U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement regarding President Obama's gun control proposals following the tragic events that took place in December at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
"The president is right to examine what can be done to prevent tragedies such as Sandy Hook from occurring again. I commend his effort and look forward to working with him on areas of agreement while we continue to honestly debate areas of disagreement. For instance, the president is right to take steps to strengthen mental health databases and reporting to the NICS system so we can ensure that guns do not end up in the hands of criminals or those who are a threat to themselves or others. In the hands of a deranged person, a clip size of one is one too many. Still, states are primarily responsible for enacting measures to improve reporting to the NICS system," Dr. Coburn said.
"I also support the president's call for Congress to vote on these measures and I will review his recommendations in detail. Some have asked whether I will try to block or filibuster this debate because of my support of the Second Amendment. My goal is the opposite. I believe Congress has a responsibility to review all of our laws and make adjustments as necessary in a transparent, open and deliberative manner. I would welcome the opportunity to debate these issues on the floor of the Senate, and would encourage Majority Leader Reid to schedule a full and open debate. Members of Congress and the American people have a right to know where members stand on these key policies. If members can't defend their positions, they don't deserve to be here.
"However, as we debate these measures, we first must ensure our constitutional rights and individual liberties, including the Second Amendment right to bear arms, are protected. Instead of repeating the failed policies of the past, Congress should work on thoughtful and constitutional ways to prevent unspeakable tragedies like this from happening again. The fact that almost every public mass shooting tragedy occurs in a place where guns are prohibited shows that restricting Second Amendment rights tends to disarm everyone but the assailant.
"Secondly, we must acknowledge that with rights come responsibilities. Gun owners must exercise personal responsibility and do everything in their power to prevent firearms and ammunition from falling into the wrong hands.
"Finally, policymakers in Washington should remember that the legislative process is downstream from culture. The laws we make in Washington have less impact than the movies and video games that are shaping the hearts and minds of the next generation. Special interest groups from across the spectrum -- from Hollywood to the NRA -- all have a responsibility to defend a culture of life and liberty. Still, Congress shouldn't take our cues from these groups. As elected officials, we should be beholden solely to the Constitution. Our job as it relates to interest groups is not to take instructions from them, but to give direction to them through our constitutional authority to legislate," Dr. Coburn said.