Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) is the last of my congressional delegation to respond to my letter. Today I received his thoughtful response by old-fashioned snail mail, the only one of my representatives in Raleigh or Washington to do so. While the Senator does not forcefully defend the Second Amendment as I hoped he would, he does characterize the current proposals as “knee jerk” and recognizes that nothing being proposed would have prevented tragedies like Sandy Hook.
Dear [Armed Lutheran]:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the horrific tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, and about the possibility of Congress considering gun control legislation.
I was shocked by the tragic and senseless shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School. As a parent of two, I realize the importance of making our schools safe. We must ensure schools are able to provide a safe learning environment for both students and faculty. This is a topic I take very seriously.
A terrible event, such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, naturally results in a discussion about whether we should re-examine our laws and policies. As a society, we must recognize that the underlying problems that led up to Sandy Hook and other mass shootings are not simple ones. To me, this terrible situation raises many questions about the quality of mental health care in this country and whether people with severe problems are being properly treated. In 2008, Congress passed and President Bush signed mental health parity legislation to ensure that Americans could access mental health care, and we need to investigate how well this law has been implemented and whether people suffering with severe illness are accessing care.
Furthermore, I think that violence such as this also raises serious questions about the values promoted by our society and culture. Does the entertainment industry too casually celebrate depictions of violence on television, in the movies, and in music without considering the message that these frequent and graphic depictions send to our youth? Do video games promote social isolation and violent behavior, or can they desensitize impressionable young people to the effects of real-world violence? Are we doing anything to promote fatherhood and positive role models to our children, especially young boys? None of these questions have simple answers.
Unfortunately, rather than a serious, thoughtful investigation of these difficult, complex issues, the conversation in the media and elsewhere seems to be focused almost entirely on one approach: further restrictions on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. As a result, I fear that a knee jerk reaction to this tragedy that focuses solely on guns will only serve to give Americans a false sense of security about public safety, and our children will not be any safer from those who wish to do them harm. That's why I do not believe that many, if not most of the gun proposals under discussion are the answer to this issue, especially since none of them would have prevented this tragedy from happening.
You can be certain I will keep your views in mind as Congress debates this issue. Thank you for contacting me, and I hope you will continue to stay in touch.
United States Senator