Casey, Thompson respond to Obama plan to reduce gun violence

From CDT staff reportsJanuary 17, 2013 

  • Sen. Casey’s full statement

    “While I want to closely examine the executive and legislative proposals set forth by the President, they include some very positive and reasonable steps to address the problem. The American people deserve a thoughtful effort to reach a comprehensive solution to address gun violence. It is critical that this includes increased funding for local law enforcement programs like the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program, the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) Program, and the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program, as well as measures to address mental health. I continue to be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and believe in the right of citizens to own guns for their own protection as well as for hunting, recreation, and collection. Nonetheless, after reflecting on the power of the weapon and the number of bullets that hit each child in Sandy Hook, the reinstatement of a ban on military-style weapons and high capacity magazines are two common-sense steps that I support. Moving forward, my hope is that Republicans and Democrats will come together and act in response to this great tragedy. I remain optimistic that the sense of urgency we all felt after Sandy Hook will not be diminished by time or any partisan battles.”

    Rep. Thompson’s full statement

    “The President has proposed a broad set of recommendations, which I plan to review carefully. There are no easy solutions when it comes to preventing violence, but we have an obligation to take every effort possible to better protect our communities, especially our children.

    “I believe there are areas of policy that can be improved upon, especially identifying gaps in our mental health system, better detection of mental illness, and enhanced communication and coordination among community organizations, law enforcement agencies, and offices of public safety. I also believe that school safety and the broader issue of child safety should remain a focus at all levels of government and society as we move forward.

    “While the nation has enacted many responsible limits on firearms, including long-established restrictions of gun ownership by the mentally ill and convicted felons, I do not believe that additional gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens will serve to prevent future acts of mass violence.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. and U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson agreed that President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence should be considered, but to varying degrees.

Casey said after reviewing the Sandy Hook shooting that took the lives of 20 children and six teachers in December, he supports reinstating a military-style assault weapon ban. Thompson, R-Howard Township, reiterated the need to look at mental health issues.

“After reflecting on the power of the weapon and the number of bullets that hit each child in Sandy Hook, the reinstatement of a ban on military-style weapons and high capacity magazines are two common-sense steps that I support,” Casey wrote in a statement.

In a letter to Vice President Joe Biden earlier this month, Casey said he, too, thinks mental illness is an issue that must be looked at, as well as gun control, but more federal funding to increase police enforcement is needed.

“As the nation considers all options to address this serious issue, including appropriate support for mental health programs and reevaluation of existing gun policies, I urge the inclusion of increased funding for local law enforcement as one element of a comprehensive approach,” he said.

Thompson, who has maintained his support for the Second Amendment, said in a statement he would look closely at the president’s plan.

“The (p)resident has proposed a broad set of recommendations, which I plan to review carefully. There are no easy solutions when it comes to preventing violence, but we have an obligation to take every effort possible to better protect our communities, especially our children,” he wrote, adding that there are parts of the plan that can be “improved upon.”

However, Thompson, who along with Casey was re-elected in November, continued his stance that a ban wouldn’t remedy the issue.

“I do not believe that additional gun restrictions on law-abiding citizens will serve to prevent future acts of mass violence,” he said in the statement.

In December, Casey told the CDT that the greatest obligation is to the “safety and well-being of our children.” He said a “comprehensive strategy” is needed to address those issues.

“Everything should be on the table,” he said at the time.

Also that month, Thompson spokesman Parish Braden said the representative “believes that our country should examine what can be done to help prevent gun violence and address the root causes of this horrific tragedy and others like it.” However, Braden said Thompson doesn’t want to “mischaracterize any aspect of this tragic event” and will wait until after the investigation of the Newtown incident to address specific potential policy actions.

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