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As a parent and grandparent, I was moved to tears by the tragic shootings at Newtown, Connecticut.
I am not opposed to gun ownership. Many enjoy hunting and they should be able to continue to do so. I have never owned a firearm or even discharged one in my life, and I have never understood the need to own an assault weapon. In today's reality we permit these dangerous offensive weapons to exist in every state across the country.
On Sunday, I asked myself two questions.
Am I really prepared to say that I am powerless in the face of the Newtown carnage, that the politics are too hard?
Am I prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
On Monday morning I contacted the office of the Congressman Peter Roskam who represents the Sixth District of Illinois to learn his position regarding assault weapons. Congressman Roskam is among the House and Senate members who received donations from the National Rifle Association. During the 2012 election cycle he accepted $3,000 from the NRA which made donations totaling $719,596. In 2010 he received $2,000, in 2008, he received $6,500 and in 2006, he received $4,950 for a grand total of $16,450.
You would think Congressman Roskam would be prepared to deal with such an inquiry after this tragedy. At least, I thought he would be able to respond, but that was NOT the case. In reply to my question, Jeff Ragsdale, a congressional assistant told me "You know, Congressman Roskam is pro-gun rights." He asked me to hold while he checked on the official position regarding assault weapons. After a brief wait he told me that he would send me an email later in the day.
I asked the congressional assistant if he knew whether Congressman Roskam would be willing to accept further donations from the NRA based on the terrible Newtown tragedy. He told me to call the Roskam re-election office and provided the telephone number. I called office and was directed to leave a message. Later in the day I received a call from David Rivera from the Roskam re-election office, and I posed my questions regarding future donations. Mr. Rivera asked me why I was calling this office, and I told him I was directed by the congressional assistant. He took my email address and said he would reply. As of this writing he has not replied. Later Congressional Assistant Jeff Ragsdale called me to report that he would NOT send me an email regarding my information request; but I would receive a letter at some unspecified date.
I was angered and sadden by this response but determined that this is too important to get a brush off. We need to do more to keep our children safe. This cannot go on. Mass shootings cannot become routine and accepted in America. The latest slaughter of innocents and those who tried to protect them has become a turning point for me.
If Congressman Roskam – as our district’s representative – does not have the courage and conviction to protect our children and all of us from assault weapons, his position should be known. And, if he supports and accepts donations from the NRA, I cannot support him.
Stand up Congressman to act like a leader and not an NRA follower.