Monday, September 29, 2008

The Ayes and the Noes of "Second Amendment Enforcement Act" House Vote

NECPGV would like to give a big HURRAH to all those members of Congress who had the courage and the fortitude to vote NO on the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act", a bill to override D.C.'s gun laws. In this election year all too many members of the House are kowtowing to the gun lobby and voting to protect guns instead of voting to protect the health and safety of the public.

We wish to thank all the House members from Southern New England who stood up to the NRA. Our deepest appreciation goes to Representatives Larson, Courtney, DeLauro, Shays and Murphy from Connecticut; Representatives Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Tierney, Markey, Capuano, Lynch and Delahunt from Massachusetts; and Representatives Kennedy and Langevin from Rhode Island.

It is unfortunate that we must give a big RASPBERRY to all the House members from Northern New England. None of them had the courage to say no to the NRA. NECPGV sent the following letter to Representatives Allen and Michaud from Maine; Representatives Hodes and Shea-Porter from New Hampshire; and Representative Welch from Vermont:

Dear Representative ,

It is incredibly distressing to note your recent vote in favor of the National Rifle Association's latest sham the "Second Amendment Enforcement Act." Not only did you vote to override the democratic rights of the residents of the District of Columbia you voted to ignore the concerns of the District Police Department. This dangerous and irresponsible bill will gut D.C.'s gun laws, repeal the District's handgun registration process, destroy safe storage requirements, and legalize high-capacity assault weapons. It will also infringe on the D.C. Council's ability to enact firearm regulations in the future.

It should be noted that your vote defies logic when considering that in April 2008 two polling firms, the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and the Republican firm The Tarrance Group, conducted a national survey on behalf of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Some of the key findings of the survey include:

· Stopping gun violence is a top goal for most Americans. 71 percent believe that stopping gun violence is a "very important" goal.
· 60 percent of Americans favor stricter gun laws. 33 percent think that gun laws should be kept the same and only 7 percent believe that they should actually be made less strict.
· 87 percent support requiring all gun sales be subject to a Brady background check.
· 70 percent support requiring every gun owner to register each gun they own as part of a national gun registry.

The result of this survey clearly demonstrates that many Americans overwhelmingly favor common sense gun laws. While many Americans also support the right to own a gun they see this as compatible with gun laws that target illegal guns and fight gun violence. This is, in fact, the essence of the recent Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller.

The Heller decision clearly states that while the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense, the right is not unlimited. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, held that "like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose." And while the court was split 5-4 on whether the right granted by the Second Amendment is tied to militia service, all nine Justices agreed that a wide variety of gun laws are presumptively lawful.

Next time you are faced with a key vote on the gun issue, please keep in mind that the majority of your constituents do not own a gun. The majority of your constituents favor stricter gun laws, including constituents who own a firearm. Despite this fact, you have disappointingly chosen to kowtow to the extreme wishes of the gun-pushers at the National Rifle Association. As one newspaper editorial put it: "This bill tramples on the district's right to govern itself and makes it harder for the police to protect streets traveled by local residents, government officials, diplomats and dignitaries. Voters also should remember this vote when their elected representatives piously declare their devotion to curbing the influence of rich lobbyists."

Who else supports the Second Amendment Enforcement Act? People on the Internet with tag lines that read: "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should be a store, not a government agency" and "I'm a Patriot, modern day Minute Man, and devout Enemy of the Left. There are way too many wasted bullets in this country. If you listen carefully you can hear the Angels sing and trumpets sound with each rebirth of another AK-47. Therefore I know I'm doing the Lord's work."

Hopefully, in the future, you will reclaim your courage by standing up to the gun lobby and vote to protect the safety and well-being of your constituents over guns.