Thank you for contacting me regarding the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
All Washingtonians – and all Americans – offer our deepest condolences to the families of the 20 children and six school staff members who were killed in this senseless attack. Our thoughts and prayers are with the community of Newtown, as its residents heal from this incomprehensible tragedy.
This horrific attack highlights several issues that must be addressed promptly in order to better protect against such inexplicable violence. We need to get powerful assault weapons off our streets. And we need to strengthen services for the mentally ill and their families.
In the past, I supported the original Assault Weapons Ban and the Brady Bill, as well as the Youth Handgun Safety Act of 1993, which prohibits juveniles from possessing or receiving handguns. I look forward to work with my colleagues in the Senate to strengthen responsible legislation to rein in gun violence. We need to work to close the loopholes in existing laws that allow criminals and children to gain access to firearms contrary to the law's intention. One example is the well-known "gun-show loophole" which allows people to purchase firearms at gun-shows without undergoing the background check required when guns are bought from licensed dealers. Lastly, I believe we must support increased gun-safety and gun-use education.
I support the Second Amendment and the rights of law-abiding Washingtonians who own guns. I also remain focused on addressing the deeply troubling violence in this country and making our state and our country as safe as possible for all people, including our most vulnerable citizens, our children. I believe both of these goals are important and can be simultaneously accomplished through common-sense gun laws and stricter enforcement of existing laws.
Along with addressing gun violence, making services for the mentally ill and their families more accessible will encourage those suffering from mental illness to seek needed care and support. Mental health care is a critical component of our healthcare system and an individual's overall health status. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in 17 Americans suffers from a seriously debilitating mental illness. I care deeply about mental health care and understand the important role behavioral health services play in the lives of both those who suffer from mental illness and their family and loved ones.
Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.
United States Senator