Question to Michigan Congressional Legislators:
Do you receive political contributions from the NRA?
Thank you letters were sent to Elected Official Responders below:
Sen. Gary Peters (D), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), Rep. Justin Amash (L), Rep. Dan Benishek, (D) Rep. Mike Bishop (R), Rep. Debbie Dingell (D), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R), Rep. Dan Kildee (D), Rep. Candice Miller (R), Rep. John Moolenaar (R)
Third Sendings were sent to Elected Official Non-Responders below:
Rep. John Conyers (D), Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D), Rep. Sander Levin (D),
Rep. Dave Trott (R), Fred Upton (R), Rep. Tim Walberg (R)
The MceZ Core Principle for September is Intellectual Diversity
September 19, 2016
Subject: Gun Control Bills, NRA Political Contributions and Representative Democracy
Dear Senator ____________,
Thank you for taking the time to respond on September 15, 2016 to our letter of June 23, 2016 attached below. We appreciate hearing from you and look forward to staying in contact with you.
Improving the Quality of the Debate
www.MceZ.org MceZ Policy and Disclaimer Statement
Original and Third sending Letter:
The MceZ Core Principle for July is INNOVATION
Third Sending: July 29, 2016
Second Sending: July 21, 2016
The MceZ Core Principle for June is FREEDOM
June 23, 2016
Subject: Gun Control Bills, NRA Political Contributions and Representative Democracy
On June 22 and 23, 2016, the House Democrats staged an unprecedented 25 hour Sit In to compel the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, to bring to the floor a vote on No Fly-No Buy and Expanded Background checks for gun purchases. One of the reasons given as to why Republicans do not want to vote on these bills is because they receive political contributions from the NRA. On June 23, the House adjourned for recess until July 6 without acting or voting on these bills.
Our question to you is:
Do you receive political contributions from the NRA?If we have not received a response by June 30, we will contact you again. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Improving the Quality of the Debate
From Senator Gary Peters
August 17, 2016
Dear Ms. Beck,
Thank you for contacting me about gun safety legislation. I appreciate you taking the time to express your views. Your input is, and will always be, welcomed and appreciated.
As a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, trained marksman, and gun owner, I understand the unique place firearms hold in American heritage and history. Our government will not, and should not, take guns away from responsible gun owners, but we must do more to reduce gun-related violence and implement common sense measures to protect public safety and prevent future tragedies. To make progress on keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, we must work together to find common sense solutions.
I support sensible measures to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing guns and to expand background checks for those buying weapons from private sellers at gun shows or over the internet. I have consistently supported fully funding and implementing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the filter put in place by Congress to prevent prohibited individuals such as criminals and the mentally ill from easily obtaining guns. Individuals convicted of domestic violence offenses, people with court-order restraints related to stalking, and convicted felons are already barred under federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms, and this is enforced through background checks. I will continue to support increased funding of the NICS to ensure the safety and security of Americans.
The NICS system can only be effective if it is fully put to use. Currently, many gun sales are not subject to background checks, including those at gun shows and between private sellers. Any changes to the laws governing the sale and ownership of firearms must be weighed carefully, and we must provide law enforcement with the resources to effectively enforce existing firearm laws. I believe expanding background checks is a necessary step in preventing dangerous individuals from purchasing guns. On June 20, 2016, I voted to support an amendment by Senator Chris Murphy that would set up procedures for improving NICS and require background checks for gun sales between private sellers. This amendment failed to advance in the Senate.
We must also work together to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists. That is why I support closing the “terror gap” to prevent individuals on terrorist watch lists from purchasing firearms. As a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, I am committed to keeping Americans safe from threats at home and abroad. This includes combating terrorism overseas along with our allies and supporting vigilant law enforcement here at home. On June 20, 2016, I voted to support an amendment by Senator Dianne Feinstein that would allow the U.S. Attorney General to be notified of and stop the sale of a gun to an individual who has engaged in preparing for or assisting an act of terrorism. Commonsense measures like closing the terror gap and improving background checks will help us enforce existing laws and keep lawful guns away from dangerous criminals.
In addition to these sensible measures, I believe we must improve school safety, gain a better understanding of the relationship between media violence and gun violence, and increase access to mental health services. Thankfully, health care reform is expanding access to mental health services to millions of Americans, which can help avert the type of violence we've seen in recent years.
Although we will never be able to stop every single act of violence, I genuinely believe these measures will help save lives. I will do everything possible to support sensible legislation that will reduce gun violence while respecting the rights of lawful gun owners. Thank you again for contacting me. I always enjoy hearing from you and hope that you take the time to contact me again soon. For more information, please feel free to visit my website, http://www.peters.senate.gov.
Gary C. Peters
United States Senator
From Senator Debbie Stabenow
Sep 15, 2016
Thank you for contacting me about improving gun safety measures and the safety of our communities. I share your frustration and grief over the tragic number of lives lost due to gun violence in our country.
As your Senator, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen our gun safety laws. This means common-sense measures such as preventing terrorists from purchasing guns and closing existing loopholes. In addition, I support expanding background checks, funding gun violence research, and tightening the definition of a gun show to prohibit back-door purchases and prevent individuals trying to avoid a background check from buying guns. We must also ban the import of large-capacity ammunition clips and require child safety devices for all handguns.
I will continue to work with my colleagues to find solutions to reducing the number of lives lost in devastating incidents of gun violence in the United States. These solutions will not be easy, but one thing should be clear – complacency and inaction until the next attack is not an option.
Thank you again for contacting me. Please don't hesitate to contact me whenever I may be of assistance.
United States Senator
Rep. Justin Amash
June 24, 2016
Thank you for contacting my office. I appreciate hearing from you.
The United States House of Representatives Code of Official Conduct and House Ethics Rules prohibit me from using my legislative resources to engage in any type of political activity. I may not use my legislative office to respond to any inquiry of a political or campaign-related nature.
I encourage you to contact my legislative office with any legislative issues or problems with a federal government agency, and my staff and I will be happy to assist you. Because your message addressed campaign or political issues, I am forwarding your message to my campaign committee.
Thank you again for contacting me, and please feel free to contact my office if I can be of further assistance.
United States Representative
Third District of Michigan
From Rep. Dan Banishek
June 24, 2016
Dear Eunice Beck,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding gun control and the recent shooting in Orlando, Florida. As your elected representative, I appreciate the opportunity to learn your views as they help me to better represent you and Michigan’s First District.
On June 11, 2016, our entire nation was shaken by the tragic attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This was a horrific event, and I extend my condolences to the families and friends of the victims. It is clear that the shooter was motivated by hate and a warped view of the world, and it is clear that we need to take many lessons from this tragedy.
Understandably, this terrible event has sparked a national dialogue about whether there are steps we can take to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again. I do not pretend to have all the answers, but I believe that at its core the problem is not the absence of law, but a lack of respect for human life and human dignity.
The perpetrator of this attack was obviously motivated by a hateful ideology, and an intent to inflict terror. We need to find a way to combat this ideology and prevent future attacks. In my opinion, additional new gun control measures, as some are calling for, will have little impact on the ability of criminals to obtain firearms. Our focus needs to be on combating terrorism and the terrorists that want to cause us harm.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me, I serve you and I want to hear what you have to say. It is my hope that you will continue to communicate with me in the future on the issues that matter to you and your family. Please feel free to contact me by calling me at 202-225-4735 or by sending me an email at www.benishek.house.gov.
From Rep. Mike Bishop
August 2, 2016
Dear Mrs. Beck:
Thank you for contacting me regarding gun-related violence and your thoughts on gun control. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
As a father of three, my heart goes out to all of those affected by senseless violence. Such violence leaves victims, along with their friends and families, to cope with an unfathomable loss of life. With that said, I have received correspondence from hundreds of constituents, including you, relating to recent attacks and mass shootings, and I would like to take this opportunity to address a number of the concerns that have been expressed.
On the issue of background checks, you may know that they are required for the purchase of any firearm from any federally licensed firearms dealer. When this background check is preformed, there are ten criteria that will result in a "red flag," or an automatic denial of the firearm sale. These criteria include illegal presence in the United States, prior conviction of a felony, gun related misdemeanors, record of domestic violence, record of mental health issues or substance abuse issues, among others. Importantly, what these criteria all have in common is that they are based on past events, charges, or convictions. Because Omar Mateen, the shooter at the Florida nightclub, did not have any of these factors in his past, he was not automatically barred by the background check system currently in place.
There are also instances when a background check will return a "yellow flag," or a cautionary warning. This happens when an individual is currently under investigation or is on a watch list. In this scenario, the gun sale is allowed to take place, but law enforcement has a 90 day window to bring charges, which (if convicted) would then disqualify the individual from owning a firearm. While it is true that Omar Mateen had been investigated for terrorist activity prior to this attack, that investigation had been closed and he was not under investigation when he purchased the firearms.
As a result, when Mateen went to purchase the firearms he used to carry out his terror attack, the background check system missed him entirely. As a member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, and specifically the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, I am working closely with my colleagues and the FBI to address how we can prevent a similar failure in the future.
Please know that I have always, and will continue to, fully support background checks for firearm purchases. This issue, however, is not as simple as just performing background checks. While there was an active investigation into Mateen, law enforcement would have been notified if he had attempted to purchase a firearm. But when the investigation was closed with no charges, he was removed from the watch list because, as a citizen born in the United States, that is what the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution required.
We cannot simply strip citizens of constitutionally protected rights without due process. Due process is the cornerstone of the rule of law and it is not lightly discarded. It is what our Founders fought and died for and it is what prevents American citizens from being imprisoned indefinitely or without cause. Our challenge now is to balance due process with the legitimate and compelling needs of protecting the Nation.
Many have also argued that banning assault weapons would, or could, have prevented many of these recent tragedies. In this case the rifle Mateen used in his attack does not fall into the assault weapons category. A larger problem, however, is regulations on the types of firearms that can be bought and sold, is historically the province of the states. Anyone who has purchased a firearm or has obtained a concealed carry permit knows that they have to go to the Sherriff's office or the local courthouse to register the firearm or get the permit. This is because regulating guns is a part of the police power, reserved to the states.
For example, seven states and the District of Columbia currently have assault weapons bans. Every state has different restrictions or procedures for allowing open carry and concealed carry. While there are federal laws on who may purchase and the background check system, as a strong supporter of the Tenth Amendment and a former state legislator, I have great reservation in usurping states' police powers.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me and share your thoughts with me on this issue. Rest assured, as your Representative in Congress and as a father of three, the safety of our Nation is my top priority. I am committed to working with any and all of my colleagues to engage in serious and substantive debate to address the recent instances of violence. In doing so, we must respond as one Nation and as Americans, not as fragmented groups, divided and isolated by 'identity politics'. As Congress continues to consider this public policy, please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind and share them with my legislative colleagues.
Please feel free to contact me in the future should you have additional questions or concerns. In the meantime, my continuing best regards to you and your family.
Michael D. Bishop
Member of Congress
From Rep. Debbie Dingell
July 10, 2016
Thank you for contacting me regarding potential gun legislation. Your thoughts on this matter are important.
The Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, and we must work to ensure that this is protected for law-abiding Americans while ensuring the safety of our communities and the public. In the aftermath of several mass shootings, these issues have emerged as some of the most complicated ones facing our country, and I believe we must work across the aisle to have honest and non-political discussions to address these serious issues.
In doing so, we must act in a way that respects the Second Amendment and our nation's strong tradition of gun ownership. Proposals to expand background checks for firearms purchases, as well as to improve mental health care, have been widely discussed as methods to combat gun violence and may create widespread political agreement without unnecessarily infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens. Because of my own life experiences, I understand the need to work with my colleagues in a bi-partisan manner to protect the Second Amendment and reduce gun violence in America. I do know we must find a way to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illness and ensure that current laws like background checks are fully funded. These issues are tough, but that shouldn't stop dialogue.
Again, thank you for contacting my office. If you are interested in regular updates on current legislation or issues of the day, you can visit my website at www.debbiedingell.house.gov and sign up for my newsletter. You can also find me on Twitter at @RepDebDingell and on Facebook. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on interests of concern.
Member of Congress
From Rep. Bill Huizenga
Congressman Bill Huizenga
August 15, 2016
Dear Ms. Beck:
Thank you for contacting me to share your support for more gun control. I appreciate hearing from you.
Like you, my heart goes out to those who have been impacted by violent crimes. Criminals that abuse firearms should be prosecuted to the fullest extent; however, we must be careful not to sacrifice the Constitutional freedoms of honest, law abiding citizens. I stand behind our Constitution and the fundamental right “to keep and bear Arms” afforded by the Second Amendment. The right to bear arms, like all rights our Constitution reserves to the people, will be abused from time to time. The best response is to prosecute the individual responsible instead of the fundamental right itself.
I support responsible gun ownership. In addition, I have been a sportsman for most of my life and am well aware of our rights and duties relative to firearms. While the rights to both own a weapon and to defend one’s self, one’s family, and one’s property are clear and unambiguous, we must ensure that those who own guns learn how to use them safely and understand the circumstances when they can be used.
While I appreciate your sharing your thoughts with me, I am committed to being an advocate for Second Amendment rights and responsible gun ownership. Again, thank you for contacting me.
Member of Congress
From Rep. Dan Kildee
July 8, 2016
Dear Ms. Beck,
As a Member of Congress, I have a solemn duty to uphold the Constitution and I will always be a defender of the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment. Hunting and shooting sports are an important part of Michigan’s culture and tradition, and I strongly support the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms for these purposes as well as to protect their families and homes from danger.
We can all agree that gun violence remains a pervasive problem in our communities, whether in the acts of mass violence occurring more and more often or the shootings occurring in Mid-Michigan. According to the Flint Police, in 2015 alone, 48 people were murdered in the city of Flint. Horrific mass shootings in San Bernardino, Calif. and Orlando, Fla. have joined too-familiar names such as Newtown, Conn., Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz. and countless other places around our country. We must do everything in our power to prevent these senseless tragedies.
First and foremost, I believe we must strictly enforce federal gun laws that are already in place. The Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act requires any person purchasing a firearm from a Federal Firearm Licensed (FFL) dealer to submit to a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This was established to prevent felons, individuals with prior domestic abuse convictions and other dangerous people from purchasing firearms.
However, a loophole in the Brady Act allows for non-licensed sellers to conduct private sales – including over the Internet – to a buyer without being subject to a background check. The original intent of the private seller loophole was for persons who are not FFL’s to occasionally make sales to individuals within their state. Unfortunately, this loophole in the Brady Act has undermined the effectiveness of the NICS, with an estimated 40 percent of all gun sales conducted through private sales without a background check. I support eliminating this loophole in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who are a danger to themselves or others.
For these reasons, I cosponsored H.R. 1217 and H.R. 3051, two bills that would improve the system of background checks by covering all commercial firearm sales and requiring a background check to be completed prior to the sale of a firearm.
I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 1076, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2015, which would prevent people on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Terror Watch List from buying a gun. An overwhelming majority of Americans support universal background checks and keeping guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists. I have repeatedly urged Congress to bring these bills to the floor, in order to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous people.
In the future, please do not hesitate to contact me about any issue. It’s important for me to hear your views so that I can best represent you and the Fifth Congressional District.
I hope you stay in contact with me by visiting my congressional website at www.dankildee.house.gov and signing up for my email newsletter. You can also connect with me on Facebook (Congressman Dan Kildee) or follow me on Twitter(@RepDanKildee).
MEMBER OF CONGRESS
From Rep. Candice Miller
July 26, 2016
Dear Ms. Eunice Beck,
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about gun control legislation. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue, and I am pleased to have the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
As you may know, Democrats in the United States Congress are calling for increased gun control legislation in order to address the issue of gun violence in the United States. While I support commonsense gun legislation, I do not consider the availability of firearms to be the root cause of gun violence. In addition, I do not believe further regulations on guns will solve the issues of gun violence and mass shootings.
The murder of innocent people during recent mass shootings and the domestic terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida were heinous acts that demand action to better protect our children and our communities. However, I do not believe further regulations on the availability of firearms would have prevented such attacks, nor will they prevent potential future attacks. It is unfortunate that many Democrats in Congress are focusing far too much on the method used, instead of the root cause of why it happened. The vast majority of firearm owners in America are law-abiding citizens simply exercising the right of self-defense for themselves and their families guaranteed by the Second Amendment of our Constitution.
Criminals and terrorists, by their very definition, do not care what the law states. Therefore, the only people impacted by stricter gun laws are those who seek to obey the law, not violent criminals or terrorists. In fact, there are already numerous laws in this nation protecting against the unlawful use of firearms that are simply not enforced.
The gun violence that has occurred in our country recently raises many concerns about our mental healthcare system. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 45.9 million American adults aged 18 or older - 20 percent of the age group - experienced some form of mental illness in 2014. Of those diagnosable, only 4 in 10 received mental health services during that period to help address the problem. An additional 1.9 million youth aged 12 to 17 also experienced a major depressive episode during the same period.
With the high number of individuals affected by mental health issues, it is important to strengthen the capacity of communities to better identify and assist the needs of those suffering. It is also important to improve the dissemination of information on mental health, so as to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and encourage people to seek help when necessary. Currently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the country has 156,300 mental health counselors, meaning nearly 90 million Americans live in federal-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, compared to 55 million Americans living in similarly-designated primary-care shortage areas.
Since the 1960s, in-patient treatment spending has drastically declined as states moved away from institutionalization for the mentally ill. At the same time, the cost of mental healthcare has continued to increase, making it more difficult for individuals to seek assistance. By widening access and lowering the cost of services, professionals will have the ability to focus on early intervention and provide care before tragedies occur. In short, a thorough review of our nation's mental health system and moving forward with solutions must be a top priority.
This is why I proudly cosponsored and voted for H.R. 2646, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2015, which was introduced by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) on July 6, 2015. This legislation is designed to overhaul the federal government’s approach to mental health, which is currently a chaotic patchwork of antiquated programs and ineffective policies spread across numerous agencies. Unfortunately, patients end up in the criminal justice system or on the streets because services are not available. The program is designed to fix the nation’s broken mental health system by focusing programs and resources on psychiatric care for patients and families most in need of such services. H.R. 2646 passed in the House by a vote of 422-2 on July 6, 2016 and currently awaits consideration in the Senate.
Addressing the violence in our nation is a complex process. There are no simple answers, and no one new mandate that can fully meet this challenge. Instead, it will take a concerted bipartisan effort to tackle these serious issues. Therefore, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House on legislation that is designed to provide greater assistance to the mentally ill, and protect our communities from criminals without diminishing the constitutional right of law-abiding citizens.
Again, thank you for your correspondence. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office. If you would like to stay up to date on the issues in Congress and how they affect you, please sign up to receive my e-newsletter, The Washington Connection, at candicemiller.house.gov. It has all of the information you need about current events in our nation's capital and their impact on Michigan's 10th Congressional District.
MEMBER OF CONGRESS
P.S. It is my sincere honor to represent you in Congress. My principal focus is making sure that we are addressing job creation and the economy, protecting our freedoms and expanding liberty. Thank you for taking the time to provide me with your input on helping to make our district and our nation stronger for the next generation.
From Rep. John Moolenaar
August 1, 2016
Thank you for contacting my office regarding your support for gun control. As always, I welcome your input.
As you may know, there have been a number of legislative proposals introduced in the 114th Congress to curb gun violence. Such proposals include placing restrictions on guns and ammunition, increased background checks and improved access to mental health services.
I believe it is imperative to have an open dialogue about recent gun-related violence and how to further prevent it. It is also imperative that we strengthen the ties that bind the family, school and community. In my view, a commonsense approach can be found that helps keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and others posing serious danger, while protecting legal firearm ownership. As the House of Representatives continues to discuss ways to curb gun violence, especially in schools, I will certainly keep your views in mind.
Again, thank you for your correspondence. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any future questions or comments.
Member of Congress