The issue of Second Amendment affects all of us and dealing with it is an important part of my work in Congress.
I believe the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees law-abiding citizens the right to own and bear arms. The amendment does not restrict the use of certain arms, magazines, or clips; rather it is broad in its scope – if you do not misuse your right to the weapon, you do not have to be monitored or restricted by the government. I have always supported this Constitutional right, and I will continue to do so as long as I am privileged to serve in the House of Representatives.
My state suffered a horrible tragedy in January 2011 when my colleague and friend Gabrielle Giffords was shot through the head by a deplorable madman on his rampage. Many people in the media and throughout the country immediately ran to call for stricter gun laws – especially for the cessation of larger gun magazines (like the one the Tucson shooter had that morning). All of these people missed the point entirely: the people behind gun tragedies should be held responsible for their reprehensible actions. The rest of the law-abiding citizens should not have to have more of their liberties taken away from them due to a madman’s assault on human lives. We should attempt to detect these mentally unstable individuals at an earlier time with hopes of keeping weapons out of their hands, but that should be the extent of further government interference.
It is not government’s place to meddle and handicap law-abiding citizens – especially in an area where the Constitution has already explicitly made its case. More citizens should even be encouraged to own weapons and to become more proficient in the weapons they own. Criminals have always preferred and will continue to prefer unarmed victims. Prison surveys indicate when a criminal considers breaking into a home, the greatest deterrent, in his mind, is the fear that his intended victims might be armed. Members of the government should not fear an armed citizenry for this reason.
I am in full agreement when it comes to establishing a national standard which would allow people who already possess concealed weapon permits to carry their firearms across state lines. There are too many conflicting laws from state to state, where a law-abiding citizen in one state can be made out to be a criminal in another state. I do not believe that law abiding citizens should be discouraged from leaving their firearms behind when they cross into another state.
I support the right of law abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms into National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Congress should encourage citizens to carry out their Constitutional rights - not stand by and have the rights chipped away. This is no less the case in this area.
With all of these rights, there is a responsibility to know how to properly and safely use a firearm. Many well-meaning citizens should not possess a firearm unless they first know how to operate the firearm. I am a strong proponent of requiring that all gun owners be trained in the firearms in their possession. I do not believe this practice lends an undue government burden to citizens; rather it informs them of safe gun handling, which is necessary to refrain from needlessly infringing on another's safety.