Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about gun rights. While some Americans simply sit by and hope things will change, I appreciate the time you took to engage yourself in this important matter of Constitutional rights.
The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms for all law-abiding citizens. As an outdoorsman and member of the NRA, I am acutely aware of the many conditions and stipulations which gun owners must meet when exercising this basic constitutional right. From the first days of our nation’s independence, American families have owned and kept guns in their private residences. Millions of citizens also hunt each year across the United States.
In recent days, horrific crimes have been committed across the country with guns. These crimes have been committed by mentally and emotionally unstable individuals with evil intent. My heart breaks for families in cities across America that are affected by violence of any type. The collapse of the traditional family structure, the intensity of violent video games, unlimited internet access, and societal stress have combined to move anti-social individuals to mass murder. Furthermore, society has glorified violence on television and in the movies.
All too often, responsible gun owners are punished for the wrongdoing of criminals. Law-abiding citizens should not have their rights infringed, but criminals should not be allowed to purchase guns. We must focus on mental health initiatives, law enforcement, and criminals’ access to firearms instead of targeting hunters, responsible gun owners, and gun manufacturers.
Some feel that crime would end if guns were restricted. This theory has been demonstrated as false in cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C. where gun laws are strict, but violent crime is rampant. I have children in school; I understand the anxiety of dropping off your kids after another school shooting. But, I want to help our nation solve the problem, not just “do something.” Simple answers will not fix this complex family issue. It is right to have an honest and open conversation about gun violence, but our conclusions must protect our liberty and start our country down the path of healing.
It is important to refer to previously passed Congressional gun control measures to determine why they were enacted, and if these laws resulted in decreased violence. The National Firearm Act (NFA) of 1934 passed following prohibition to make the chosen weapons of “gangsters,” most notably machine guns and short-barreled long guns, more difficult to acquire. The Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968 was passed following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy. The GCA made regulations stricter on convicted felons, illegal immigrants, mentally unstable individuals, and others. The Brady Handgun Prevention Act of 1993 created the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) as a database to prevent firearm sales to prohibited individuals.
As you may know, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) has proposed legislation to renew the assault weapon ban that expired in 2004. The original assault weapon ban was part of a broader, significant piece of legislation; the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The assault weapon ban was enacted in the wake of a January 17, 1989 school shooting as well as the escalating violence of the 1980’s and early 1990’s turf and drug wars waged by urban gangs. However, it is important to note that during the life of the assault weapon ban there were at least 30 school shootings, demonstrating that the senseless school shootings and other acts of mass murder cannot continue. Removing one type of weapon will not eliminate school violence.
As the 113th Congress addresses the many challenges facing our nation, I hope you will continue to share your suggestions and comments with me. Please, contact me via email for a faster response. To keep up with my work in Congress, please visit my website at www.lankford.house.gov and sign up to receive updates at www.lankford.house.gov/
In God We Trust,
MEMBER OF CONGRESS