Dear Mr. Thunderbolt:
Thank you for contacting me to express your views on gun control. I appreciate you taking the time to write.
I am horrified by gun violence in our country. The shooting that occurred on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut - the murder of 20 sweet, innocent children and the six adults who died protecting them - is an unthinkable, terrible tragedy. I join with all Americans during this tragic time in extending my deepest condolences to these victims' families, who are facing an incredible amount of grief and heartache.
Now more than ever, we need to work together to make sure another tragedy like this never happens again. I support the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. I also believe that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those with mental illnesses without infringing on the right of law-abiding citizens to buy firearms.
That is why I believe that we must take a substantive look at various proposals to strengthen background checks and get assault weapons off our streets. This includes reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban and limiting the use of high capacity ammunition. I have also continually supported extending required background checks at gun shows to help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. Your views will be helpful to me as we further consider this issue.
While we need to look at gun control, I believe we must also look at the mental health issues that plague our nation. We need to make sure that people have access to the services they need. As a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I fought for over ten years to get mental health parity passed so that all Americans suffering from mental illness could have access to the treatments they need. We also need to find better ways to treat, or even cure, mental illnesses. That's why I am such a strong supporter of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). I will continue to fight to improve and expand mental health services.
Again, thanks for getting in touch with me about this issue. Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can assist you with in the future.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator