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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Congressman Gerald Connolly Virginia 11th Congressional District Responds

Tomorrow will be no different from today in regards to the the functionality of a Semi-Automatic Rifle for any use. Some of these responses make it clear that any new legislation is merely a knee jerk reaction. Please contact your Representatives and make it clear where you stand on the 2nd Amendment and send us their responses, so we can let everyone know where they stand.  All responses can be sent to jsmith@predatorbdu.com.  















Thank you for contacting me with respect to gun safety and the horrific tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate the opportunity to hear your views on this issue. Like all Americans, I was appalled and outraged by the atrocious massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Even our Nation's collective inaction following the mass shootings at a shopping mall in Clackamas, a movie theater in Aurora, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, a Safeway in Tucson, or the campuses of Virginia Tech and Columbine, it is still shocking that parents cannot even drop off their children at kindergarten with the peace of mind that they will be safe from gun violence. 

Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost loved ones or were injured in the shooting. Based on our community's experience with the similar tragedies on the Virginia Tech campus five years ago and the D.C. sniper shootings a decade ago, we know the victims and residents of Newton will need our comfort and support in the days and months ahead as they begin a painful and lengthy healing process. 

Time and again our Nation has demonstrated thoughtful and generous compassion in responding to such tragedies, first in tending to the needs of those affected and then often taking action to help prevent such tragedies from occurring again. Following the assassination of a President and other national leaders in the 1960s, our Nation enacted common-sense gun safety measures. More recently, we continue to pursue homeland security reforms in the wake of 9/11. This most recent tragedy should galvanize us in standing up to extremists who not only advocate for unregulated access for any individual to any type of firearm, but actually seek to curtail law enforcement initiatives aimed at solving gun crimes and ending illegal firearms trafficking. 

To be clear, I strongly support protecting Second Amendment rights that we as Americans hold dear. However, just as avowed conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently noted in an interview on Fox News, certain gun safety measures are constitutional and our Nation must engage in a thoughtful discussion about appropriate access to firearms and the types of firearms available to certain individuals. For example, should high-powered, military-style firearms with large-capacity magazines – which were used in the D.C. sniper murders, the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, and the mass shootings in Aurora and Newtown – be readily available to the general public? Does the Second Amendment apply to the FIM-92 Stinger missile launcher, a personal portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile platform capable of downing commercial aircraft? Clearly such weapons are not intended for hunting, nor are they appropriate for use in home or self defense. 

Members of Congress have an opportunity to work together in a bipartisan fashion to enact common sense reforms that uphold the Second Amendment and increase public safety. For example, last Congress I was proud to join three Republican Members in introducing legislation to close the gun show loophole, which 85 percent of all gun owners, and even 69 percent of National Rifle Association (NRA) members support, according to a survey conducted by Republican strategist Frank Luntz. 

I also joined a broad coalition of Federal, State, and municipal law enforcement officers and associations, including the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, in supporting a repeal of the "Tiahrt Amendments" that prevent local law enforcement officials from accessing criminal gun trace information that is necessary to conduct gun crime investigations and dismantle illegal gun trafficking networks. Not surprisingly, the Luntz poll also found 69 percent of NRA members agree there should be no Federal restrictions on this trace data. 

In the 112th Congress, I joined Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York in introducing H.R. 1781, the "Fix Gun Checks Act," which would not only close the gun show loophole, but also strengthen State record sharing with the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). The need for this bill was tragically exposed by the Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho and the Tucson shooter Jared Loughner, individuals who only passed background checks because disqualifying information about mental illness and criminal drug abuse never made it into the NICS due to lax record sharing compliance by States. 

Please know that I will not be intimidated by the NRA, which has created a perception of power that does not match reality. Based on constituent feedback, I believe that my advocacy for sensible gun safety measures is not only in the public interest, but reflects the popular will of our neighbors in the 11th District. As Republican pollster Frank Luntz demonstrated, even among NRA members, there is broad support for sensible gun safety measures that the NRA opposes and has successfully killed, including closing the gun show loophole, prohibiting terrorist watch list members from acquiring firearms, mandating gun-owners notify the police when a firearm is stolen, restricting concealed carry permits to individuals who have completed a safety training course and are 21 years of age or older, and preventing perpetrators of violent misdemeanors or domestic violence from obtaining concealed carry permits. 

Once again, thank you for expressing your concern on this very important issue. I appreciate hearing from you. For more information on my views on other issues, please feel free to visit my website at Connolly.House.Gov. I also encourage you to visit the website to sign up for my e-newsletter.

Sincerely,

Gerald E. Connolly
Member of Congress
11th District, Virginia

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