To My Brave Senators On Your Vote Against Expanded Background Checks for Firearm Purchases

This is a summary of an email I sent to Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, venting on their decision to vote against the expanded background check measure in the Firearms Bill.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that you saw fit to vote “Nay” on the Expanded Background Check measure in the Firearms Bill.

I suggest that you review some of the comments attached to reports in the news media about the Boston Marathon terrorist attack. Many pay lip service or less to the suffering in Boston while launching into incendiary diatribes on why we cannot have any form of gun control. You think that these are your constituents. These are the people you are catering to by your vote today. Think again. I am your constituent.

The existence of a uniform, national background check system for all gun purchases in the United States is the most reasonable of measures that can be taken to reduce the incidence of gun violence. Why bother to require storefront gun retailers to obtain background checks when an individual can go to gun shows and to the Internet and buy weapons with no background check? Why don’t you just forget about the whole thing and let anyone buy a gun whenever and wherever they choose?

And what kind of statement is this, from your colleague Bob Corker, that the bipartisan plan “overly burdens a law-abiding citizen’s ability to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights and creates uncertainty about what is and is not a criminal offense.” In Georgia, my driver’s license is coming up for renewal in June, and I have to provide multiple forms of ID to renew it – original birth certificate, social security card, and so on, even though I have been continuously licensed to drive since 1961. I am clearly “overly burdened.”

The tragic mass shootings that we have seen recently – Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, Columbine – are the most visible of the gun deaths in this country. The CDC reports that in 2010 there were 31,672 deaths by firearm in the United States. Of these, the largest category was suicides, at 19,392.

The Newtown incident, with 28 deaths, was the second largest number of fatalities, after 33 in the Virginia Tech massacre in April, 2007. If one of these events could have been prevented, up to 33 lives could have been saved, all at once. On the other hand, if 1% of the total number of firearm deaths could have been prevented, 316 lives could have been saved.

So we really have two categories of gun violence that could be mitigated by closing loopholes in the national background check program: mass-murder by a mentally unstable individual, and multiple instances of suicide, homicide and accidental death.

Your weak, irresponsible action on enhanced national background checks for firearm purchases is an embarrassment. I have a mixed voting record, and consider myself an independent. However, unless someone steps up and shows some courage pretty soon, I will never vote Republican again.

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