Our latest response is from Congresswomen Allyson Schwartz. We are quite interested to here from representatives out of Pennsylvania. It should not come as a surprise when a response comes down the party line, however there are many congress members that could still be on the fence wondering where they are going to win the most political capital, so be sure to let them hear from you.
As I work to meet the needs and priorities of our community and the nation, please know how much I appreciate having the benefit of your views. In response to your outreach to my office, I wanted to share my views regarding gun violence, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was shattering for Americans everywhere. Though my sons are grown now, my memories from their first days at school are still vivid and my thoughts and prayers remain with each of the families and neighbors affected by this tragedy.
We have seen far too many incidents of gun violence in our nation. I believe that we must seek ways to increase gun safety and end gun violence. Surely, there are actions we can take that recognize the responsibilities of gun ownership, while we do more to ensure that guns do not fall into the hands of criminals or those who are mentally ill, and that would we enhance the safety and security of our homes, schools, communities, and our public spaces.
I have long sought action to achieve these goals. I am encouraged by the recent efforts by Congress and the Obama Administration to reach out to the many factions in this debate and identify meaningful action we can take to reduce gun violence. At the initiation of the Democratic leadership in the House, there is a new House Democratic Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, chaired by my colleague Mike Thompson, (CA-05), an avid hunter and Vietnam War veteran. I am a member of the Task Force and expect to be an active member. On January 16, 2013, President Obama took executive action by signing three Presidential Memorandums that streamline parts of the federal government to trace firearms in connection with criminal investigations, improve availability records for background checks, and conduct research into the prevention of misuse for firearms after hearing recommendations provided by Vice President Biden who led The White House's gun violence task force.
Since the shooting in Newtown, I've heard from many Pennsylvanians, including hunters, police officers and others who own guns, that there is much more we can to do to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from having access to guns in order to ensure that our communities, schools, and public spaces are places of safety and security, and I agree. Specifically, I believe we should update and re-authorize the Federal Assaults Weapons Ban; enact tougher criminal penalties against straw purchasing; end the gun show loophole that enables millions of people to be able to buy guns and ammunition without a background check; and ensure that we invest in mental health programs and treatment efforts.
I am currently working with my Democratic colleagues in the House to repeal existing prohibitions on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct crucial scientific research into firearm safety. Gun violence is a public health issue and public health agencies should have the ability to develop and pursue violence prevention and mental health research. I am also a cosponsor of several bills aimed at curbing gun violence including the Gun Transparency, Accountability and Enforcement (Gun TRACE) Act, which will enable the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (AFT) to release crime gun trace data to state and local law enforcement and the public; retain records of background checks on firearm purchases for 90 days; and require inventory audits of federally licensed gun dealers to prevent the illegal transfer of guns into the wrong hands.
One of America's greatest strengths as a people and a nation is our incredible resilience, and we must use that resilience to not only grieve together, but to work together to prevent another devastating act of violence.
Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can help in any way.
Allyson Y. Schwartz
Member of Congress
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