Seventeen more Americans were denied life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness at the hands of another shooter with another assault weapon ​in another school in our country this past February  —  along with as many as 100 more around the country every day whose deaths ​won’t be ​reported in the national news.

I’m heartbroken. I’m ashamed. And I’m outraged by the inactivity in Washington, D.C. ​Thoughts and prayers will not save children’s lives  —  action will. And since Congress refuses to make the changes necessary to save kids’ lives, I will do everything I can to support the millions of kids — including hundreds here in my district  —  who are mobilizing to change Congress.

I’m honored to have the endorsement of Giffords, the organization started by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly. I’m also proud to be recognized as a Gun Sense Candidate by Moms Demand Action. I look forward to working with them to finally address the issue of gun violence, and that means:

1. Universal background checks for firearm purchases

77% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats agree on the need to close the gun show loophole and ensure background checks on all firearm purchases. ​And yet Congress does nothing, out of fear of angering the gun lobby. The only way to change that is to change who’s in Congress  —  and that starts in Minnesota’s 3rd District.

2. Mental health professionals ​and​ anti-bullying programs in all public schools

Our public schools lack the resources necessary to provide adequate numbers of mental health professionals and counselors who can help identify and treat children suffering from mental illness. We need to fix that. And we need stronger anti-bullying measures — like Minnesota’s Safe and Supportive Schools Act  —  in all public schools.

3. Declare a public health crisis and provide funding to the CDC to study the problem

We ​average ​one mass shooting every single day in this country. There have been over ​200 ​school shootings since Sandy Hook.​ ​We must declare gun violence a national health and public safety crisis,​ and demand that Congress provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the funding necessary to thoroughly investigate the causes of gun violence ​and potential remedies.

4. Reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban

The shooter in Florida legally obtained an AR-15 assault rifle. So did the shooter in Las Vegas. And Texas. And Orlando. In the 10-year period in which the Assault Weapons Ban was in place, gun massacres decreased dramatically, ​and​ they’ve increased dramatically since. We don’t allow hand grenades, bazookas or machine guns on our streets, so why should we allow other weapons than can cause such human carnage in a matter of seconds? The data is there and the evidence is clear. It’s time to act.

​5. Campaign finance reform to reduce the oversized influence of the gun lobby​

The gun lobby has spent a combined $156 million lobbying Congress since 1998. They spent $54 million in the 2016 elections  —  at least $30 million of that on behalf of Donald Trump. So far this year, they’ve spent $340,000​ in elections​  —  all on behalf of Republicans. Erik Paulsen​ ​has​ ​​taken over $21,000 directly from the gun lobby and said he’ll take even more. There is no better example of the corruptive influence of money in politics, and it’s time to say ENOUGH.

After the massacre in Las Vegas, I wrote that what we need is courage and action, not more thoughts and prayers. That call grows stronger  —  and more urgent  —  by the day. Our children are being killed and Congress does nothing. Our President is doing worse than nothing, by offering a budget that will actually CUT funding for school safety and mental health initiatives.

​We can do so much better. We have to. And since Congress ​once again ​refuses​ to take meaningful action, let’s elect a new one this November.

Sincerely,

Dean Phillips

Click here to read the original posting on Medium (4/4/18).

 

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