WASHINGTON—Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) was in Washington, D.C., Monday to meet with Vice President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of representatives in a final round of meetings before presenting recommendations for gun law reform to the president.
Thompson is a gun owner and keen duck hunter. On Dec. 14, 2012, the day of the fatal shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he was in the marshes of Napa County, Calif., hunting duck.
For Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, the irony of that juxtaposition is palpable: federal law requires that duck shooters have only three shells in their guns when duck hunting.
“So federal law provides more protection for the ducks than for our citizens,” Thompson told a forum on preventing gun violence at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress in Washington.
The meetings took place as parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook shooting gathered in Newtown one month to the day of the tragedy.
The parents called for national conversation on ways to reduce gun violence.
“I do not want to be someone sharing my experience and consoling another parent next time,” said Nicole Hockley, parent to son Dylan, 1 of 20 first-graders killed by a lone gunman at the school. “I do not want there to be a next time.”
Members of a newly formed nonprofit organization, Sandy Hook Promise, said that they would promote more discussion on a range of issues including guns, school safety, and mental health.
“We want the Sandy Hook school shootings to be recalled as the turning point where we brought our community and communities across the nation together and set a real course for change,” said the group’s co-founder, Tom Bittman, according to the Huffington Post.
Reform is Challenging
The Obama administration is gearing up for a fight with the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) and pro-gun lobbyists, as support swells for gun reform following the Newtown shooting.
Pro-gun supporters become cagey when restriction on gun ownership is discussed. They argue that gun law reform will not stop shootings and that it instead threatens the rights outlined in the Second Amendment. As it stands, the Second Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to have a firearm in the home for self-defense purposes.
“We are mobilizing for a fight,” NRA President David Keene told CNN.
As a participant in the many meetings and as part of the House task force, Thompson believes that there are changes that can and should be made. Comprehensive background checks, increased policing, prosecution according to existing laws, restricting assault weapons and magazines, and keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable are among the initiatives that have been discussed.
Most gun owners would agree on these initiatives, and all these changes can happen without threatening the Second Amendment, according to Thompson.
“We are not stopping people from having firearms, we just need to make a commitment to be smart about firearms,” he said.
California has among the strictest firearm regulations in the United States, yet there are still 600,000 registered firearms in the state, Thompson pointed out.
Thompson said that he remains optimistic about producing positive results.
“If we can clear the extremists from the discussion and get responsible gun owners and responsible politicians to work together, we can in fact do some things which are good,” he said.
The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 21 languages. Subscribe to our e-newsletter.