By: Mayor Carlo DeMaria
As mayor of the City of Everett, I take the responsibilities of public office as my solemn duty and privilege. I know that this is true of mayors in cities around the country as well as for members of Congress. And yet, this Monday, the United States Senate voted to block gun control measures, even after last week’s shooting at an Orlando nightclub.
The core of our responsibility as public servants is to keep our residents safe and to lessen their risk of harm. We all grieve together at the truly devastating and senseless loss of human life that has occurred in mass shooting incidents in Orlando, San Bernadino, Chattanooga, Charleston and Fort Hood, among so many others. But as we grieve, we must also examine our federal policies around terrorist access to guns.
The hard truth of these tragedies is that we could have done so much more to prevent them. As it stands, there is nothing to prevent an individual on the FBI’s domestic or international terrorism watch list from purchasing a high-powered military-style assault weapon. If someone is deemed by the FBI as a terror risk and is not allowed to board an airplane, it simply follows that they should not be allowed to purchase an AK-47.
Bi-partisan bills introduced in Congress by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, would have closed the terror gap by allowing the federal Department of Justice to block gun sales to suspected terrorists, while preserving their rights to due process.
Legislation like the Feinstein/King bill was not a threat to the fundamental second amendment right of our law-abiding citizens to bear arms – a right that I firmly support. I call upon all members of Congress to pass gun control legislation that does not infringe on our rights, but instead advances our collective duty as public servants to protect our citizens. There should be no confusion on this matter – a vote against such legislation and parliamentary maneuvers to keep gun control bills from coming to a vote are not in the interest of the American people.
In Massachusetts, we have a congressional delegation that takes the lead on voting to protect our residents through their support of sensible gun legislation. Even though the Senate failed to support gun control measures after last week’s massacre, I urge members of Congress across the country to revisit this issue. For those who might be reluctant to vote on any legislation related to guns, I ask them to carefully consider their privilege and responsibility to protect our country.