(Editor's Note: The following letter was sent by Senator Linda T. "Toddy" Puller to her constituents on Jan. 18. It is also published on her website.)
Thank you to all my constituents who have sent me emails and letters in recent weeks regarding the complex and important issue of gun control and the Second Amendment.
In light of recent tragedies, from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook strong emotions and concerns on both sides are understandable. Legitimate concern over preserving rights of gun owners, however, must be examined carefully along with the issues of mental health and protecting our children. I believe any serious legislation or debate on the issue of guns must directly address keeping firearms away from dangerous citizens and keeping everyone in our society safe and secure.
I believe in responsible gun ownership. I grew up in an Army family, married into a Marine Corps family and I have no desire to take away anyone’s Constitutional rights. In terms of legislation, I have always voted to close the “gun show loophole” as well as promoting safety and education in gun ownership, and I will continue to do so. The technology exists to make it a fairly quick and easy process for running background checks on every gun sale. There is no reason to exempt gun shows.
There is also a clear distinction between hunting and protection of one’s property and family, and the military-grade, assault weapons repeatedly used in massacres around the country that serve no purpose other than in the field of combat. Patriotic Americans desiring to handle automatic weapons should join the armed forces, an honorable act, which I have worked my whole career to support. I believe that while there are specific aspects for states to address, due to the Constitutional nature and national implications of guns and gun control, the President and Congress should take leadership on these issues. Both sides must come together and understand the positions of the other side.
Here in the Commonwealth of Virginia we have had success with Republicans and Democrats coming together under the leadership of former Governor Kaine after the Virginia Tech shootings, as well as with Project Exile under the leadership of former Governor Allen. I am looking to the President for leadership and to Congress to work with him on common sense, comprehensive solutions to protect responsible gun owners, while ending the violence in our communities.
Please continue to contact me on issues of concern. Hearing from constituents helps me better represent the people of the 36th District.
Sincerely, Senator Linda T. Puller