Our latest response comes from the United States Senator from Delaware, Tom Carper. Luckily he provided a quick link for you to provide him with your own viewpoint on the issue. Delware voters will make the most impact. Find the Senators from your state at: Senate.Gov/Senators and Representative from your district at: House.Gov/Representatives Contact them today. Send us their response and we will post it here.
Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns about gun control measures following the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate hearing from you about this important matter.
Let me first say that my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the wake of the December 14, 2012 shooting. As parents of two sons, my wife Martha and I can only imagine the pain that these families are going through. I firmly believe that in the wake of such a horrific event—and a number of other recent shootings—we must learn the facts about what happened and look to the law enforcement community to make recommendations to Congress.
Not too long ago, I was talking with one constituent who was a long-time hunter and member of the National Rifle Association. He raised the issue of gun-control with me and said, "we just need to use common-sense." I couldn't have agreed more. We need a common-sense approach that strikes the right balance between our Second Amendment right to bear arms and ensures that our law enforcement personnel have the tools they need to keep citizens safe.
As you know, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, and I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right to bear and own arms. I have a long family history with firearms. My ancestors were craftsmen who developed a firearm known as the Carper rifle 150 years ago in West Virginia. My father was an avid outdoorsman and gun collector. I 'm a gun owner, myself, and have taken my sons trap shooting as part of their introduction to firearms training in the Boy Scouts.
My family also has a great deal of admiration for law enforcement personnel. My father worked most of his life as a claims adjuster for Nationwide Insurance, and he had the opportunity to interact with law enforcement officers throughout his career in the insurance industry. During that time, he gained a great deal of respect for those men and women who were willing to risk their lives every day for their fellow citizens. Having an appreciation for law enforcement is just one of my father's values that I carry with me to this day. Just as importantly, my father taught me to use common sense in all aspects of my life, and I believe this credo should be followed when debating gun control legislation as well.
I've long supported common-sense efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill. In 2004, I voted to renew the Assault Weapons Ban, prohibiting these weapons that serve no legitimate hunting or sporting purpose. I also support closing the 'gun show loophole,' which allows individuals to purchase guns without undergoing a background check that is normally required by law. The loophole allows felons, the severely mentally ill, and other individuals who would otherwise be prohibited from owning a gun to avoid background checks and records of their purchases and and permits them to walk out of gun shows with thousands of guns each year.
As you may know, President Barack Obama's announced on December 19, 2012 that he will take immediate steps to address the issue of gun violence. He has asked Vice President Joe Biden, a primary sponsor of the 1994 Brady bill, to coordinate an effort, comprised of members of his Cabinet, law enforcement agencies and others to develop concrete proposals to prevent further mass shootings. Over the next few weeks, President Obama expects to develop a multifaceted approach to reduce gun violence and will provide legislative recommendations to Congress in January.
As you also may know, there are a number of measures of gun control legislation that were introduced in the 112th Congress, and I expect to be reintroduced in the 113th Congress. I want to take this opportunity to inform you about a few of them:
?—?Prior to 1994, federal law prohibited semiautomatic assault weapons and ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds. In 2004, this ban expired and has not since been reauthorized by Congress. On January 25, 2011, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) introduced S. 32, the Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act. This legislation would reinstate the assault weapons ban and prohibit the possession of ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds.
?—?Under current law, licensed firearms dealers have been required to maintain records of all gun sales and to check their customers' backgrounds for criminal records before completing a sale. These requirements, however, do not apply to the unlicensed dealers that often do business at gun shows, a loophole that remains open in 32 states. On January 25, 2011, Senator Lautenberg introduced S. 35, the Gun Show Background Check Act. This legislation would require background check procedures at gun shows.
?—?All states provide concealed carry licenses to citizens. Requirements for obtaining a license, however, vary across states. Some states, for example, require applicants to show good cause for requesting the license, while others do not. To bring more uniformity to the concealed carry system, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced S. 176, the Common Sense Concealed Firearms Permit Act, on January 25, 2011. This legislation would require applicants to be at least 21 years of age and demonstrate good cause for requesting the permit.
?—?Since the passage of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Act in 2007, the Attorney General of the United States has had the power to withhold up to 3 percent of states' grant funding from the Department of Justice if they fail to report at least 50 percent of their records about serious mental illness, domestic violence, and drug possession to the federal database. Attorneys General, however, have failed to exercise this power consistently. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced S. 436, the Fix Gun Checks Act, on March 2, 2011, which would automatically cut federal Department of Justice aid to states by 15 percent if that state does not provide at least 75 percent of its records to the federal data base.
Should these measures of legislation be reintroduced in the coming weeks, I expect my colleagues to do what is right—to put partisan politics aside—and focus on common sense solutions to gun violence. I believe that we have a duty to do all that is in Congress' power to make these tragedies less likely to happen. I stand ready to work with the President and my Senate colleagues to help prevent future tragedies, like those in Newtown, Connecticut, Aurora, Colorado, and others before from happening again.
Please be assured that I will keep your views in mind should I have an opportunity to consider measures of gun control legislation in the future. Thank you again for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about this or other matters of importance to you.
United States Senator
To send another message please visit my website at Carper.Senate.Gov/contact and fill out the webform for a prompt response. Thank you.
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