Open Letter to Congress

I haven’t written anything all summer because I haven’t felt like I had anything important or interesting to say. That changed around 8:00 this morning when I learned about the shooting in Virginia. All day I struggled to get work done as I grappled with wrapping my head around yet another senseless shooting.

I wrote this letter which I am planning on sending to my three representatives in Congress. If you feel the same, I would encourage you to send this to your representatives as well! If you think I’m a crazy liberal who wants to take away your rights, that’s cool too, bring on the comments.

Senator Grassley,

When is enough going to be enough?

America has become a place where children aren’t safe in schools, Christians aren’t safe in churches and reporters in small town Virginia aren’t safe interviewing with the local Chamber of Commerce. With the frequency that senseless shootings occur in this country, I consider myself lucky that I don’t know anyone who’s been killed in a tragedy like today’s. The Sandy Hook massacre shook the nation two years ago, forcing a national conversation about guns, yet the politics of gun control have barely changed.

Gun control may not be the only answer, but I firmly believe it is the place to start. America has six times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and 15 times as many as Germany. The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world – an average of 88 per 100 people. That puts us first in the world for gun ownership. Socioeconomic and other crime statistics aside, research consistently shows that more guns in a community lead to more homicides in a community. It’s as simple as that: more guns mean more deaths.

While there is no piece of legislation that can end all violence in this country, there are some common sense things that only Congress can do that can have a real impact on reducing gun violence in this country, while not infringing upon Second Amendment rights. I urge you to sponsor a bill making it harder for people to get access to guns. The only time someone has to go through a background check when purchasing a firearm is when they do it at a store. Even then, denials are rare, occurring less than 1% of the time. Dylann Roof bought his .45-caliber Glock at a gun store in Charleston, where he would have been required to pass a background check. Though he had been arrested earlier this year for trespassing and drug possession, he apparently met the legal criteria. Gun buyers who make a purchase at a gun show don’t even have to go through a background check.

Today’s shooting gave citizens a chilling, up-close look at what gun violence looks like. It shouldn’t take video footage or a certain number of people killed or shot to realize that America has a problem with guns. Again, as your constituent, I urge you to sponsor legislation making it harder for people to obtain guns in this country. We can’t guarantee strict gun control laws will keep guns out of the hands of people like Bryce Williams. But it would help. Shouldn’t that be enough?

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