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Senate Should Expand Hearing into Fort Hood Shooting

(Freedom States Alliance is pleased to post the following joint press release from Connecticut Against Gun Violence, Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence, and New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence).

This week, the Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold hearings into the recent mass shooting at Ft.Hood in Texas. A press release from Committee Chairman Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ranking Member Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) stated: “This murderous attack should be examined from every angle to make sure nothing like this occurs again.”

Connecticut Against Gun Violence (CAGV), Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence (MCAHV), and New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence (NECPGV) thank the Committee for examining this issue. The survivors of this horrific shooting and the families of those who died deserve to know if everything possible was done to prevent this shooting.

“We would also like to encourage the Homeland Security Committee to expand these hearings and look at all of the mass shootings this country has suffered in the past few years,” said Ron Pinciaro, Director of CAGV. “There is a security gap in the United States, precipitated by our lax gun laws and it is incumbent on the Committee to investigate this security gap further.”

Recent mass shootings should be examined to determine if there are common threads. For example, what role has the availability of large capacity ammunition magazines played in the ability of these shooters to inflict maximum damage in minimal time?

These large capacity ammunition magazines and clips (those holding over 10 rounds of ammunition) were banned under the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. However, that ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. Since that time large capacity clips, those holding 20, 30, 40 rounds of ammunition and more, are readily and cheaply available to anyone who wants them.

The mental health of these mass shooters should also be examined. Are mental health records transmitted to the FBI criminal background check system in a timely manner? Is the current mental health prohibition sufficient? Does it need to be expanded?

“These hearings should be expanded to include examining the ramification of a bill currently before the Senate, S. 669, sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC),” said Cathie Whittenburg, Director of NECPGV.

S. 669 seeks to restore the ability of certain veterans who have been determined “mentally incapacitated” or “deemed mentally incompetent,” by the Department of Veterans Affairs to purchase and possess firearms. “Is it wise to be making it easier for these veterans with clear, diagnosed, serious mental health issues to obtain guns?” asked Whittenburg.

Hearings should also look at the guns used in these mass shootings. The Ft. Hood shooter, Major Nidal Hasan, used an FN Five-seven semi-automatic handgun. The Five-seven, manufactured in Belgium, is an incredibly powerful handgun that is designed to fire bullets through body armor and has been described as “an assault rifle that fits in your pocket.”

“Is this the kind of gun that we want to be importing and be made readily available on the open civilian market?” said Karen D’Andrea, director of MCAHV.

The Bush Administration stopped enforcing a ban on imported assault weapons that was part of the 1968 Gun Control Act. As a result, the American market has been flooded with imported inexpensive military-style assault weapons. Homeland Security hearings should examine whether or not the Obama Administration should instruct the ATF to return to enforcement of this ban.

“We encourage the Homeland Security Committee to examine if this country is doing enough to keep dangerous guns out the hands of dangerous individuals,” said Whittenburg, “Mass shootings have become a regular occurrence in this country. This obvious security gap needs to be examined to make sure nothing like them happens again.”

The mission of Connecticut Against Gun Violence is to identify, develop, and promote passage of legislation designed to enhance gun safety. CAGV pursues this mission at the local, state of Connecticut, and national levels through the political process.

Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence works to prevent gun violence by raising public awareness and by advocating for personal responsibility, practical legislation, enforcement of laws, and increased manufacturer responsibility.

New England Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence is a region wide, non-profit organization working to prevent gun violence, deaths, and injuries through education, advocacy, and public awareness campaigns. NECPGV provides a comprehensive range of information and resources for the public, media, elected officials, and community organizations.


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