Enough is Enough


August 7, 2019

People of conscience have a choice.  We can go numb, or we can demand action.

Numbness was overtaking me as the news of El Paso, then Dayton, then Chicago flooded the media.  The needless deaths, lives cut short in split-seconds.  The heroic mother and father.  Hate assaulting the innocent.

But how can we let this wash over us and not try – once more – to do something that could save lives?

There is so much that is needed to heal us.  We must confront the appalling fact that the President of the United States repeatedly incites white supremacists and stokes hatred, racism, and fear.  He is tapping and emboldening dark forces.  We can fight back, but we need to come together with a single-minded determination to change the law.

The House of Representatives has taken important first steps.  They passed two background check bills with votes from Democrats and Republicans, each passing 240-190.  One, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R.8), prohibits most person to person and gun show firearms transfers without a background check.  The other, the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2019 (H.R. 1112) would require a waiting period of at least 10 days for a completed background check before firearms dealers could proceed with a sale (up from the current 3 days).  Now they languish as the Senate has recessed for August.  We must come together to tell the Senate to get back here and protect people by changing the law.

We cannot pretend that these bills are a magic solution to all gun violence.  But they are very likely to save lives.  Leader McConnell should call the Senate back to pass these bills and send them to President Trump for his signature.  Please use your single-minded determination and call your Senators right now to ask them to call for an emergency session and enact H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, the bipartisan gun sales background check bills, and do not allow attempts to demonize individuals with mental illness and immigrants to derail this process. And call Majority Leader McConnell too, the Capitol Switchboard is at (202) 224-3121 – they’ll connect you to any Senator you ask for.

There is no sensible reason not to take this small but genuinely useful step forward.  A mid-July national  poll found that 89 percent agreed that background checks for gun show and private gun sales are a good idea.  Your calls will remind Leader McConnell and your senators that constituents demand action, at long last.

Jennifer Mathis, Deputy Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

We cannot allow the President to continue his tactics of misleading.  He wants to divert us from modest but effective background checks to an inaccurate focus on people with mental illness.  He wants to entangle an important first step on gun violence with more anti-immigrant provisions.  No.  Jennifer Mathis, Deputy Director of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, spoke at a rally near the White House on Tuesday to tell us that hate is not mental illness.  Less than 5 percent of gun violence is attributable to mental illness.

We must be undeterred.  Mr. President, inciting white supremacist, anti-immigrant impulses has led to people’s deaths.  In their memories, let us take this single-minded step together to enact background check legislation. Please call your Senators.  And let that be the first of many steps away from hate and violence.