As the United States Senate concluded a series of votes on proposed gun legislation, Senator Lisa Murkowski offered the following statement:
"I'd like to thank you for sharing a few moments with me on a very important issues that's been facing the U. S. Senate this week, and that is our 2nd amendment rights and gun violence.
"Alaskans have been watching the Senate debate gun legislation very, very, closely, because they want to keep Americans safe as much as anyone. We just don't believe we need to compromise our 2nd Amendment rights to get there.
"We all agree that we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable, but there are a number of paths to the same destination. There's been a lot of attention that has been paid to the Manchin-Toomey amendment this week. And while there were some good things in that legislation, I admit, I could not support the amendment as it was drafted. I clearly heard the concerns of Alaskans. They said, "Don't mess with the 2nd Amendment."
"However, it is clear that we can do better to protect the lives of Alaskans while protecting our right to bear arms. That's why I supported the proposal from Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa. His legislation is more in line with the views of Alaskans because it accomplishes both of those shared goals without adding any new steps or layers of bureaucracy for any law-abiding Alaskan who wants to purchase a firearm for hunting or protection.
"Senator Grassley's amendment would have strengthened the existing background check process, enforced the tough federal laws that we already have on the books, worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, criminalized straw purchasing and gun trafficking as well as worked to secure our schools. While that amendment had strong bipartisan support, it unfortunately, could not attract the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate this week.
"I do want Alaskans to know that I hear you. I hear your frustrations and I hear your concerns. I wish we had accomplished something this week in dealing with gun violence, but I was not willing to compromise our 2nd Amendment rights. I will continue to protect law-abiding Alaskans' right to bear arms and fight proposals that attempt to chip away at that right. I will also continue to work to advance sound legislation with my Senate colleagues that keeps the guns away from criminals, that keeps the guns away from the mentally ill. One of the amendments that we voted on this week included a lot of the pieces of a bill I had cosponsored to diagnose and treat mental illness as early as possible in young adults -- to proactively address problematic behavior before it poses a threat to our loved ones. Addressing our core issues surrounding mental health care must be a part of the solution as we move forward.
"Again, I hear Alaskans clearly -- and I hear your calls for action and answers to gun violence. I will continue to fight for our rights as well as the lives of our loved ones. Thanks.