Today is six months since the Newtown massacre. And in these six months, more than 4,300 persons have died from gun violence in America.
And what has Congress done? Nothing.
This week, marking the six-month anniversary, families of the Newtown shooting victims were once again in Washington to advocate for gun legislation.
And the Newtown Action Alliance, representing 10.5 million supporters, organized a major lobby effort that included meetings with legislators and a press conference with the Democratic leadership, the Connecticut delegation, Mike Thompson (co-sponsor of HR 1565 the Thompson-King Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2013) as well as other supporters like Ron Barber and Elijah Cummings.
“It was inspiring to see these true leaders demonstrating their long-term commitment to passing legislation that will reduce gun violence,” said Greenwich resident Jonathan Perloe who went to Washington this week to call attention to the inaction in Congress on universal background checks.
Congress needs to listen to the 9 out of 10 Americans who want universal background checks.
Perloe, representing the Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence, traveled to Washington with the Newtown Action Alliance. He brought a letter from the Greenwich Council that he hand delivered to members of Congress. The letter – “A Plea to Pass Universal Background Checks and Other Common-Sense Gun Regulation – is reproduced at the end of this post.
In less than 24 hours, the Greenwich Council gathered 220 signatures (I’m proud to have been on of those who signed on). The letter was delivered to about 40 House members who are on the fence about universal background checks and to almost all 100 Senators.
“We’re making the support real by personally meeting with Senators and Representatives,” said Perloe in an email.
The Democratic leadership is making a renewed push for gun legislation. There’s hope that enough votes can be changed to pass the legislation that was defeated in April.
The Newtown Action Alliance and all those who, like Perloe, engaged in the lobby effort this week in Washington are to be commended for keeping this critical issue before Congress.
“America has not forgotten,” said Jillian Soto, the younger sister of one of the murdered Newtown teachers.
And we must never let our legislators forget.
GREENWICH COUNCIL AGAINST GUN VIOLENCE LETTER:
June 10, 2013
A Plea to Pass Universal Background Checks and other Common-Sense Gun Regulation
Gun rights advocates are quick to use the Constitution to defend unfettered access to even the most lethal firearms. But before the Constitution came the Declaration of Independence, which asserts that we are endowed with certain unalienable rights, including those of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It continues, “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted…”
It is time now for the federal government to protect our right to be free of gun violence. It is time for you and the U.S. Congress to put this right on the same high pedestal it affords the right to bear arms. It is time for you to heed Supreme Court Justice Scalia who said “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” The Court was clear about the need for gun regulation: “…nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” The Court even goes so far as to recognize the right of government to prohibit “the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons’.”
Right now we are urging you to vote for comprehensive universal background checks for all firearm purchases. Common sense regulation, starting with universal background checks, is urgently needed to protect the lives of Americans in their places of work, houses of worship, shopping centers, movie theaters, parks and schools.
It is completely indefensible that Congress cannot pass universal background checks when an overwhelming majority of Americans support this common sense measure. Universal background checks will not restrict the ability of law-abiding citizens to own guns, any more so than vehicle registration makes it impossible to own a car or TSA security checks make it impossible to board a plane.
Beyond simply extending background checks for all gun sales, you must close loopholes and strengthen reporting requirements. The federal government has spent trillions on the war on terror, yet people on the F.B.I. terrorist watch list are legally entitled to buy firearms, which they have been cleared to do more than 1,000 times in the past ten years.
Some defend the status quo by claiming that common sense gun regulation, including background checks, won’t protect Americans from all incidents of gun violence. President Obama in his State of the Union address said what is obvious: “Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in this country. In fact, no laws, no initiatives, no administrative acts will perfectly solve all the challenges … But we were never sent here to be perfect. We were sent here to make what difference we can…”
It is time for you to make a difference in the epidemic of gun violence that claims more than 30,000 American lives every year. You need to vote for comprehensive universal background checks along the lines of the Manchin-Toomey proposal (not the misleading and ineffective Grassley-Cruz amendment).
Beyond background checks for firearm purchases, we urge you to require similar background checks for the purchase of ammunition. We know that even with stringent purchase requirements, criminals will come into possession of guns. Adding another layer of defense is a common sense measure you should support to save lives. To protect their safety, Americans get physician approval nearly three billion times a year to purchase prescription drugs. Why is it any more intrusive or inconvenient to require gun owners to get approval to buy ammunition to protect our safety?
Greenwich Council Against Gun Violence on behalf of the attached 220 individuals*
*Names removed from this version