We are excited to see how many of our readers have sent in responses from their Representatives in Congress and even better is the fact that you are contacting them in the first place. Keep up the good work. We will keep posting them if you send them in. There are plenty of those in the House and Senate that we have yet to hear in regard to their response to your letters. Our latest is from Congressman Fred Upton representing Michigan.
Thank you for contacting me about gun control legislation. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, several pieces of gun control legislation have been proposed and will be debated in the Congress in the coming months as we work to ensure our children remain safe and that such a tragedy never happens again. I have a long-standing pro-Second Amendment record and welcome this opportunity to respond.
As you know, a myriad of bills have already been introduced this Congress to restrict access to firearms, including reinstatement of the 1994 assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazine ban. The President is also considering a number of measures beyond a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, including universal background checks, a national gun database, strengthening mental-health checks, and tougher penalties for people carrying guns near schools. Vice President Biden's task force recently reported a number of specific proposals to curb gun violence, and I look forward to a robust and open debate on the issue that will protect Second Amendment rights for all law-abiding, mentally stable individuals.
It is clear that preventing future crimes committed by rouge individuals is not as simple as banning certain types of firearms or magazines. According to the National Institute of Justice, there are over 300 million non-military firearms currently present in the United States. Because of the large number of guns already in circulation, a ban on certain weapons or magazines alone is not likely to reduce gun violence in a meaningful way, and denying the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens won't change the behavior of those intent on using firearms for criminal purposes.
Unfortunately, the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are only the latest in a line of tragedies perpetrated by rouge individuals who should never have been allowed to possess a firearm in the first place. Horrific tragedies like those in Newtown, Connecticut underscore the need to keep guns out of the hands the mentally ill – a simple ban on certain types of firearms or magazines would not have prevented this tragedy or many others like it that have occurred in recent years. Any solution that seeks to prevent future tragedies must look beyond tighter gun control. The public would be better served by focusing on the underlying issue of mental illness, and keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable in the first place.
There is a consensus that we must take a hard look our nation's mental health system and our nation's culture of violence. The gun control debate should focus on keeping not just assault weapons, but all firearms out of the hands of those who are prohibited from possessing them. The common thread in each and every high profile mass shooting has been that red flags were seen, but no action was taken. We need a national effort to address those with mental health problems who are a danger to themselves and others.
I would note that I oppose any United Nations treaty that would in any way impose restrictions on the Second Amendment. I have also supported a number of bills that seek to require states to recognize each other's concealed carry permits; open more federal lands for sportsmen; prevent the EPA from regulating ammunition, prohibit unconstitutional bans on handguns at the state level, as was upheld by the Supreme Court; make common sense reforms to Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms, and Explosives policies in the firearms arena; and protect veterans Second Amendment rights.
I will continue to stand strong and the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans to own firearms, whether it be for sport or personal protection. Again, thank you for contacting me and I look forward to your continued input.
Very truly yours,
Member of Congress
- Congressman Dan Benishek Michigan 1st Congressional District Responds
- Carl Levin United States Senator from Michigan Responds