On February 15, members voted to release the following letter to the President, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer.
Dear President Trump and Members of Congress:
Since January 1, 2018, there have been THIRTY mass shootings in the United States. EIGHTEEN of those shootings have been at schools, including yesterday’s in Florida. According to Mass Shooting Tracker (yes, we actually have a website, more than one, in our country to tally these events), in the last 45 days, 143 Americans were wounded and 82 killed in mass shootings.
According to numerous polls across the nation, nearly 90% of Americans support background checks; obviously, this includes members of the NRA.
The impetus to build a wall on our southern border, ostensibly, is to keep Americans safe by preventing the illegal entry of criminals and terrorists. Our southern border is not the problem. More people are killed by fellow citizens identified as members of the extreme right or hate groups than have been killed by terrorist activity, post-9/11; 85% of those identified as “terrorists” were born here or naturalized citizens. The money requested for this folly should be redirected to protecting Americans from homegrown gun violence by enacting and enforcing sensible gun regulations that do not infringe on the right of law-abiding gun owners.
A Washington Post article on “bump stocks” from October 2017 discussed the possibility of Congress acting to ban these and included a list of Republican Senators and Representatives listing their positions on such legislation. The matter was left to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, at the urging of the NRA, and nothing has been done. We continue to monitor the positions of all our senators and representatives on gun regulation issues.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ response to the MURDERS at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, yesterday, is to “study” the “nexus of mental health” and mass shootings. Clearly, he is not aware that the Dickey Amendment to the appropriations’ bill of 1996, states “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Despite this, hundreds of studies have already been conducted by private researchers at foundations and academic institutions, despite death threats in some cases, which could be used If ACTION had been taken, then 17 students and teachers would be with their families today.
Another problem with our failure to stop mass shootings is the persistence in labeling such acts committed by white men a result of “mental illness.” Men of color, who commit far fewer mass murders, are labeled “jihadists” or “gang-members.” While it is somewhat comforting to think that only a mentally ill person could commit such atrocities, medical studies show that most people who have been diagnosed “mentally ill” are non-aggressive, and those who are violent rarely use guns. Addressing mental health issues alone will not stop a repeat of Sandy Hook, or Virginia Tech, or Las Vegas.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated, now is the time for grieving; “We can have conversations about other things later.” Following the church shooting in Texas, killing 26, Administration stand-ins blanketed news programs decrying the politicizing of mass shootings and saying “Now is not the time to have this conversation.” The conversation wasn’t “had” then, in November 2016; it wasn’t had October 2017 after Las Vegas. Apparently, we aren’t going to have the conversation now, either, if some have their way.
We DEMAND that the Administration and Congress take action to prevent mass shootings in America by immediately enacting gun regulations preventing the sale of bump stocks, limiting ammunition sales and magazine clips, hardening background checks, aggressively prosecuting illegal gun sellers, and holding legal sellers who fail to do their due diligence accountable for guns used to murder.
We are mobilized. We are energized. We are actively registering voters, canvassing and campaigning for candidates who will act on behalf of their voters’ wishes, which is GUN REGULATION OVERHAUL NOW! Those who continue to kowtow to the NRA and its ilk are on notice; we are going to remove you from office using the ballot box.
The 457 Members of the Democrats of Greater Riverside