my errors, and resubmit to the monitored area.
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Old January 25, 2013, 12:56 PM   #4
MLeake
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Glenn,

I suspect you are correct.

I am getting ready to head back to the sandbox, or I would call her office and try to actually speak directly with her. I don't know that it would do much good, but I'd give it a shot if I had more time.

Other Missourians might call her, though.

Per the auto-response, her office number is 202-224-6154, during regular business hours.
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Old January 25, 2013, 01:23 PM   #5
Hal
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Dear Mr. XXXXX:



Thank you for expressing your concerns over gun control and access to mental health care.



When our children and families are no longer safe at our schools, in our malls, and in our movie theaters, we as a country must take action. The shocking numbers of public shootings throughout the country last year, culminating in Newtown, Connecticut, demand that we engage in a serious national discussion.



Many people have expressed concerns about holes in our mental health care system that contributes to violence. Though people with mental illness are not at an increased risk of behaving violently in general, there is a subset of individuals with mental illness who are at risk of violent behavior of the kinds we have seen in public gathering places.



Over the last few years, Congress has passed laws to improve the mental health system so individuals in need of psychiatric evaluation, treatment, and support do not fall through the cracks. Several components of these laws have yet to be fully implemented.



In a bipartisan effort to ensure that mental and behavioral health services are covered by insurance in a manner equivalent to medical and surgical services. Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act in 2008 This law prohibits insurance companies from arbitrarily limiting the number of hospital days or outpatient treatment sessions a patient is granted, as well as prohibiting higher copayments or deductibles for subscribers who seek psychological services. Such practices by insurance companies were both wrong and counterproductive. This legislation will help the 54 million Americans with mental illness gain access to appropriate and affordable treatment. My Senate colleagues and I have been working with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure this law is fully implemented. Additionally, I and several of my colleagues sent a letter to President Obama asking him and HHS to fully implement the law.



The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is also working to improve access to mental and behavioral health services. Individuals in Ohio who have been denied insurance coverage due to a pre-existing mental health condition can now access the new Ohio High-Risk Insurance pool. For more information on the high risk pool or to sign-up for coverage, please visit http://www.insurance.ohio.gov/Docume...skPoolFAQs.pdf



The ACA immediately eliminated pre-existing coverage exclusions for children. Kids will no longer be denied coverage — or have services excluded from coverage — as a result of pre-existing conditions. Additionally, parents of young adults can now maintain coverage for their children until age 26. Serious mental illness is often first noticed in the late teens or early twenties, when the brain is changing rapidly and when pressures to perform are great. It is crucial that young adults with existing or emerging mental illnesses not experience lapses in coverage at this time of high risk.



Beginning in 2014, insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to individuals with mental illness and insurers cannot use mental illness as a reason to raise premiums. HHS also established an essential benefits package — a set of health care service categories that must be covered by most plans — that will take effect in 2014. Mental health and substance abuse disorder services will be part of this package.



The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act and the ACA represent tremendous strides forward for mental health coverage and access. However, we must also re-examine our mental health safety net, which has faced unrelenting budget cuts, reducing access for some our most vulnerable citizens.



Finally, we must work to reduce the stigma attached to mental health treatment, and find ways to support families who are concerned about the mental health status of their loved ones. It is essential that families know about the mental health resources available to them, and that they understand they have allies and other resources to which they can turn. Education about signs of mental illness, how to obtain a mental health screening, and how to access treatment services are simple but key ingredients to a successful national plan for managing mental health crises. Should any legislation concerning gun control and access to mental and behavioral health care come before the Senate, I will keep your thoughts in mind.



Thank you also for sharing your thoughts on background checks for firearms owners.



I continue to receive numerous constituent letters voicing opinions on this issue. Gun shows have become a way for criminals and gun traffickers to purchase weapons without a background check and without a record of purchase. Gun sellers at these shows are not always registered the same way as owners of gun shops. This enables people to sell guns to criminals or the mentally unstable without any record being created for law enforcement. The International Association of Chiefs of Police supports improving and expanding the background check process to ensure that registration and background check is conducted for every gun sale.



Gun control is a complex issue and we must work together to uphold our Constitution while at the same time ensuring that our communities are safe. We can and must act to ensure tragedies like this never happen again.



Should any legislation come before the Senate for a vote, I will keep your views in mind. Thank you again for getting in touch with me.



Sincerely,



Sherrod Brown

United States Senator



I'm 50/50 on the response.
Brown is so far left he's past Marx.

FWIW - the International Chiefs of Police he mentions are the same miserable bastards that fought CCW in Ohio tooth and nail.
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Old January 25, 2013, 01:26 PM   #6
MLeake
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I do find it interesting that patrol officers and detectives seem to have very different opinions on the subject than do the chief's associations.

I know a lot of cops. Most of them are not in favor of gun control, but in harsher judicial treatment of repeat violent offenders.

The exceptions to this would be cops I have met who are from certain larger cities, where guns are viewed differently after a few decades of brainwashing.
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Old January 25, 2013, 01:34 PM   #7
Hal
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Most of the cops I know are stand up people.

The Chiefs OTOH .....

On the "good news front"...
I got this from the Governor.

"
Dear XXXXX:



Like all Americans, I was horrified as the tragedies of Friday, December 14th unfolded in Newtown, Connecticut. The deplorable act of violence that took the lives of innocent children and adults is beyond reason, and I pray that, in time, the families of the victims and the people of that community are able to find peace.



As you no doubt recall, we were all reminded of the evil that exists in our world when six students were shot, three fatally, at Chardon High School in Geauga County on February 27th, 2012. In the aftermath, the heroic stories of the first responders, teachers and staff who acted swiftly and selflessly to protect others showed true courage.


Since that tragic event, and in the wake of the recent tragedy in Newtown, the absolute necessity for school officials, parents, students and first responders to be trained and practiced in responding to these unthinkable crimes is of utmost importance. Various state and local agencies, including the Ohio Office of Homeland Security and the Ohio Department of Education, have worked collaboratively to implement, review and drill response plans. Moreover, these occasions of violence and heartache should give us all pause to think about how we treat each other, and the value we as a society place upon every life.



With regard to calls for legislation in response to these events, it is my belief that we will be best served by enforcing those laws that currently exist. And, in the weeks and months that follow, we should learn as much as possible about how this happened, and what steps we can take, including mental health awareness and school safety protocols, to guard against the senseless loss of innocent life ever again.



I appreciate your taking the time to write. Please join me and my family in continuing to keep the communities of Chardon and Newtown, and all innocent victims of violence, in our prayers.
Thank you"


Too bad he's not the one in the Senate....

Last edited by Hal; January 25, 2013 at 01:41 PM.
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Old January 25, 2013, 02:00 PM   #8
horatioo
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I call Mccaskill's office about twice a week and give my views. She was just voted back in for another six years. She probably feels relatively safe about this being old news in six years.
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