Scott DesJarlais: We Can Protect Our Children And Our Constitution - And Response (3)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - by Rep. Scott DesJarlais

It is hard to imagine anything more horrific than the December shooting that took place in Newtown, Conn. By the end of that fateful day, we learned that 20 first-graders and six educators had been shot and killed by a deranged gunman. As a nation, we came together to pray and offer our deepest condolences to those who had lost a loved one. In the days and weeks following Sandy Hook, my office received numerous calls and letters from residents in Tennessee’s Fourth Congressional District. It was touching to read and listen to these heartfelt expressions of sympathy. 

Many of the individuals who contacted my office were concerned parents who wanted to know what we could do to ensure something like this never happens again. As a parent with three school aged children of my own, I share their concerns. Our children are our greatest treasure and should be treated as such. 

But while the overwhelming majority of parents I have spoken with recognize the need to enact sensible measures to protect our children, they are deeply concerned that this administration is using the tragedy at Sandy Hook as way to limit their Second Amendment rights.

It is not surprising that the issue of gun control has grabbed headlines, especially after President Obama tasked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a taskforce with the goal of developing a package of proposals to curb gun violence. 

Unfortunately, so far it seems that the administration is more focused on attacking our Second Amendment rights than truly addressing the underlying causes of gun violence. In fact, the president has stated on numerous occasions that he has no problem bypassing Congress through the use of executive orders to achieve his gun control objectives. 

 Lawful gun owners in my district have good reason for concern. This administration has a long track record of circumventing the Congress. The president bypassed the Senate confirmation process in appointing his “czars,” allowed the IRS to re-write portions of ObamaCare, unilaterally changed federal immigration policy and instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act. The list goes on.

If the White House feels it must resort to the use of an executive order, it would signal that the president knows that his policies cannot pass Congress. Therefore, his actions would be in clear defiance of the will of the American people and our democratic process. 

If the president seeks to violate our constitution and degrade our Second Amendment rights, I stand ready to look at any and all available legislative and legal options to protect and maintain our separation of powers. I sincerely hope that the president will abandon this autocratic approach though and instead engage in a meaningful conversation.  

I am a proud supporter of our Second Amendment and believe strongly in our right to bear arms. But I am also a parent and want to ensure that our children are kept safe. I, along with the vast majority of my constituents, do not believe these views to be mutually exclusive of one another. 

I am reminded of a statement made by former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia that, “It's not a gun control problem; it's a cultural control problem.” There are in fact real issues that Congress should address to ensure our children are protected, but infringing on our Second Amendment rights will not prevent troubled people from committing terrible acts. 

We can and must do a better job of ensuring those with mental health issues are identified and receive the support and counseling they need. That starts with making our mental health system more efficient and responsive. We can decide as a nation that we no longer want to promote a culture of violence and work with the key stakeholders to ensure our children are not being bombarded with violent imagery. Finally, we can do a better job of simply enforcing the laws that are already in existence.   

President Obama stated that Sandy Hook was the worst day of his presidency. I believe him. But that is not an excuse for the president to use executive orders to push through controversial gun control measures that run counter to the wishes of the majority of the American people. 

* * * 

Sometimes I read letters from certain individuals and I just wish I hadn't wasted my time.  Sometimes some folks should just stay quiet.  

Also, most polls taken say that the majority of folks aren't against some type of  "assault weapons" legislation.  Not something that involves blue helicopters and the U.N., as most are so quick to believe. 

Herb Montgomery
Hixson

* * * 

I notice while some people are quick to offer their dislike for an opinion article that someone else wrote, they don’t seem to be able to dispute the statements within the article. They choose rather to attack the writer. 

While I understand where and why his comments about the writer come from, I’m much more interested in the subject of the article, and how our elected officials are representing us. 

Stan Conner

* * * 

It is unfortunate that Congressman DesJarlais and many other Republicans are once again willing to stick to their partisan positions after Sandy Hook.  We certainly need to have a discourse about mental health, violent movies and violent video games.  However, the truth is that the rest of the developed world has these very same issues and yet do not have the level of gun carnage that we have in the United States. 

As a soldier and a gun owner, I also love my guns.  However, there comes a time when Congressman DesJarlais needs to put partisanship aside and do something for the good of the country.  It is time for us to institute universal background checks.  How do you even begin to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, if they can easily avoid any checks?  We also need to outlaw high capacity magazines.  It is one thing for a soldier in Iraq or Afghanistan to have a high capacity magazine, but quite another for a civilian.  Most deer hunters never fire more than one or two rounds.  I believe that the President’s proposal to limit civilian magazines to ten rounds is completely reasonable.  If you really think you need to kill something and cannot do it with 10 rounds, well then maybe you need to take up knitting. 

On the other hand, I do not agree with the assault weapons ban.  There is virtually no difference between an assault weapon and many standard rifles.  They are all semi-automatic weapons.  The real difference is in the capacity of the magazines and not the weapon itself.  Thus, my support for a limit on the capacity of magazines. 

While I am a gun owner, I have never been a member of the radical NRA.  I find it interesting that an organization which represents slightly more than 1 percent of the electorate can carry such weight on such a critical national issue.  Hopefully, Congressman DesJarlais will put aside some of his partisan rhetoric long enough to take the actions that many Americans are calling for in the wake of Sandy Hook and many other mass murders. 

Blake Baxter
Ooltewah


Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Tubman Goat-Roping

Every spring there comes a bright day on the ranch when the straw-boss decrees a goat-roping should take place. What really happens is the veteran cowboys arm the greenhorns with some lariats late in the afternoon and take them to the pen that holds some Billy goats. This is before they get into bigger beasts -- horses and cattle – yet what appears to be easy most certainly is not. ... (click for more)

Grote Hall At UTC Campus Closed Due To Sinkhole

A sinkhole has prompted UTC officials to close off access to Grote Hall. Grote Hall employees have been told they do not need to report to work on Monday. Classes that are held in Grote Hall are called off for Monday. All other classes and campus activities are on for Monday. (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The sheriff's office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

Football Mocs Receive No. 8 Seed For FCS Playoffs

The hugs, high fives and first pumps by the Tennessee at Chattanooga football players late Sunday morning let everyone know in Moc Nation that the Blue and Gold had received a highy-coveted seed and would be hosting a second round NCAA FCS playoff game Dec 6 at Finley Stadium at 1 p.m. "When the television announcers called our name as the No.8 seed (out of eight ... (click for more)

Missouri Hangs On, Turns Back Tennessee, 29-21

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Missouri pin-pricked Joshua Dobbs’ bubble of invincibility Saturday night at Neyland Stadium. The nationally ranked Tigers drove a stake in Tennessee’s heart with Maty Mauk’s 73-yard touchdown pass to Jimmie Hunt in the fourth quarter, held Dobbs in check most of the game and beat the Vols, 29-21, before 95,821 fans on a chilly night on the banks of the Tennessee ... (click for more)