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My name is Matthew Taylor and I was born and raised in Lancaster. I want to start by saying that I am appalled by the numerous massacres that have been perpetrated across the country in the past couple years, even more so when following each tragedy Congress has failed to act in any meaningful way. The most recent, and possibly the worst of current history, saw 20 first-graders murdered. From all media reports, these kids suffered multiple bullet wounds, which as a parent of an 18-month-old child, I find terrifying, sad and angry.
Terrified that it could have been my son, sad that it was so many innocent children, and angry that the leaders of our great country will do nothing. Well, I hope the last point does not come true.
I am a firm believer in the Constitution and the beliefs of our Founding Fathers who set in place the fundamental principle which our great country was founded on.
And from time to time, Congress has seen fit to make amendments to that great document to tackle issues not explicit in the original document, like slavery, prohibition and suffrage.
Now is the time for you and each of your colleagues to act. Perhaps not with something so sweeping as amending the Constitution, but at the very least setting in place the building blocks for controlling the weapons that have senselessly put to death so many men, women and children in our great land. They too, deserved your protection.
I have many ideas on actions. I would like to see the president, Congress and the Supreme Court undertake, including the fiscal cliff, setting a strategy for dealing with aging infrastructure, boosting the economy, and restricting lobbyist influence.
But I will only focus on the topic at hand – gun safety. In all the news reports that I have seen and stories I have read, there are some simple measures, not unlike the aims of the Brady Bill, that I feel will make us all safer.
First, place an embargo on the sale of body armor, smoke grenades and the like to individuals, and only allow it to the military and law enforcement agencies, while putting in a system to track all sales as a way to monitor the embargo.
Second, outlaw the sale of conversion kits that make it child’s play to convert semi-automatic to automatic, and ensure the penalty for possession of an automatic weapon is a federal penalty to act as a deterrent.
Third, stop the sales of assault rifles to individuals. No one needs an M16, M60, uzi, or M4 to go hunting, and I challenge anyone who says otherwise. The only thing these weapons are good for are killing people, that’s it. Now this is one point where I can see great resistance. I offer a middle ground, restrict private ownership of these types of weapons but allow gun enthusiasts, such as the NRA, to operate them in gun clubs and shooting ranges where they can be registered, monitored and secured when not used.
My fourth point should be easy for the government as it was part of the Brady Bill that I understand has lapsed, with a twist. Bring back the background check, but require the purchaser to submit evidence that they have not committed a crime in any state, along with multiple forms of ID.
Extend the background check period to 15 business days, to allow confirmation of the details submitted, no one with an honest purpose needs a gun any quicker.
The twist will be to instigate a search to determine if the applicant has been subject to institutionalization for any mental disorder, alternatively require them to submit to a physiological evaluation. As it appears, the majority of shooters in recent massacres all had diagnosed mental disorders.
Finally, I hope that you can come up with other ideas to tackle this issue head on.
I pray you read this letter through, and I challenge you to champion this issue with your Republican and Democratic colleagues and to take action without delay and not simply cast it aside for fear of the NRA or any other special interest group’s threat to stop you or any other member of Congress’ re-election. I look forward to hearing from you on this issue.
Former Lancaster resident Matthew Taylor now lives in Sydney, Australia. Taylor wrote this letter to Sens. Jim DeMint, Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. James Clyburn.