Dear Mr. Maddmedic:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me and share your thoughts on the unspeakable tragedy that occurred recently at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. I appreciate learning of your views.
As a father and grandfather, I am shocked by the enormity of the senseless slaughter of so many innocent lives, particularly our nation’s greatest treasure – our children. I believe the President struck the right tone in his remarks shortly after the tragedy, and agree with him that no single piece of legislation can prevent another tragedy.
As you may know, firearms are regulated by a comprehensive system of federal and state laws and regulations designed to assist law enforcement in their efforts to reduce crime and violence. The National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, and the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act of 1986 all combine to form a comprehensive system of regulating the manufacture, sale, transfer, and possession of firearms and ammunition. Since 1986, for example, federal law severely restricted and essentially banned the manufacture and sale of automatic weapons (better known as ‘gangster’ style machine guns). Federal law is the minimum and many states place tighter restrictions on gun possession including wait periods, semi-automatic weapons bans, and conceal and carry restrictions. A full list of Minnesota’s laws can be found by visiting the Minnesota Legislature website at http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hrd/pubs/firearmsgd.pdf.
I believe more gun control is not the answer. We must also recognize this tragedy deals with issues of mental health and mental illness. In 2008, I supported the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Since the enactment of this legislation, federal law now requires that when an insurer chooses to cover mental health and substance use disorder services, they must offer coverage of those services at parity with medical and surgical services. We must look at the reasons this happened and how to stop it from happening in the future. We must focus on good public policy rather than rushing to legislate.
As new details continue to emerge about the tragedy, one thing remains certain: a community – and a nation – have been forever changed by this unthinkable act. Like you, I believe we must ensure that those affected have the support they need from our nation’s leaders. We must not legislate in haste; instead, we must take a thoughtful, comprehensive approach. As the details of the appalling devastation continue to emerge, the nation and Congress will talk about school safety, and how best to protect our precious children when they leave us for school each day.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please feel free to do so again regarding any issue of importance to you.
Member of Congress
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