Meetings on Capitol Hill on May 28
We ( Judy, Adam and I ) began the day at Senator Richard Burr’s office in a meeting with Ann Woods Hawks one of his legislative counsels involved with gun control issues. Senator Burr voted against the Expanded Background Checks, ban on Assault Weapons and Restrictions on Magazine Capacity. We were able to register our strong disappointment in these votes and inquire as to the reasons behind them. Ann indicated that Senator Burr has a very deep concern for mental health issues and believed that requiring background checks, that would go on record, would prevent people from seeking mental health help. We expressed our appreciation for this insight and stated that we disagree with the conclusion that expanded background checks would be more harmful than beneficial. We asked what adjustments Senator Burr might be able to accept to pass expanded background check legislation and Ann referred us to Anna Abram, Health Policy Director for Senator Burr and Margaret Coulter, Health Policy Assistant for Senator Burr. We will contact them and express our desire to obtain common sense expanded background check legislation. We asked Ann to encourage Senator Burr to reconsider his position when 90 % of Americans, including gun owners, support expanded background checks. We also requested that Senator Burr study the most recent gun legislation passed by the state of Connecticut which represents a responsible, reasonable, common sense approach to gun violence prevention. Adam commented that Senator Burr should consider supporting this type of common sense legislation now before a tragedy happens in North Carolina that prompts such action as it has in many other states. We expressed our appreciation for the dialogue and Ann indicated that Senator Burr would be informed of our visit and comments. Ann indicated that Senator Burr’s strong belief in the 2nd amendment resulted in his voting against banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacities. She stated people have the right to bear arms and defend themselves. We agreed but inquired how much firepower do they need to accomplish this. She commented that definitions are very important on this issue.
Our next meeting was at Senator Kay Hagan’s office with Margaret Lawrynowicz, legislative assistant for Senator Hagan on firearm issues and Travis Cooke, legislative correspondent for Senator Hagan. Senator Hagan voted for the expanded background checks and against banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacities. Margaret said Senator Hagan supported the expanded background checks legislation because it seemed to be common sense to have background checks on all gun sales not just some. Margaret indicated Senator Hagan’s vote against banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacities was due to her belief in the 2nd amendment and the right for all citizens to bear arms and defend themselves. She further stated that Senator Hagan believes the bill that failed was too broad and needed to be more narrowly defined to gain enough traction to pass regarding assault weapons specifically. When asked what could be done to assist passing common sense, responsible gun violence prevention legislation Margaret said that the most important issue is education. People need to understand what is actually in the proposed legislation and know that it will not be taking away their weapons or preventing them from defending themselves. We expressed our appreciation for their time and the discussion and asked them to encourage Senator Hagan to reconsider her position on banning assault weapons and limiting magazine capacites. We also made clear how grateful we are for Senator Hagan’s courage in voting for the expanded background checks.
Our last stop was at Representative Mike McIntyre’s office to encourage him to sponsor the HR 1565. Although he was not there, Andrew Simpson, legislative correspondent / N.C. Executive Assistant, was and made note of our request. Andrew was very gracious since we did not have an appointment and gave us a tour of Representative McIntyre’s office and said he would be sure to pass on our request to Representative McIntyre.
We had accomplished the march and spoken with our elected representatives offices to make our voices heard. It was an amazing morning and we were all very impressed with the process involved in approaching and trying to influence our elected officials. We left Washington, D. C. with the definite feeling that with all its faults, we are very proud to be citizens of the United States of America.