Thursday, February 20, 2014
My Reply to Senator Merkley
I received this letter as a reply to my concern that Senator Merkley was in favor of restrictions on arms/magazine capacities, and demanding that he vote against any such unconstitutional infringements now and in the future. Apparently the Senator does not represent We the People of Oregon, but an ideology that he feels is more justified than the will of those he was elected to represent.
Thank you for contacting me to express your views on legislation to reduce gun violence. As Oregonians, we have experienced more than enough gun violence and this issue hits close to home for many of us. And yet many Oregonians cherish their guns and want to ensure that they continue to have the right to use them safely. I appreciate knowing the thoughts of Oregonians on all sides of this complex issue.
As you probably know, the Senate recently debated the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act (S.649), a bill that I have supported as a strong effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and reduce gun violence without impinging on the Second Amendment. The bill's main thrust is to close loopholes in the background check system, including the gun-show loophole. Oregon closed the gun-show loophole years ago, so this is consistent with choices we have made. I believe strongly that the most basic protection we can provide is to do a better job keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and people with serious mental illnesses who may pose a threat to themselves and others. The bill also includes provisions strengthening criminal penalties for people who conduct "straw purchases" on behalf of others in order to evade background checks.
During the debate of the bill, the Senate also considered amendments on a number of other provisions. I supported restrictions on large ammunition magazines, which are not needed for hunting or target shooting, but have been used in many mass shootings, and on military-style assault weapons. I also voted in favor of a bipartisan amendment to improve the mental health system and an amendment by Senator Barrasso (R-WY) to stop states from publicly disclosing personal information about people with gun permits.
I recognize that Oregonians come down in very different places on some of these policy choices. I come from rural Oregon and recognize the importance of hunting, target shooting, and gun collecting in many communities. I am committed to protecting the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens to own guns. As a parent and a policymaker, I also feel a strong responsibility to take meaningful action to reduce the gun deaths and injuries that plague our country and to keep kids safe. We need to do what we can to prevent the horror of Newtown and Clackamas Town Center and so many other tragedies from happening again. I believe S. 649 meets both of those priorities.
Work on the bill was suspended after it became clear that it lacked the supermajority of 60 votes to overcome a filibuster. If the Senate returns to this topic, I will certainly keep your views in mind. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.
All my best,
Jeffrey A. Merkley
United States Senator"
And this is my reply to Senator Merkley:
It is interesting how you view the Second Amendment, with hunting, target shooting, and gun collecting as your basis for endorsing legislation that does absolutely nothing to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals, but does much to infringe upon the rights of the People.
Perhaps you need to read the Constitution Jeff. Does this look familiar? "The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." It says nothing about 'law-abiding citizens' nor mentions hunting, target shooting, or gun collecting. In fact, it does not make exceptions for 'assault weapons' or 'high capacity' magazines. So where do you get the idea that laws for registration or capacity limits protect the 'constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens'? Is that to the exclusion of constitutional rights for everyone else? In fact what it does say is that you Mr. Senator, have no damn authority to pass ANY laws that prohibit or restrict arms of any type for any reason whatsoever.
Personally, if I could afford to own and maintain heavy artillery, I would do so, and it is NOT the province of government to tell me what I can and cannot own. Do you recall a fracas back in 1776 regarding government getting a bit too intrusive in the lives of the People?
Justify your unconstitutional and treasonous position with somebody who sympathizes with that rhetoric, because liberty loving patriotic Americans certainly don't!