Dear Readers: I hate that I am writing about guns when I should be drafting a funny holiday post, but I believe we have watershed opportunity to finally implement meaningful gun control. Pasted below is a letter I just mailed to President Obama, the House and Senate leaders, and my state's Congressional delegation. I am concerned the next few weeks will bring much talk and no action. The President and Congress need to hear from moms and other concerned citizens who want sensible gun control now.
To that end, please feel free to cut and paste my letter and send it as your own if you agree.
December 18, 2012
Dear Mr. President:
Please immediately propose meaningful gun control legislation to Congress. The nation should never have to endure the heartbreak of another massacre like last week's slaughter of children in Newtown, Connecticut. As columnist Gail Collins wrote over the weekend, every country has its fair share of dangerous mentally ill individuals. Only in America do we give them access to the technology to commit mass murder.
We need serious, common sense gun control now.
This is a watershed moment. Please don't let it slip away. Please propose federal legislation to:
1. Ban the sale and possession of all automatic and semi-automatic weapons by anyone other than active duty members of the military and law enforcement.
Such an assault weapons ban should include a buyback program, perhaps modeled on the successful assault weapon buyback conducted by Australia in 1996. However, to ensure the ban is effective, it must have teeth. Those caught in possession of automatic and semiautomatic weapons after the buyback period ends should face significant prison time, e.g., at least ten years in federal prison. Assault weapons are weapons of terror. We should treat those in possession of such weapons accordingly.
2. Ban all sales of expanded magazines and so-called "cop killer" bullets, effective immediately. Do this by executive order, if necessary.
3. Require all guns, even those used solely for hunting and target shooting, be registered. Under the taxation power, mandate states should to collect annual registration fees in an amount not less than $300 per firearm per year. Such licenses should be non-transferable. I.e. If Household Member A is licensed to own a firearm, s/he cannot share that firearm with an unlicensed household member or with any other individual.
All proceeds above the costs of administering the program should go into the state's elementary education coffers. Also under the taxation power, direct the states to mandate that gun owners carry a significant liability policy for each firearm, something similar to mandatory auto liability insurance. Firearms are inherently dangerous, and should be at least as regulated as automobiles. Consider, as Nick Kristof pointed out on Saturday, that we in the United States regulate ladders more than firearms.
4. Immediately close the so-called "gun show loophole" by requiring background checks and significant waiting periods for all gun sales, even those made person to person. Again, please make this sensible reform—one supported by 74 per cent of NRA members—by executive order, if necessary.
Re-run each gun owner's background screening once every ten years, just like we do for driver's licenses. Perhaps consider the Canadian model, wherein a prospective gun buyer must have two witnesses attest to his/her background and mental health status.
5. Ban all Internet sales of firearms and ammunition, effective immediately.
6. Limit the number of guns any individual may own. Give the penalties teeth. Allow citizens to turn in surplus non-assault-style firearms for cash during the assault weapon buyback period.
7. Impose a significant sales tax on all sales of ammunition. It should cost way more than 50 cents a round to murder someone's child.
Like many mothers, I've spent a great deal of time thinking about getting weapons of war off our streets in the aftermath of last week's wholly preventable tragedy. I don't want my child to have to go to school in a lockdown situation. I don't believe any citizen's second amendment rights trump my child's right to a safe and secure public education.
I don't believe any citizen needs an assault weapon to hunt, and I don't buy the popular nonsense argument that more guns/concealed carry permits are the answer, as there is no recorded incident of an armed civilian thwarting a mass shooting.
Finally, while I agree with those who wish we had better, more affordable, more accessible mental health services for everyone, I firmly believe the first, most important step is to get these weapons off our streets.
Thank you, and best regards,
Mom to a 3-year-old
cc: Mr. Speaker Boehner
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
Rep. Mike Capuano
Sen. Harry Reid
Sen. Mitch McConnell
Sen. John Kerry
Sen. Scott Brown
Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren