Congress’ failure on gun control leaves blood on its hands
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When President Ronald Reagan and Press Secretary Jim Brady were shot, Congress passed the Brady Bill to make Americans safer. 

When the Towers were attacked on 9/11, Congress responded aggressively with legislative action to protect Americans from terrorism. Yet, when twenty `first graders and six of their educators were murdered at the Sandy Hook School on Dec. 14, 2012, Congress failed to enact a single piece of legislation in response.

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Since then, 130,000 Americans have been killed by gun violence, including suicides. By failing to act, Congress remains complicit in the carnage brought on by mass shootings, suicides and the daily drumbeat of shootings in our cities. Congress’ abdication of its responsibility is highlighted by its refusal to require a background check on all gun sales, even though over 90 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of gun owners, favor it. 

 

To make matters worse, however, Congress is now seriously contemplating bills that would make Americans less safe and more vulnerable to gun violence.

Unlike the Federal government, many states and cities have worked hard to enact common sense measures to protect their citizens, but complementary federal action is required.  Instead of doing its job, however, Congress seems determined to undermine important public safety laws, which will only result in more gun violence deaths and injuries.

One such NRA spurred effort in Congress is the pending National Reciprocity Act of 2017 (S. 446 & H.R. 38), sadly bearing the same initials as the National Rifle Association, which would force states to allow concealed carry under the requirements of the issuing state; that is, as long as the person carrying a concealed firearm is able to do so in their home state, they can carry it in every state.  

By way of example, consider Connecticut and Missouri, which have been compared in a recent study by Professor Daniel Webster showing that handgun purchaser licensing saves lives.

In Missouri, as of January 1, 2017, open and concealed carry are permitted throughout the state, for those 19 years or older, with or without a concealed carry permit, and with no training requirement.  On the other hand, in Connecticut, applications for concealed carry are made to the State Police.

The applicant must be at least twenty-one and a legal resident of the United States, require a background check, have a residence or business in Connecticut, be a “suitable person,” and have successfully completed an approved handgun safety course.  In addition, the applicant must not have been convicted of a variety of felonies or violations.

Accordingly, if Congress were to pass the National Reciprocity Act, a 19-year old Missouri resident who may carry a concealed firearm without a permit and with no training, could also do so in Connecticut without a permit and with no training, thereby legally avoiding all of Connecticut’s requirements.

Similar horrifying comparisons can be made with other states, including Vermont.  In Vermont, a 16-year old can carry a handgun without any permit or training. Those under 16 can also carry a concealed handgun with permission from a parent.  

Connecticut law is not in accord, and many in Connecticut would find it outrageous that a 16-year old, or even younger child, should be able to carry a concealed handgun in Connecticut without any permit or training. Again, reasonable requirements now in place in Connecticut and other states would be rendered superfluous.  The entire Nation would be thrown into a race to the bottom.

To combat these sinister efforts, Americans are fighting back. Grassroots organizations like Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Americans for Responsible Solutions, among others, are growing to combat the influence of the NRA.  

And, beginning this Thursday, twenty-six cyclists will ride for the fifth year approximately 400 miles in four days to honor those killed at the Sandy Hook School and all victims of gun violence, to raise awareness of this public health crisis, and to support common sense measures to reduce it.

The men and women that comprise “Team 26” include educators and high school students, veterans, medical professionals, and representatives from many states such as Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Maryland and Texas.

They will leave the Capitol on May 4th and ride towards and through states that are actually working to reduce gun violence. 

Until members of Congress do their jobs and pass laws to make Americans safer, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for victims, Team 26 will ride with Congress at their backs.  They will arrive in Newtown on May 7th for a Welcome Home Rally.

As Team 26 rides away from Congress, they will be reminding Congress that gun violence continues to occur in the United States at rates that are unacceptable, and that commonsense measures to reduce it are needed, including requiring a background check on all gun sales and limiting magazines to 10 rounds.  

The dangerous National Reciprocity Act must be defeated.  During Team 26’s ride, the Campaign to Keep Guns Off Campus will be circulating a petition to be delivered to Senator Richard Blumenthal and Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty when Team 26 arrives in Newtown on May 7. 

Team 26 will be stopping for events at city halls and universities throughout their ride.  Speakers will include federal and state lawmakers, mayors, activists, students, teachers, family members, survivors and others.  

Team 26 will be applauding their efforts to make our communities safer and standing with them in honoring those killed by gun violence.  

Monte Frank lives in Sandy Hook, CT. He is the founder of Team 26, which was launched after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT to advocate for smarter gun policy. He is the president of the Connecticut Bar. Follow him on Twitter @montefrank1


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