This is an opinion piece by Randy Bryce, U.S. Army veteran, cancer survivor, and union ironworker running for Congress to replace Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st District.
Dear Speaker Paul Ryan,
After 17 children and educators were murdered with an assault rifle in Parkland last month, you said that we shouldn’t “rush” to have a conversation about gun reform--in fact you've said that almost every time a mass shooting taking countless innocent lives has occurred across our country.
So when should we have that conversation, Mr. Speaker? Next week? Next month? How about the month after that? Because I’m the father of an 11 year-old-boy in public school in your district, and I’m ready, now.
And let’s be clear, this “school safety package” that you’re introducing this week does not even begin to start a real conversation about gun reform in this country. However, it does says that you are more inclined to listen to the NRA than 97 percent of the American people who support background checks. It says that you will continue to accept more money from the NRA than any other House member, while insisting that the media and others are using their influence to over-exaggerate the situation. It says that you believe the appropriate response to the slaughter of 17 children and teachers is closer in line with arming teachers than common sense gun reform.
When you refuse to introduce a bill that would truly accomplish common sense gun reform - you’re not looking out for us - you’re looking to protect a lobby that helps fund your campaign.
Now, your funders at the NRA say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. But my dad was a cop. And he knew quite a few guys who did rush in to take down the bad guys. Some of them didn’t make it home at the end of the night. And you know what could have helped to stop that? A legislator with a pen and some common sense.
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I’ve also heard you defend your inaction by claiming to protect constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. I have a great deal of respect for our Constitution — that’s why I enlisted in the Army to defend it. But, as an 18-year-old private, I had to go through hundreds of hours of training before someone sent me off with an assault rifle. So I don’t think it infringes on anyone’s rights to ask them to wait a day or two to run a background check.
I’m also going to take the advice of that brave young woman in Parkland and call B.S. on the whole idea that you’re even looking out for gun owners. I am a gun owner. I, and more than 95 percent of my fellow gun owners support background checks. So when you refuse to introduce a bill that would truly accomplish common sense gun reform - you’re not looking out for us - you’re looking to protect a lobby that helps fund your campaign.
This “school safety package” that you’re introducing this week does not even begin to start a real conversation about gun reform in this country.
I’ve been your constituent for every one of your twenty years in office, so I know better than to expect a reply to this letter. But since you don’t do town halls anymore, I needed to find a way to let you know, the parents and the students in your district are scared, Speaker Ryan, and we need more than your thoughts and prayers.
We need you to listen to what 97 percent of this country, including gun owners, want, and for you to do your job.