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163 Members of Congress Demand a Vote, Not Silence, to Prevent Gun Violence

Reps. Shea-Porter, Thompson Lead 163 House Members in Calling for a Vote on Gun Violence Prevention Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – In the wake of recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas, and Santa Barbara, Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01), a member of the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05) led a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) signed by 163 Members of Congress demanding a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

“Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre,” Shea-Porter, Thompson, and 161 of their colleagues wrote. “The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.”

“Moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote,” they continued.

Recently on the floor of the House of Representatives, Shea-Porter called on Speaker Boehner to allow a vote on legislation to help prevent more deaths from senseless gun violence.

The Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, which is chaired by Thompson, released a comprehensive set of policy principles that will reduce gun violence and respect the Second Amendment.

Of those recommendations, one of the most important pieces is H.R. 1565, bipartisan legislation written by Reps. Thompson and Peter King (R-NY) and cosponsored by Rep. Shea-Porter, to strengthen and expand background checks. This legislation bolsters the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners and helps keep guns from criminals, terrorists, and the dangerously mentally ill.

Right now, a criminal in many states can buy a firearm at a gun show, over the internet, or through a newspaper ad because those sales don’t require a background check.  H.R. 1565 requires comprehensive and enforceable background checks on all commercial gun sales, including those at gun shows, over the Internet, or through classified ads, while providing reasonable exceptions for family and friends. Background checks would be conducted though a licensed dealer in the same manner as they have been for more than 40 years. The Thompson-King bill bans the creation of a federal registry and makes the misuse of records a felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence,” Shea-Porter, Thompson and others concluded in their letter.

Full text of the letter to Speaker John Boehner is below. The full list of signatories can be found here.

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June 26, 2014
Speaker John Boehner
Office of the Speaker
H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

We agree with you that we must honor the victims of the recent shootings in Portland, Las Vegas and Santa Barbara. But moments of silence on the floor of the House are not enough.  The last thing these victims and their families need is further silence from this Congress. They deserve a vote.

Our nation has suffered at least 74 school shootings since the Sandy Hook massacre. The factors allowing these rampages are no mystery: loopholes in the background check laws, straw purchases, restrictions on law enforcement, and gaps in our mental health system. Dozens of legislative proposals that address these factors have been introduced and await consideration. But despite wake-up call after wake-up call, a shameful tradition of Congressional inaction continues.

Gun violence has affected constituents in every Congressional district, and as their representatives, Members of Congress deserve the opportunity to vote on bills that would address this epidemic. 

Congressional silence is not a sign of respect, but rather an institutional indictment. We must right this wrong. You must allow a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence.

Sincerely,

 

One Year After Newtown And I Am Still Angry

Author’s Note: Some of you may be wondering what is a labor union advocate doing talking about gun control and Sandy Hook.  The answer is simple.  I have three children who attend an elementary school just like Sandy Hook.  I would also like to point out that two of the largest labor unions in New Hampshire are the teachers unions (NEA-NH and AFT-NH).

One year ago we all were stunned by the horrific event at a little elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.  This tragic event that took the lives of twenty innocent school children, and six brave educators.   As Adam Lanza entered the school, with guns blazing he managed to fire over 150 rounds from his mother semi-automatic rifle with 30 round magazines.

The day after the shooting the American Federation of Teachers released this short video honoring the brave educators who sacrificed their lives to protect the children in their care.

That day, and every day since, people have been asking ‘what are we going to do about Newtown’?  For the first weeks that followed the shooting, people across the country were up in arms and calling on Congress to pass sweeping gun reforms.  A completely organic grassroots organization called ‘Moms Demand Action’ started pushing for background checks and smaller magazines on all weapons sales.

MomsDemandAction_Logo-375x300The argument quickly became a fight between common sense, and the National Rifle Association.   Across the country labor unions and other groups like Moms Demand Action, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Americans for Responsible Solutions (Gabby and Mark Giffords PAC) began an all out war with the NRA right on the steps of the Capitol.

“We demand a vote, Gabby Giffords demands a vote” cried President Obama during his State of The Union address.  As every day passed more pressure was being put on Congress to pass the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act, commonly referred to as the background check bill.  A bill that would require background check on all gun sales, closing the loophole that allows people to buy guns without a background check at gun shows and on the internet.  The bill also placed a limit on the size of magazines, and ultimately pushed for a ban on all assault rifles.

Momentum and public support grew every single day leading up to the vote.  People overwhelmingly supported background check on all gun sales.  The court of public opinion was completely against the NRA, who led the charge to kill the bill.

The bill failed to break the 60-vote threshold (54-46) to overcome the Republican Filibuster.  The vote was strictly down party lines except for one stray Republican (John McCain) who voted with Democrats to pass the bill to strengthen the background check system.  (Note: four Democratic Senators voted against the bill: Baucus (D-MT), Begich (D-AK), Heitkamp (D-ND), Pryor (D-AR))

After the Senate failed to pass the Safe Communities, Safer Schools Act people became even more outraged. Demand Action – a campaign by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns — started calling out every single Senator who voted against the bill with ads like this.

SHAME ON YOU KELLY Even after the failed vote teachers unions and educators continued to speak out for stronger gun laws.  The American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the crowd at a Netroots Nation event, “I am glad to be on the list of people they (NRA) hate.

The National Rifle Association even floated the idea that we should arm teachers with guns, because ‘the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.’  Many people, including myself thought that was just too much.  We are trying to keep the guns out of our schools and the NRA wants every teacher to be packing heat.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia completely rejected this idea of arming teachers.  Lily represents over three million educators nationwide.  As she phrased it, “People that would put our children, teachers, and janitors at risk do not deserve their office.”

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

AFT Remember Newtown via AFT Facebook page

Here we are, one year later, and what have we accomplished?  What have we done to stop the carnage of gun violence in America?  The Boston Globe reports:

A Law Center scorecard shows that 18 states weakened their gun restrictions in 2013, 11 states and the District of Columbia strengthened them, and 10 states passed a combination. Both sides in the gun debate, however, manage to find hopeful signs in that tally.”

Where is that outrage that we all felt last December 14th as we were all forced to see the images of teachers and children running away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School, or the images of the twenty children and six heroic teachers who we will never see again.   Where is that outrage now as the majority of the nation has yet to see any change in our gun laws?

As of today (12-13-13) there have been 11,436 or more gun related deaths since Newtown.  (Check out SLATE.COM’s most amazing interactive graphic that continues to update with the names and locations of gun related deaths since Newtown.)  This number does not include the thousands of people who commit suicide every year.  The CDC estimates that 33,000 people will die in gun related deaths this year.

The group Moms Demand Action released a statement along with a very powerful advertisement calling for an end to the ‘silence’.   Moms Demand Action are hosting ‘end the silence’ rallies all across the country to make the plea that we do not need more moments of silence, we need stronger gun laws to prevent these types of tragedies.

“One year ago, 20 beautiful children and six brave teachers and administrators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a tragedy that is still impossible to comprehend,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “On that morning, a deranged killer shot his way into what should have been a safe place, with an assault weapon and enough high-capacity ammunition magazines to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The massacre was the product, in large part, of our nation’s weak gun laws—laws that allow military-style assault weapons to be sold legally and that permit criminals and domestic abusers to easily obtain weapons at gun shows and over the Internet without a background check.”

Since Newtown there has been at least 20 different schools shooting claiming the lives of dozens of innocent people.  When will it stop? When will Congress wake up and do what is right for public safety?  I refuse to let this be another flash in the pan that fizzles out after time.  I hope that this one-year anniversary of the tragedy at Newtown reignites the fire we once had to effect much needed changes in our gun laws.  I am also proud of the labor leaders like Randi Weingarten and Lily Eskelsen Garcia who using their positions as labor leaders to continue to fight for stronger and more effective gun laws.

* * * * * * *

For those in the New Hampshire area here, is a list of some of the Newtown Anniversary events going on throughout the weekend.

Related articles on the NH Labor News:

AFT President Randi Weingarten Honors Newtown (2013)

When Tragedy Strike, Heroes Emerge. In Sandy Hook, The Educators Are The Heroes

Teachers’ Unions Make A Call For Common Sense Gun Reform

 

When can we stop adding teachers’ names to this list?

Sunrise over Shiloh National Cemetery

To the family of Michael Landsberry… and to all teachers across the United States…

Our hearts are with you tonight.  We grieve with you.  We long for the day when our nation’s schools can truly be “the safe sanctuaries our children need to learn and grow.”

It has been barely 10 months since Sandy Hook.  Since then, almost 28,000 Americans — including hundreds of children — have been killed by guns.

We are heartbroken that another teacher’s name has been added to that tally.

 

Granite State Progress Wants Sen. Ayotte To Hold Town Hall Meeting Specifically On Gun Violence

Sen. Ayotte refused to acknowledge the family member of Sandy Hook victim, or to answer constituents about her vote against gun violence prevention; Granite State Progress calling for Sen. Ayotte to host town hall specifically on gun violence prevention

TILTON, NH – Just one day after community members rallied at the State Capitol calling on U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte to answer directly why she sided with the NRA lobby over the 89 percent of her constituents who support background checks, Ayotte refused to explain her vote at a town hall and her campaign team even limited questions on the topic. Ayotte also chose not to acknowledge the daughter of a Sandy Hook victim who attended the event.

Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins issued the following statement:

“We are ashamed of Senator Ayotte’s actions today just like we are ashamed of the vote she took against commonsense gun violence prevention measures. If the family of a victim of any other national tragedy had been present, Senator Ayotte would have acknowledged them. Senator Ayotte is afraid to talk about her vote against gun violence prevention, because it was also a vote against 89% of her constituents. It is clear from her under-publicized town halls and refusal to engage in real conversation that she thinks her constituents will just forget about her vote.”

“We are here to tell her that’s not true. New Hampshire is a pro-gun state, but it is also a pro-gun safety state. We call on Senator Ayotte to host a town hall solely focused on gun violence prevention and explain in full why she sided with the NRA lobby over constituents.”

During the Tilton town hall, staff of Granite State Progress called out for Ayotte to answer questions about her vote after she dodged the sole question she took on the topic. The Granite State Progress staff was sitting directly behind Erica Lafferty, the daughter of the Sandy Hook school principal killed protecting children in December, when the Senator refused to answer. After Ms. Lafferty left in disgust, Granite State Progress stood up with signs that read “Shame on You.”

Gun Violence Prevention Advocates Rally at State Capitol; “Shame on Sen. Ayotte” for Siding with NRA Lobby Over Granite State Constituents

Community members and advocates take Sen. Ayotte to task on recent votes, call on her to answer for her vote at three town halls scheduled for this week. 

Press conference wide view

CONCORD, NH – More than thirty community members participated in a press conference at the State Capitol today to highlight opposition to U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte’s recent votes against gun violence prevention, and to call on her to answer during her three upcoming town halls this week why she sided with the NRA lobby over constituents.

A New England College poll earlier this year confirmed that Granite Staters overwhelming support stronger gun violence prevention measures – with nearly 9 in 10 supporting criminal background checks for every gun sale – but Sen. Ayotte voted against the popular provision and constituents this month. Public Policy Polling released numbers last week that found Sen. Ayotte is facing serious backlash over her vote against commonsense background checks, a sentiment echoed by letters to the editor and editorial pages across the state – and soon to be seen at town halls this week.

Speakers at the press conference made the case for urgent and swift action to prevent more gun violence in our communities, and called on Senator Ayotte to answer why she is blocking efforts to do so. They vowed that gun violence prevention advocates would turn out for the Senator’s three town halls this week to demand answers (RSVP to the town hall in Tilton). Here are some of the statements from today’s event:

Judy Stadtman is a co-founder of NH Project for Safer Communities. She lives in Portsmouth with her husband and two children.

“It seems that Senator Ayotte needs a reminder that New Hampshire is not just a ‘pro-gun’ state – it is also a ‘pro-gun safety’ state. A full 89 percent of Granite State residents support expanded background checks as a moderate, commonsense measure to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. By voting against bi-partisan compromise legislation to require expanded background checks, Senator Ayotte chose to take sides with gun lobbyists who want to weaken federal and state guns laws so that virtually anyone can buy any kind of gun with no questions asked, and carry it in every public place in America. That’s not in line with the views of responsible, mainstream gun owners, who overwhelmingly support expanded background checks, and it’s not in line with mainstream New Hampshire values.” – Judy Stadtman, co-founder of NH Project for Safer Communities

Judy Stadtman and Rep Steve Shurloff

Judy Stadtman and Rep Steve Shurtleff

Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) is a Retired Deputy U.S. Marshall and current NH House Majority Leader.

“As a former teacher and a member of law enforcement my heart breaks every time I think about these terrible tragedies. We must act to protect our communities in New Hampshire and across the country.   And we must do it without delay.  Too much is at stake. That is why I was very disappointed with the vote in the US Senate last week – these were bipartisan compromise bills focused on the very basic commonsense steps we can take to reduce gun violence. I have been told that New Hampshire’s own Senator Ayotte is holding several public town hall meetings this week. I commend her for that. Anytime you vote contrary to the opinion of 90% of your constituents it is important to honestly and personally explain why you did so. I sincerely hope – and without any partisan feelings here at all – that she offers that kind of an explanation this week.  It is clear that the people of New Hampshire are looking for one, are expecting one, and deserve one.” – Rep. Steve Shurtleff, Retired Deputy U.S. Marshall

Bill Kingston is a retired airline pilot, combat veteran, gun owner, NRA member and one of the founders of New Castle Promise (modeled after Sandy Hook Promise). He lives in New Castle with his family.

“Let me tell you about your constituents here in New Hampshire, Sen. Ayotte. We are disgusted at the epidemic of violence that has swept this country. A full 89 percent of us support expanded background checks to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We are horrified that the Constitution of the country we fought for – myself in Vietnam – has been so twisted and tortured by the likes of Wayne LaPierre and the gun manufacturers he represents, and that you and other Senators are willing to go along with it. Responsible gun owners understand that what our Constitution says is that all of our rights have limitations. The First Amendment doesn’t give you the right to yell fire in a crowded theater and the Second Amendment does not give criminals the right to buy guns. Nor was it written to promote this paranoid fantasy that somehow we need to arm ourselves against a possibly hostile government. As a U.S. combat veteran, this sounds to me a lot like sedition. Of course, Sen. Ayotte – not wanting to sound crazy – did not talk about armed uprising when she tried to explain her inexplicable vote to make us less safe in our homes and our beds and our streets and our communities. Sen. Ayotte offered some garbled explanation about how the rights of law abiding gun owners might be infringed upon – total baloney, we all know. When she saw her poll numbers slip as a result she then did an interview where she offered some barely comprehensible talking point about protecting licensed gun dealers. I am here to say enough with all of that Sen. Ayotte. You can protect licensed dealers, and our children and yes, even your own political career, by standing up for what’s right and fixing our gun laws. It’s time to do the right thing.” – Bill Kingston, New Castle Promise

Rabbi Robin Nafshi serves at the Temple Beth Jacob in Concord.

 

“In Judaism, safety is a religious concern. Torah states: “When you build a … house, you shall make a parapet (or fence) for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.”  In other words, you are required to properly gate a roof, in order to prevent people from falling off. The later rabbis site this verse to issue a general directive requiring a person to remove or correct any safety hazard,  or do whatever is possible to maximize community safety. More specifically, those rabbis ruled that Jewish law prohibits someone from selling offensive weapons to suspected criminals. We know that the overwhelming majority of Americans – and Granite Staters —  support these efforts as well. There is no sane reason to opposed background checks for all gun buyers, including those who purchase at gun shows and from private sellers, not just for those who buy from a federal firearms license holder, as the law currently states. After the shootings in Newtown this past year, a sixth grader in our religious said to me, “Rabbi, we expect kids in high school and middle school to be faced with gun violence. But elementary school? How horrible.” I turned to her and said, “What kind of a world have we adults given you where you expect to face gun violence at school? I’m so sorry. We have failed you. We have failed you.” And our elected representatives have failed us. Background checks have saved, do save, and will continue to save lives. They must be expanded.” – Rabbi Robin Nafshi

1 http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2013/04/ayotte-faces-backlash-over-gun-vote.html

2 http://www.nec.edu/news/nh-voters-want-gun-restrictions-new-england-college-poll-shows-overwhelming-support-for-tougher-laws

Gun Rally 4-29-13 GSP

“We say no…”

For most Christians, today marks Good Friday. It also marks 105 days since the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Earlier this Holy Week, hundreds of people walked and prayed from the White House to the Capitol in a traditional “Way of the Cross” liturgy. The group, which included more than 20 Episcopal bishops, remembered those whose lives have been taken by guns and challenged a culture of violence.

This short video of their walk is worth watching.

The gun control legislation proposed by President Obama in the wake of the Newtown shootings now faces threats of a Senate filibuster.

 

That’s It, REP ITSE Has To Go For Jeopardizing The Safety Of Our Children (HB 609)

I am outraged at State Rep Dan Itse and his new bill HB 609 that would allow teachers to carry loaded weapons at schools. Rep Itse, told AP reporter Norma Love that he submitted this legislation in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.

This idea just sickens me! The idea that we should be encouraging our teachers to openly carry loaded weapons in our school. The place where we are trying our best to keep guns away from! Scott McGilvray, President of the NH chapter of the National Education Association said,

“It is both astounding and disturbing that following the recent tragedies, politicians and pundits who have spent little if any time in public schools have taken to the airwaves and to the State House floors to call for arming our teachers. (2)”

“As the rest of the country debates how to keep guns out of schools. In New Hampshire, we are actually proposing bringing more guns in. Guns have no place in our schools.”

This is asking for problems. Rep Itse is asking for more guns in our schools. This idea of more guns in our schools appalls me and I have not hidden that fact (see also The Last Thing We Need Is MORE Guns In Our Schools And State Houses). More guns in our schools mean a higher possibility of a child being shot accidentally. Dean Michener of the New Hampshire School Boards Association said, “the chances an armed teacher will hit a child are high.” This is an unacceptable risk to on our most prized possessions.

Michener also made reference to the study from New York where police officers involved in a ‘fire fight’ have an accuracy rating of only 18%. These are trained police officers who have mandatory training and marksmanship testing. Even with all of this testing and training, when an officer is being shot at, their accuracy rating drops to 18%. This alone is enough to say that a teacher should not be carrying a gun into any school. Teachers would not be required to have any training, any testing, or regulated requirements before they carry their loaded weapons into our schools. All a teacher would need is a licesene to carry a concealed weapon under Rep Itse’s proposed bill.

Rep Itse is trying to say that teachers need guns to protect themselves in the event of an armed gunman going through the school. To show you how crazy Itse is he said, “They (teachers) wouldn’t be hiding under their desks looking for a pair of scissors.” I assume that this is to stop the armed gunman. I guess Rep Itse did not read any of the stories of what educators at Sandy Hook did to protect the children all without guns, or scissors.

Why is Rep Itse not working to find ways to stop these events from happening. Instead he is wasting time creating laws that will only make tragedies in our school worse when they happen.

I am glad to see that Governor Hassan will not stand for this type of legislation. “The governor believes we must always be working to improve the safety of our schools and communities, but encouraging weapons in the classroom would put New Hampshire’s children at risk of harm,” said Marc Goldberg, Hassan’s press secretary.

I hope the voters in Fremont realize that this is the guy they voted in. The guy who wants to revive the NH Militia and put armed teachers in our schools. Hopefully the good people of Fremont will see what Rep Itse is doing in Concord and reject his extremist view for New Hampshire. Unfortunately we have to wait another year and a half till we can remove Rep Itse, however I will not forget this.

 

President Obama Honors Families Of Sandy Hook With Citizens Medal

The tragedy of Sandy Hook is still very fresh in our memory.  The story of a mentally ill student terrorizing a small school taking the lives of students and teachers.

President Obama opened the ceremony by saying, “Today, we honor you.  We celebrate you.  And, most of all, we have a chance to say thank you.  Because all of us are what the rest of us aspire to be. “

There are many cases where everyday people become instant heroes for the actions they took in the face of immediate danger.  President Obama continues;

“And then when Dawn Hochsprung, and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino, Anne Marie Murphy — when they showed up for work at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14th of last year, they expected a day like any other — doing what was right for their kids; spent a chilly morning readying classrooms and welcoming young students — they had no idea that evil was about to strike.  And when it did, they could have taken shelter by themselves.  They could have focused on their own safety, on their own wellbeing.  But they didn’t.  They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care.  They gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us.

And that’s what we honor today — the courageous heart, the selfless spirit, the inspiring actions of extraordinary Americans, extraordinary citizens. “

True heroes are the one who are willing to sacrifice their lives to save others.  This is exactly what happened in Sandy Hook.  These brave AFT teachers sacrificed their lives to save the children in their care.  (Read more When Tragedy Strike, Heroes Emerge. In Sandy Hook, The Educators Are The Heroes)

Below is the transcript of President Obama’s presentation of awards to the families of the brave educators who died in Sandy Hook.

Heroic Teachers“The Presidential Citizens Medal is awarded to Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto for dedicating themselves to their students and to the community of Newtown, Connecticut. Some had been at Sandy Hook Elementary School for only weeks; others were preparing to retire after decades of service. All worked long past the school bell to give the children in their care a future worth their talents. On December 14, 2012, unthinkable tragedy swept through Newtown, etching the names of these six courageous women into the heart of our nation forever. The United States honors Rachel D’Avino, Dawn Hochsprung, Anne Marie Murphy, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, and Victoria Soto for their extraordinary commitment to the students of Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Accepting on behalf of Rachel D’Avino — her mother, Mary D’Avino and sister, Sarah D’Avino. 

Accepting on behalf of Dawn Hochsprung — her daughter, Erica Lafferty, and mother, Cheryl Lafferty. 

Accepting on behalf of Anne Marie Murphy — her husband, Michael Murphy, and daughters, Paige and Colleen Murphy.

Accepting on behalf of Lauren Rousseau — her parents, Terry and Gilles Rousseau. 

Accepting on behalf of Mary Sherlach — her husband, Bill Sherlach, and daughters, Katy Sherlach and Maura Schwartz. 

Accepting on behalf of Victoria Soto — her parents, Donna and Carlos Soto.

(Below is the full video from the White House of the award presentations)

New Hampshire Overwhelmingly Supports Gun Reforms

If you listen to the right wing pundits on ‘gun control’ they paint this image of President Obama himself walking into your home and ripping your guns right out of your hands.   I cannot tell you how many meme’s (images with words) I have seen, from both sides, on this issue.

The far far left is calling for a ban on all guns. I disagree with that. While the far far right wants to make teachers carry guns at school.  I am totally against that too!

So what should we do?  This issue is not going away.  People are not going to forget about the children who died at Sandy Hook.  Or the brave teachers who gave their lives to protect their students.

President Obama proposed new regulations on guns. His proposal includes a ban on all assault weapons and bullet magazines of 10 or more, and universal background checks.  This sparked outrage from the GOP fundamentalists.  They are screaming; ‘I have a right to bear arms’.  That is very true, you have a Constitutional right to own a gun and protect yourself.  The fact is that our forefathers were talking about muskets and muzzle loaders not AK-47s.

Times have changed and we need to change as well.  The fact is that even here in New Hampshire there is overwhelming support for gun reforms.  By a nearly 3-to-1 margin, Granite Staters support a ban on assault weapons in New Hampshire (72%-24%) and by a nearly 8-to-1 margin support a national proposal to require a criminal background check for every gun sale (88%-10%).

“The horrific tragedy that we saw in Connecticut has increased the public call for urgent action to prevent more gun violence,” said Granite State Progress executive director Zandra Rice Hawkins. “This poll demonstrates that the people of New Hampshire share the same sense of outrage that communities across the country have expressed in recent weeks. This should serve as notice to both the State House in Concord and our elected representatives in Washington that Granite Staters are serious about preventing gun violence. The consensus that the poll shows cuts across party, region, and gender.”

This is only the first step to creating a strong public policy for gun reform.  This is a fact that many people, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, agree with a ban on assault rifles.

“The gun used to murder 26 innocent children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School fired six bullets every second. That weapon, its high-capacity magazine, and weapons like them are designed for maximum carnage, not for hunting and sport.”

“The commonsense legislation introduced today by Sen. Feinstein will help keep our communities safe from gun violence, and we urge its immediate passage. A majority of Americans agree that these weapons and their large-capacity magazines have no place in a civilized society. More than 900 people have been murdered by guns since the tragic events in Newtown, Conn. We must act immediately to reduce gun violence and make our schools and communities safe.”

– AFT President Randi Weingarten

I am sure that I will get plenty of hate mail and derogatory comments about this post, I don’t care.  If you are a true fan of democracy then you have to understand that the ‘will of the people’ should determine these types of actions.  Overwhelmingly in NH and throughout the United State ‘the people’ want this type of gun reform.  This is not a partisan issue, it is a matter of safety and security.  Our children should not be forced to attend schools that are armed like military bases (ie Fort Hood) which still do not stop violent actions.   Hopefully with background checks, and limitations on gun sales events like Sandy Hook will become farther and farther apart until they no longer exist.

NH House: Legislators Who Wasted Taxpayer Time Opposing Deadly Weapons Ban Have Record of Extreme Guns Votes

Today the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 196-153 to adopt a ban on deadly weapons in the House chamber and gallery, following several painful hours of floor debate generated by Republican members.

Among those dragging the debate out for hours were State Representatives George Lambert of Litchfield, Pam Tucker of Greenland, J.R. Hoell of Dunbarton, Jordan Ulery of Hudson, Al Baldasaro of Londonderry and Lenette Peterson of Merrimack. Granite State Progress released an excerpt of the guns and deadly weapons vote record of these vocal speakers:

•    All six voted for exempting firearms, fire arm accessories, and ammunition manufactured in New Hampshire from federal law and regulation. The bill additionally would have made a state or federal official who enforced a lawful federal regulation guilty of a misdemeanor or felony. (HB125, Roll Call #12, 2/15/2011; Final: Interim Study by House)

•    All six voted for eliminating licensing requirements for New Hampshire residents to own and carry firearms such as pistols and revolvers, “whether openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded.” (HB536, Roll Call #14, 1/5/2012; Tabled by Senate)

•    All six voted for removing the minimum mandatory sentence for conviction of a felony involving the possession, use, or attempted use of a firearm, and would have made the sentence for such a felony conviction discretionary. (HB378, Roll Call #65, 3/15/2011; Final: Interim Study by Senate)

The vote to restore the ban on deadly weapons reverts House rules to those that had been in place for 40 years before the last House changed them.

“Granite State Progress applauds the New Hampshire House for this reasonable restriction on deadly weapons in the State House,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of Granite State Progress. “Returning to the previous House rules was a smart step for the safety of State House visitors and schoolchildren. The same state representatives who wasted taxpayer time debating this issue are the ones who voted to eliminate licensing requirements and background checks to allow nearly anyone to buy and carry a gun. Those individuals are not credible voices when it comes to when and where guns should be allowed.”

“Now that the routine House rules have been established, we’re eager to see the conversation move quickly to how to improve jobs and the economy for New Hampshire families and small businesses,” Rice Hawkins said.

# # # # #

Editors Note: The issue around guns and gun free zones has been brought up many times since the tragic events in Sandy Hook.  Rep Hoell even went as far today as to say that the tragedy in Sandy Hook was due to a ‘Gun-Free Zones’.  This is a complete fallacy.

As NHLN blogger Matt Murray pointed out in his post “The Last Thing We Need Is MORE Guns In Our Schools And State Houses” that many of the tragedies we have seen in the past few years have been in area’s where guns were present.

Remember that some of the most tragic events in the last few years occurred in places where armed guards were present.  Columbine had armed security guards. The University of Virginia has armed campus police.  Fort Hood is an active military base for pete’s sake.  None of these armed enforcers stopped those tragic events from happening.”

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