An Open Letter to my Elected Officials Regarding the Shootings in Newtown, Connecticut

Colorado State Representative Dave Young
Colorado State Representative Steve Humphrey
Colorado State Senator Scott Renfroe
Colorado State Senator Glenn Vaad
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper

U.S. Representative Cory Gardner
U.S. Representative Jared Polis
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
U.S. Senator Mark Udall
President Barack Obama

My name is Richard Reilly.  I live in Greeley, Colorado.

The shooting in Aurora Colorado changed me.  I was too young to fully understand the events of Columbine.  Now, at the age of 23, I understand these events (to the extent that they can be understood).  I cried as I watched the news stream in from Aurora.  I went to the memorial service to try to understand and help.  Although I don’t believe I gained much clarity, I am glad I went.

Now, as I watch the events unfold in Connecticut, I feel it again.  An intense aching.  Although it is further away this time, it is a stronger feeling.  Double the victims.  Kindergarteners.  I don’t believe I can truly comprehend what happened.  All I know is that I don’t want it to happen again.  Ever.  I am writing to you today because you are the people who have the power to make the changes necessary.

After Tuscon, no legislation was passed.  After Aurora, no legislation was passed.  I cannot accept this trend anymore.  I need you to do something.  Any small change. There have been dozens of mass shootings over the past two decades.  From the numbers I see, a vast majority of shooters obtained their guns legally.  A vast majority of the weapons used were semi-automatic. (link)  When I look at these numbers I can’t help but realize one thing: a vast number of the shooters never broke a law until they pulled the trigger.

We need to change that.

One month from today, I leave for the Peace Corps in Morocco.  I will be gone for 27 months.  I know change takes time in America, but 27 months should be more than enough.  I need change.  I need to come back to a country where the laws reflect how deeply these events affect all of us.  I know that making these changes will infuriate certain groups.  To that I have to tell you: I do not care.  The lives of 20 kindergarteners means infinitely more than the anger of the NRA.  They will do everything to take you from power.  They will accuse you of taking their guns.  But you do not work for them.  You work for us.  You work for those killed.  You work for those who will be killed if you do nothing.

There is plenty to be done:

  1. First and foremost: Ban semi-automatic weapons.  There is no logical need for them outside of mass murder.
  2. Not enough is done to address the mental health crisis in this country.  Extend healthcare rights to truly help those with mental health problems.
  3. Ban extended clips (remember Tucson).
  4. Close the loophole that allows almost anyone to buy at a gun show.
  5. Increase restrictions on buying guns if you have a recorded history of mental illness.
  6. Start a serial-number like tracking system for bullets.

I will be back in March 2015.  I will be voting in every election while away and when I return.  I need you to know that I will do everything in my power to support those of you who change legislation on gun ownership in our state and our country.  If you block this legislation, I will do everything in my power to make sure you never serve my state or my country again.  As for those of you who want to do nothing…again.  I will think of you as cowards who are watching your people die in vain.  I will actively work to make sure you never get elected again.

But that is not why you should act.  I don’t want to appeal to your position.  I want to appeal to you as a person.  I am a future father.  I have to tell you how difficult it is to imagine bringing a child into this country.  I will do everything in my power to keep my future children safe.   I need to know that my elected officials are doing everything in their power to keep all of our children safe.

I hope you get more letters.  I hope you take action.  I hope I can count on you making this country and state a better place while I am doing my best to make this world a better a better place.  This is your job.  Do not delay.  Inaction is our biggest fault.

Richard Thomas Reilly
Greeley, Colorado

6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to my Elected Officials Regarding the Shootings in Newtown, Connecticut

  1. Pingback: Reacting to Shootings in Newtown, Connecticut | Richard T. Reilly

  2. Pingback: Gun Control & Mental Health | Richard T. Reilly

  3. “Weapons compound man’s power to achieve; they amplify the capabilities of both the good man and the bad, and to exactly the same degree, having no will of their own. Thus we must regard them as servants, not masters – and good servants to good men. Without them, man is diminished, and his opportunities to fulfill his destiny are lessened. An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.” — Col. Jeff Cooper

    • I like the quote. I do, however, believe it impossible for severely destructive weapons to be used for good. Semi-automatics and extended magazines are used for bad reasons. There is no reason they should be produced. Much less bought.

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