We are all deeply distressed by the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and share in the country’s grief. As leaders in your community, remember that the League of Women Voters is singularly well suited to gather disparate members of the community together to discuss difficult issues and work to find common ground to solve problems. At the same time, there will be opportunities to take action through legislation at the state and federal levels.
Members of the U.S. House and Senate have already signaled their intent to introduce legislation to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines when the 113th Congress meets in January and President Obama has asked Vice-President Biden to oversee a task force that will develop new gun control and mental health policies. The Task Force report is expected in January.
Since 1990, the League of Women Voters has had a position to protect the health and safety of citizens through limiting the accessibility and regulating the ownership of handguns and semi-automatic weapons, and we supported the original ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines when it was passed in 1994. The League’s health care position also states that every U.S. resident should have access to a basic level of quality care that includes, among other things, mental health care.
As the League has done throughout our history, we know that real solutions to serious problems are not easily achieved, but the combination of our thoughtful understanding of these issues combined with our respected reputation to facilitate challenging discussions among people in our communities and with policy makers, puts us in a place of offering the best of what we are to a nation yearning for solutions.
We will be looking for opportunities to share the League’s views as this very complex debate progresses. In the meantime, you can reach out to your representatives when they are home to express the League’s view that there is no role for assault weapons or high-capacity magazines in civilized society.
Written by Elisabeth MacNamara