It seems that nearly every week, another name becomes synonymous with tragedy. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Parkland. And even in our own backyard at Marysville-Pilchuck High School. I know EVERYONE – gunowners and non-gunowners alike – wants to prevent these kinds of heart-breaking events.
I support the second amendment and have family and friends who are avid hunters and responsible gun owners – including a niece and nephew who own a hunting expedition company and hunt much of their own food. I also support common-sense gun legislation. My heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones in the horrific and all-too-common mass shootings that plague our country. And too many families have also experienced gun violence in other ways, such as accidents and suicides. I believe we can find common ground, where we can see fewer gun-related deaths, while still protecting the rights of responsible gun owners.
America has a problem – make no mistake, a public health problem – and it needs to be addressed. This means finding more solutions to the full spectrum of gun deaths: from mass shootings and murders to accidents to suicides. In addition to the common-sense measures that we can take immediately to keep weapons out of dangerous hands, what additional interventions will help? What’s needed to further empower family, teachers, classmates, and friends to report concerns, and to whom? What actions work in response? What interventions work better for different age groups or different contexts to reduce the risk of gun violence? How can we get everyone across communities to help promote safe firearm storage? How many deaths and injuries would be prevented if existing policies – such as orders to relinquish firearms in cases of domestic violence – were fully implemented, and what would that take? The fact is, we don’t know and we need to find out. As a doctor and a scientist, I believe in evidence-based solutions. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been effectively prohibited from doing research into what works to reduce and prevent gun deaths. We need more answers and more solutions. And we need to fund what works.
As your congresswoman, my priorities regarding gun safety will be:
- To mandate a full public health response to gun violence, to find out what policies, programs, mental health support, young adult programs, or other measures will do the most to reduce gun deaths, including those due to suicides and accidents, and fund those interventions;
- To expand background check measures to include Internet and gun show sales nationally, strengthen systems used to conduct such checks rapidly and efficiently, and enforce compliance with existing policies;
- To reinstate the Obama-era regulation that would have made it easier for background checks to accurately identify people with certain mental illnesses who are not currently allowed to purchase guns – a regulation that President Trump overturned;
- To encourage “smart gun” technology that incorporates safety features that prevent misuse, accidental shootings, gun thefts, and use of the weapon against the owner;
- To renew the ban of the manufacture of assault weapons, and ban high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks” such as the one used in Las Vegas.
- To support and promote safe storage: keeping guns locked, unloaded, and stored properly to decrease the chances of an unintentional shooting or of a child getting access to weapons.