Veterans say it is 'painful and tragic' to 'return home and confront a country torn by hate and awash in unregulated guns.'
On Monday, several former generals and other high-ranking veterans sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer demanding action on commonsense gun safety legislation.
"It is painful and tragic to fight for our security abroad only to return home and confront a country torn by hate and awash in unregulated guns," the letter, sent by the Veterans Coalition of Giffords, a gun safety advocacy organization, states.
"We write to you today to ask that you take these security threats to our nation seriously, and advance commonsense gun safety legislation, like H.R. 8, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act. You have the power to condemn the violent, hateful rhetoric taking root in communities across the country, and to take action to address it."
The House passed H.R. 8 in February, and McConnell has refused to bring the bill up for a vote for 173 days.
"Our brave men and women in uniform put their lives on the line to protect our country," Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA) told Shareblue Media. "Background checks and commonsense gun laws can save American lives, and I stand with these veterans who continue their fight to make America a safer and more secure nation." McBath lost her son to gun violence and is one of the most vocal supporters of gun safety legislation in Congress.
Another leading gun safety advocate in the House expressed frustration at McConnell's lengthy delay.
"It is insulting that Mitch McConnell continues to downplay the severity of gun violence in the United States by refusing to call a vote on H.R. 8," Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) told Shareblue. "Our new Democratic majority took swift action in February to pass bipartisan, commonsense gun reform that not only would save lives, but also has the support of more than 90% of Americans. I don't want to wait to see how many more lives must be lost before Mitch McConnell climbs out of the NRA's pocket and starts to take this seriously — the Senate must act now."
Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, has repeatedly voiced support for the measure but does not have the power to force a vote on the issue.
The gun safety issue was thrust back into the spotlight earlier in August when a pair of mass shooting events devastated the communities of El Paso and Dayton.
"This month's shootings served as a stark reminder of how this crisis is ravaging the country," the letter states. "A killer fueled by hate and racism took the lives of 22 people and injured dozens in El Paso, Texas, while just 13 hours later, another senselessly murdered nine more and injured 26 in Dayton, Ohio."
The letter notes that 100 people die in American from gun violence every day, adding, "yet for far too long, calls from a majority of Americans to pass commonsense gun laws have been met with indifference from our leaders."
A recent Fox News poll showed 90% of voters support background checks for gun purchases, including 89% of Republicans, and 93% of gun owners.
The House of Representatives has passed two bills to address gun violence, including the background check legislation mentioned by the veterans. Further, the House Judiciary Committee is returning early from their August break to consider additional measures to help prevent further gun violence.
Meanwhile, McConnell has thus far resisted calls to end his August vacation early and address the gun violence epidemic in the country. And the bills the House passed to address the issue sit collecting dust on his desk — for 173 days and counting.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.