(The following letter has been received for publication.)
Dear Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee,
After more than two and a half months, our community is still reeling from the tragic loss of 26 innocent lives. December 14th has forever changed our town, our state and our country. If something like this can happen in Sandy Hook, then it can happen anywhere in this nation.
Since December 14th, I have spent my days and nights researching the issue of gun violence, and I am shocked by what I have learned. I learned that I could go to an unlicensed gun dealer and buy a gun without a background check, buy guns from gun traffickers, buy unlimited amount of ammunition online, and I can buy a military-style assault weapons with high capacity magazines easily. Meanwhile 100,000 Americans are shot every year and 32,000 of those individuals die (~12,000 are murdered and ~19,000 commit suicide using guns). Almost 2,500 Americans have died due to gun violence since December 14th. One out of five Americans know a victim of gun violence. Recently, the Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that Americans worry more about being a victim of gun violence than they do about losing their job or paying their mortgage.
Polls show that 82 percent of gun owners including 74 percent of NRA members support requiring criminal background checks for anyone purchasing guns. Yet, the NRA is fighting background checks. Pew Research Center poll found 55 percent of respondents favored an assault weapons ban. Despite this, rumor has it that you don't have the political courage to pass the assault weapons ban and other sensible gun regulations. I was hoping that the brutal massacre of 20 innocent children and six of their educators in Newtown would forever change you and you would act swiftly and boldly to save thousands of American lives.
I believe stronger gun regulations would have saved lives on that tragic day. I also believe if millions of people in this nation demanded change after Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson and Aurora then maybe just maybe this type of massacre in our neighborhood elementary school could have been avoided. It is unacceptable for us to not take action. Too many Americans are dying every year. You acted swiftly and boldly to institute measures to improve public safety after September 11th and you must do the same after December 14th.
I made a promise on December 14th that I will no longer stay silent and do more to save lives by writing, e-mailing and calling the lawmakers. I traveled down to Washington DC with 40 Newtown teachers, clergy, parents, students, other members of Newtown Action Alliance and families of victims on February 26th and 27th to meet with congressional leaders and to attend Senator Feinstein's Assault Weapons Ban hearing. We shared our stories of tragic loss, our pain and we asked many of you to honor the 26 lives by helping us to turn our tragedy into meaningful action and change. You have the ability to save lives, and I am asking for your leadership.
38 Charter Ridge Drive, Sandy Hook March 4, 2013