26 February 2018
Dear Students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School:
The eyes of the nation are upon you! You have taken a horrific tragedy and are making something very positive out of it. Please continue!
I would like to share some thoughts with you:
Recent history is replete with instances of Republicans dropping support for any gun legislation as soon as public interest/pressure wanes. They are counting on you to get tired or discouraged and to fade away. Please, do not let them succeed!
You need to be very specific in the actions you want Congress and the President to take because if you are not specific they will trot out all kinds of ideas that may sound good/plausible but which, I guarantee you, will not solve the problem.
So, what specific legislation needs to be pushed? Here is what I would suggest:
- Background checks. There are two very different types of background checks and they are both needed. The first one would shore up the existing system by feeding it information in a more timely and consistent fashion. That is good, but it is not enough. The other is to make background checks universal so they would include all gun sales, not just gun sales that take place through officially licensed dealers. Universal background checks are needed because today somebody with a domestic violence conviction, though legally prohibited from owning a firearm, can still get one simply by going through a private seller online or in person. That loophole must be closed.
- There is another, even better idea out there – one that the Republicans will never willingly consider but that, according to many advocates and experts, could have a far greater impact than the two background checks set forth above. It is requiring would-be gun purchasers to first obtain a license.
The licensing process would include the following:
- Completing a gun safety course;
- providing at least three (3) character references;
- applying, in person, to local law enforcement agency;
- supplying fingerprints to the law enforcement agency; and
- waiting for some period (e.g. 14 days) to get the license.
Requiring gun owners to be licensed is comparable to what the government already demands of automobile owners. On February 13th a gun licensing proposal would have been a pipe dream but with you all behind it; it can become a reality.
FYI, a dozen states plus the District of Columbia already have some kind of licensing program in place, so, it can be done!
- A ban on assault-style weapons (I do not think this needs any explanation to all of you).
- The ability to obtain temporary restraining orders against gun ownership and/or possession for people who pose likely or credible threats to themselves or to others.
You have been thrust into something you never wanted (or expected) but it is an opportunity to change many people’s lives in a very positive way. If you (and the rest of us who agree with you) do not let up, Trump and his NRA and Republican allies will not be able to stop us from finally achieving real common-sense gun safety legislation so that “Never again” will there be another mass shooting at an American school.
Finally, please, as part of your efforts, urge every young person to register to vote and to vote only for people who refuse to take NRA money and who pledge to pass legislation to put into effect all of the specific actions set forth above.
Hang tough and let’s not let the NRA persevere once again.
James A. Crary
Democratic Candidate for Oregon’s Second Congressional District
I never have, and I never will take NRA money.