I write to express my support for rational gun control as a fourth generation Montanan, a pastor, a former public health educator, the mother of a victim of gun violence, the widow of a Navy vet who served as a deputy sheriff, and yes, as a hunter. I have expressed my concerns many times to my legislators, but feel it’s important to share more widely at this time. I am praying, and fasting from lunch one day for each person recently killed in a mass shooting. I am hungrier for justice than for lunch.

I am pleading with our senators to fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that passed the House in April. One of the things holding this up is its inclusion of a “red flag” extreme risk provision. There is growing support for red flag laws. The work done by our domestic violence shelter programs far outweighs the cost of violence in terms of both lives lost and law enforcement budgets. Holding up their funding is no place for budget trimming.

I ask them to remove the Dickey Amendment that hamstrings the Centers for Disease Control’s ability to gather and share information about gun deaths. Use that information to craft meaningful laws. ALL our laws should be built on comprehensive truth and reality. Public Health Departments have been calling deaths from guns a public health epidemic for 40 years.

A recent form letter from Sen. Steve Daines of Montana states, “Many experts believe firearm restriction proposals would be ineffective in preventing violent crimes.” While differences exist among law enforcement personnel, I consider them to be the experts. The official firearms policy position statement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police clearly supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons, closing gun show loopholes and several more key regulations. This is the world’s largest professional association of police leaders. Their experience and input into this debate is of the highest value. They stand committed to influencing tangible policy change. Following their call, pass universal background checks and stop the sale of assault weapons.

I pray that you will never have to endure the searing grief of losing a loved one to gun violence. Far too many of us have. May God’s peace find a home in your heart.

Co-signers: Janet Cunningham, Cheyenne, Jani Van Deusen, Kaycee, Wyoming, Barbara Karst, Laurel, Rev. Ron Martin Dent, Polson, Charli Prowell, Rev. Terry Turner, Rev. David Andersen, Janice Glass and Beckie Squires, Helena, Peggy Mikesell, Livingston, Shirley Oneil Butte, Rev. Janis Hansen and Sandra Baril, Sheridan, Rev. Charles Alkula, Boulder, Colorado, Rev. Kent Elliott Boulder

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Natural Resources Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter / Assistant Editor for The Independent Record.

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