Today, Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI12), Vice-Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, issued the statement below following the release of the Task Force's recommendations to combat gun violence in America.
"I want to thank Chairman Thompson and my fellow Vice-Chairs for joining with me in the first steps of an honest and thorough discussion of this important matter. These issues are certainly important, and I believe they require the respect and attention of all involved to not only voice their own concerns, but to listen and consider the concerns of others. The problem of gun violence can only be properly solved if each and every American has a seat at the table and a voice in the discussion. I thank the Task Force for providing a proper first step in this much-needed endeavor.
"While I agree with many recommendations made in this report, I also have serious and honest concerns with others. I believe we must fully fund and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) program to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. I believe we need proper, and fully-funded, enforcement of existing laws that we know have not received the full-throated support and backing needed to work properly. We need adequate funding for mental health programs that allows us to provide help to those who need it. We need to crack down on straw purchasers and gun traffickers who not only subvert our rule of law, but fly in the face of the tenets of the lawful gun ownership our Constitution founded. We know these things to be true, and I'm glad many of my colleagues on the Task Force joined me in my support of those measures.
"But I believe we must also not propose any misguided or sweeping gun ban that does far too little to address the real causes of gun violence, and far too much in limiting the rights of sportsmen and responsible gun owners. We cannot afford to double down on any of the past policies we've implemented that have proven to do nothing to prevent such unspeakable acts like Tucson, Aurora, or Virginia Tech from occurring. Again, these issues are divisive and the risks of engaging in a debate that is not thoughtful, forthright, and honest will only further divide us. At this critical moment, we must focus on common ground and issues on which we can all agree. We must reach an honest consensus -- the American people demand it. We all agree that our Nation is capable of taking the proper steps to ensure that our families are safe and secure, without infringing the Second Amendment rights of responsible, legal gun owners. This balance is absolutely vital in protecting the rights of all, and one I believe we can achieve.
"These recommendations are not finite, and this document will serve as just one more contribution to the important national conversation that is taking place. While I do not agree with every recommendation included in this report, I look forward to continued discussion on the issue of gun violence that will allow us to reach an acceptable and fair agreement that is both worthy of our Nation and worthy of the American people."