Post By soonershoote
Post By OldVet
Post By cmdrdredd
January 15th, 2013 06:20 PM
My reply from Senator Coburn (Oklahoma-R)
Dear Mr. xxxxxxxxxxx,
Thank you for your email regarding gun control legislation in the wake of the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
I grieve for the 20 children and 6 adults who were the victims of this senseless and appalling tragedy. Their families, friends, and the community are in my prayers as they mourn the loss of loved ones. As the nation has come together to provide support for the members of Newtown, ultimately, we are comforted that God “heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3).
In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, there have been many calls for comprehensive gun control measures and a thorough examination of current federal, state, and local policies. I am open to having an honest examination of all the contributing factors and reasonable solutions to preventing future tragedies such as this.
There are many factors which should be examined carefully when considering preventive measures to ensure similar situations do not occur again. While a firearm was used to execute this heinous act, focusing on the weapon alone overlooks other key facts including the mental health of the killer. As a physician, I believe our nation could do more to ensure those with mental illnesses that are a threat to themselves and others have access to treatment and are prevented from accessing firearms. To this end, officials at every level of government must examine our laws and policies aimed at ensuring those who are prohibited from attaining firearms, including the seriously mentally ill, are identified and prevented from accessing firearms. Currently, persons who have been adjudicated as a “mental defective” are supposed to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Index, which is used by firearm sellers to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase firearms. In 2007, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act (P.L. 110-180) which established incentives for state, local, and tribal governments to increase the compliance of states reporting seriously mentally ill persons to the NICS system. However, a July 2012 Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that these incentives have not been implemented, and the law has not achieved the intended purpose of improving the reporting rates of mental health records by states. As of October 2011, only 12 states had made substantial improvement in reporting, while almost half of the states, including Oklahoma, had barely made any progress in this area. While states have primacy in passing laws and establishing policies on how to submit records to the NICS index, Congress should review, and amend if necessary, the recently passed NICS Improvement Act to ensure that it achieves it intended purpose of properly identifying and preventing access to firearms for those who are prohibited from it.
Knowing Congress does not have the capability to legislate away all evil, we must not disparage the rights of the millions of responsible gun owners and the vitally important ability to protect oneself and one’s family. Congress must also remain cognizant of the fact that, when certain types of guns are banned from the public sector, only criminals who already flout the law will be able to procure them. I firmly believe Americans are safer with the right to own and I will continue to fight to ensure the right of law abiding Americans to keep and bear arms is protected.
Criminals who misuse guns should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Furthermore, gun dealers who knowingly skirt rules and regulations or intentionally sell firearms to unauthorized individuals should be punished harshly. However, government officials and representatives are oftentimes more interested in attacking the variable, in this case guns, instead of the root problems, which include illegal activity, mental illness and the sensationalism of violence in our culture.
Since Sandy Hook, several member of Congress have proposed re-instating a ban on assault weapons. Proposals banning certain ammunition clips or ambiguously defined “assault weapons” are unlikely to increase public safety because individuals with criminal plans will not care that their weapons are illegal. It is also unlikely to reduce crime rates, as several studies of violent crimes have found that assault weapons were involved in less than 2 percent of all the incidents. In 2004, a report for the National Institute of Justice examined the effects of the assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2003 and found that “[t]here has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.” The lack of correlation between assault weapons bans and crime rates is also notable, as gun violence rates have declined to multi-decade lows, even after the expiration of the assault weapons ban in 2004.
There are many instances over the last couple of years where law-abiding Americans have been able to defend themselves or others from violent criminals. For instance, at a recent shooting in San Antonio, an off-duty police officer working at a movie theater shot a gunman after he opened fire in the movie theatre parking lot. Another instance occurred in Colorado, when a parishioner was able to shoot a gunman when he began opening fire on the congregation during a church service, preventing a mass murder. In contrast, the shortcoming of gun control laws can be readily seen in the failure of designated gun-free zones, where criminals have assurance that they will not be confronted by an armed citizen. With only one exception, every public shooting in the United States since 1950 where three or more people were killed occurred in a location where the carrying of firearms was prohibited.
In the days since the Sandy Hook shooting, local law enforcement in school districts across the country have heightened security at schools through increased patrols and safety measures. I believe every state and each school district must head up the effort to ensure proper protections are put into place and are working effectively. While some have called for federal programs to advance this goal, the federal government cannot be as effective in safeguarding our schools as state officials, local representatives, parents, teachers and school board members. Officials with close contact to the school and the students are best positioned to ensure the correct protective measures are in place.
For more information on the efforts of state and local officials to increase school safety and NICS compliance, I encourage you to contact your state legislators. You may find contact information for your state representatives at the Oklahoma Legislature website: Oklahoma Legislature - Home Page. The Capitol Connect website also allows you to easily find your representatives by entering your street address: Oklahoma Legislature Home Page.
Lastly, as a society, we must examine the corrosive effects that violent video games and television shows and movies have on our society. Ultimately, individuals make the decision to carry out these ghastly acts, but the sensationalism given to violence by the media and entertainment surely impacts the minds of those exposed to such imagery, especially those suffering from psychosis.
Again, thank you for your email. Please be assured I will keep your thoughts in mind as we continue discussing these important issues. God bless.
Tom A. Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator
S&W M&P 9c
Ruger LCR + P (.38)
Taurus M851 (.38)
January 15th, 2013 06:25 PM
That's a great letter. Hopefully, he can convince his fellow Senators to see the logic and correctness of his arguments.
Cogito, ergo armatum sum. I think, therefore I am armed. (Don Mann, The Modern Day Gunslinger; the ultimate handgun training manual)
January 15th, 2013 06:31 PM
"Lastly, as a society, we must examine the corrosive effects that violent video games and television shows and movies have on our society."
Amazing. I used to set up my toy soldiers and spend all day knowing them down with my BB gun, yet not once did that "violent game" cause me to think it was okay to actually shoot someone. It is not the games; the total indulgence in the games is an indicator of problems, not the cause. Kids need to be outside, playing ball, learning to socialize--even if being the last one picked for the team.
Sometimes I didn't like being the last one picked, but I got on the team nevertheless. It didn't cause me to sulk, pout, and comtemplate shooting all the kids in my neighborhood for picking me last. Something has serious gone wrong with the youth today. Maybe spoon feeding them their every wish and demand has backfired.
Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid...
"For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield
January 15th, 2013 06:34 PM
Yes, kids need active stimuli. I still would like to see some concrete evidence that a normal person is turned bad by playing video games.
Originally Posted by OldVet
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Laws are restrictive but sometimes necessary to maintain a civil society. Rights are nonrestrictive but are always necessary to maintain a free society.
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