Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mark Warner on Firearms Rights

Last month, several Virginians e-mailed (and called and wrote) Senator Mark Warner about the need to stand firm on civil liberties, including firearms rights. By now I suspect several of us have received responses similar to this one. Well, it's the Senator's opinion and position, to which he is entitled, whether it interferes with his ability to represent the majority of his constituents or not. This morning Dudley Brown e-mailed us that he feels this letter as a "betrayal." I beg to remind those tempted to harsh judgments that as a Democrat the Senator is surrounded by axe-grinding types who crank out misinformation and disinformation, and try to discredit or suppress information, about what really causes outbursts like Adam Lanza's.

"Dear Ms. King,

 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 improving the existing criminal background check system. Currently, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is woefully incomplete, with many states failing to submit available records on persons who may be disqualified from purchasing or possessing firearms. With a more complete background check system, we can keep firearms out of the hands of those who have been deemed unfit to possess them.

In addition, we can take common sense measures such as passing the CAMPUS Safety Act (S. 3682), which I introduced last year. That bill would establish a national center for campus public safety within the Department of Justice to serve as a resource center and assist schools and universities in developing campus safety plans and threat assessment tools. We also need to look at changes to our mental health system so we can provide help to those with dangerous mental illnesses before it is too late. There will not be a single solution, but all of these issues and others need to be part of the conversation and I urge you to continue to express your views as we move forward.

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 .

United States Senator"
Well...for starters, until we shed some hypocrisy about the dangers of some prescription medications that cause dangerous mental illnesses (whether prescribed for mental or physical illnesses), background checks can't do much; so far as I've heard, Adam Lanza would have passed a background check, having no criminal history.

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