By Roger Straw
[Originally published in the spring of 2018 following the Parkland, FL mass shooting, republished here in November 2018 following mass shootings in Pittsburgh, PA and Thousand Oaks, CA. – R.S.]
School shootings and other mass murders will never stop until we elect new leaders who are willing to stand up to the NRA. Below you will find links to organizations dedicated to ending gun violence. Many are focusing on electing new leaders who stand for change. Please click on at least one today – sign a petition, make a contribution, join or start a new group. Renew your commitment to resist!
An influential Benicia resident (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote to me on May 22, highly concerned over our Rep. Mike Thompson’s moderate statements on the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force page on his website. Her email subject line was “Not what I expected: Mike Thompson on gun violence.” She wrote:
Rep. Mike Thompson, District 5, has been chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the US House of Representative for several years. Here is his disturbing current statement on the Task Force site: note: there are links on the site about his gun prevention plans. From his website…
“As a hunter and gun owner I believe we should protect a law-abiding individual’s Second Amendment right to own firearms. As a dad and grandfather I also believe that we have a responsibility to make our schools, streets and communities safe. We can do both, but Congress will need to step up.
After being named chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives, I held a series of open town halls in our district that examined some of the actions that Congress could take. Hundreds attended these meetings. I heard views from law enforcement officials, mental health experts, school officials, NRA members and gun control advocates. Many feared that their Second Amendment rights would come under attack when my task force made its recommendations to Congress. Others wanted to cast those rights aside.
I believe both views are too extreme. I will never give up my guns and I will never ask law-abiding Americans without a history of dangerous mental illness to give up theirs. Not only am I personally against this, the Constitution does not allow it. In District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court affirmed once and for all that Americans have a right to keep and bear arms.
However, just as the First Amendment protects free speech but doesn’t allow you to incite violence, the Second Amendment has restrictions too. As conservative justice Anthony Scalia outlined, Heller does not prohibit laws forbidding firearms in places such as schools, nor does it restrict laws prohibiting felons and the mentally ill from carrying guns.
This ruling provides people on both sides of the issue with an opportunity to work within the confines of the Second Amendment and pass legislation that will reduce and prevent gun violence.”
I wrote to Thompson’s staff, sharing our concern about the Gun Violence Prevention page on his website, and suggesting they update the page to show Mike’s evolving views on this subject. “I hope you will pass this on to Mike and make an effort to update the website, calling for new and more stringent controls on guns, with special attention to military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons.”
I heard back that same day with a promise to pass our concern on to Mike’s communications director in Washington D.C., Alex Macfarlane.
As of today, there have been no updates on Mike’s Gun Violence Prevention page. Similarly, I can find no mention of assault weapons or automatic / semi-automatic weapons on Thompson’s Facebook page. I hope to hear from his office about changes, and will report here with updates.
Contact Rep. Mike Thompson – ask him what is his position on banning military grade automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons:
California has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. And yet, in less than 5 months so far in 2018, California has seen 8 mass shootings, killing 7 and injuring 32. Three of these incidents took place in the Bay Area (source: Gun Violence Archive). Even California’s laws need to be strengthened. For California legislative issues, see bayareastudentactivists.org/resources/.