Democrats Won’t Stop on Gun Reform

(Originally published in The Essex Times)

Last month, as I stood on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, I had never been prouder to serve in Congress.

Roughly 170 of my Democratic colleagues and I were beginning what would become a historic, 25.5-hour sit-in, led by civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis, to demand House Republicans hold a vote on legislation to address gun violence.

Despite the overwhelming gun carnage in the United States, from daily violence to mass shootings, Republicans have taken no action to prevent gun violence. They sit on their hands, kowtowing to the NRA while innocent American lives are taken and families are torn apart.

The slaughter of our children — our babies — continues, and all we get from Republicans are moments of silence.

If there ever was a time for silence without action, that time has long passed.

Every year, more than 30,000 Americans are killed by guns. Gun homicides in the United States are about as common as deaths from car crashes.

For many of my constituents, this isn’t an abstract problem; it is a daily reality, a constant reminder of how easy it is for guns to end up in the hands of individuals who wish to perpetrate violent acts against the innocent.

For these people, the feeling of helplessness in the face of gun violence is common. They see a disconnect between the needs of their families and the actions — or rather the inactions — of many leaders in Washington.

It was this disconnect — between House Republicans and the overwhelming majority of Americans who support gun safety reform — that we wanted to amplify during our sit-in on the House Floor.

Republicans, beholden to the NRA and its contributions to their election campaigns, are failing to reflect the will of the American people by refusing to change gun policy.

But Democrats believe that Congress must pass common-sense gun safety measures to keep Americans safe, including passing legislation to expand background checks and ban individuals on the terrorist watch list from legally purchasing guns.

In the last 12 years, 91 percent of suspected terrorists have successfully purchased weapons. Over the same time period, nearly 2,500 suspected terrorists have legally purchased weapons in the U.S.

It makes no sense.

Our laws and policies should keep guns out of the wrong hands, not create loopholes for dangerous individuals to exploit.

The American people strongly agree: 92 percent of Americans support expanded background checks, and 85 percent support banning people on terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns.

They know that if someone is on the terrorist watch list, determined by the U.S. government to be too dangerous to fly, that person is also too dangerous to buy a gun. The same is true for criminals and domestic abusers.

Democrats will continue to demand from House Republicans a vote on gun safety legislation to keep guns from would-be terrorists and criminals.

I encourage you to join us in this effort, as you did during the sit-in through hundreds of phone calls and letters to my office.

Make your voices heard and turn your outrage over Republican apathy into political action.

Our collective voice will break the silence.
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