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Our focus should be on defeating terrorism, not limiting 2nd Amendment rights

The recent senseless acts of violence perpetrated across the country – from San Bernardino, California to Nice, France to Orland, Florida to Tokyo, Japan – have unified the country with a sense of urgency that something must be done.

The majority of these tragic events have been perpetrated by terrorist groups or individuals who have been radicalized by the dangerous propaganda of terrorist organizations.  Others are rooted in the challenges we face fighting poverty, combating the use of illegal drugs, and treating mental illness.

Our focus should be on addressing these issues. In the House we’ve presented a plan to fight poverty, passed a law to curb addiction, and passed legislation to reform our country’s mental health treatment system.

Unfortunately, some in Washington, DC have instead politicized these tragic events to push for gun control. Their solution to the growing threat of terrorism is to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. 

This position is not only misguided, but it also ignores the real threats we face and the facts about gun-related violence – like the fact that gun-related homicides are on the decline.

More facts on gun-related violence:

  • Firearm related homicides have declined by 50% since 1995.
  • Over 60% of firearm related deaths are suicides.
  • Fully automatic weapons are not openly available to the public.
  • The majority of rifles owned in the United States are semi-automatic, meaning the rifle is fired only once every time the trigger is pulled.
  • In 2014 more people were killed by clubs and hammers (435) or hands, feet, and fists (660) than with rifles (248).
    All stats from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)

Furthermore, we’ve seen attacks take the lives of countless people where a firearm was not involved.

Here are some examples:

  • The wife of an American professor was killed and five others injured in a knife attack in central London's Russell Square in what police Thursday called a "spontaneous" assault. (CNN; 8/3/2016)
  • At least 19 people were killed and 26 injured in a stabbing spree at a facility for disabled people west of Tokyo, making it one of Japan's deadliest mass killings since World War II. Nine men and 10 women, ranging in age from 18 to 70, were killed in the attack.” (CNN; 7/26/16)
  • On the French holiday of Bastille Day 84 people were killed, including two Americans, and 303 were hospitalized after a terrorist drove a truck through a crowded beachfront promenade in Nice, France. The attack was claimed by the terrorist organization ISIS. (BBC; 7/11/2016)
  • One American was killed and 10 other people wounded when a Palestinian terrorist went on a stabbing spree at the Jaffa Port in Tel Aviv, Israel. (JPost; 3/8/2016)
  • During the Boston Marathon of 2013, two bombs went off near the race’s finish line. The explosions killed three people and wounded 100. The attacks were carried out by the radicalized Tsarnaev brothers, who had immigrated to the United States in 2002. One brother was killed in a shootout with police, while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death on May 15, 2015. (NYTimes; 4/15/2013)
  • Two explosions in the Zaventem Airport and one in a metro station killed 32 people, including four Americans, and wounded more than 300 in Brussels, Belgium. ISIS took credit for the attacks, which was the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium’s history. (USAToday; 3/22/2016)
  • A terrorist who claimed allegiance to ISIS stabbed and murdered two police officers in front of their three year old son at their home in Paris. (France24; 6/15/2016)
  • On May 10, a man with no known motive went on a stabbing spree, killing two people and wounding two others in a Massachusetts mall and suburb before being fatally shot by an off-duty sheriff, bringing the attack to an end. (NYTimes; 5/10/2016)
  • A member of ISIS detonated a bomb in a popular tourist area of Istanbul that killed 10 people and wounded 15 others. This is only the most recent in a series of suicide bombings carried out by ISIS or ISIS sympathizers in Turkey that have killed more than 140 people in total. (The Guardian; 1/12/2016)

That’s why it is so critical for us to address the root causes of these attacks – mainly the threat Americans face at home and abroad due to the rise of radical Islamist terrorism, rather than play politics on gun control to infringe on constitutionally protected rights of law-aiding citizens.