Letter: Challenge legislators, candidates on gun control

Posted 2/23/18

To the editor:

All politics is local. This is especially true of the politics of gun control. So, in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, it would be prudent of us to take a closer look at …

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Letter: Challenge legislators, candidates on gun control

Posted

To the editor:

All politics is local. This is especially true of the politics of gun control. So, in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, it would be prudent of us to take a closer look at where Rhode Island stands when it comes to protecting our kids from guns. 

Maybe, like me, you naively think that because you live in a historically “blue” state in which 64 out of our 75 state representatives identify as Democrats, that your lawmakers would be leading the pack when it comes to sensible gun control legislation at the state level. 

You might be surprised to learn that 67 members of the Rhode Island House of Representatives have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association. And of those with an “A,” 50 of them are registered Democrats. 

As a Portsmouth resident, with two children in elementary school, I took a closer look at the gun control stance of the elected officials who represent my family at the state level. Three of our four Portsmouth representatives have an “A” rating. At least one of them, my representative, Kenneth Mendonça, accepted a $250 campaign contribution from a group called Gun Owners PAC on Nov. 3, 2016, according to the R.I. Board of Elections Campaign Finance Electronic Reporting & Tracking System (ERTS).

When you step back and take a look at the makeup of our state legislature, it’s no surprise that it took years for Rhode Island to finally enact a law barring domestic abusers from owning firearms. In fact, Ken Mendonça voted against the bill, approved for passage by the House on June 26, 2017 and was absent for the final vote on Sept. 19, 2017. 

Recently, two separate bills, one that would ban high-capacity magazines and one that would restrict concealed guns on school grounds, have gone nowhere in the House, despite polls that show overwhelming support. Did you know that Rhode Island has the same age discrepancy when it comes to purchasing AR-15s as Florida? You can buy one at 18 here, too.

In the coming months, leading up to Nov. 6, you will begin to see yard signs pop up in your neighborhoods for all the various candidates vying to earn the privilege of representing you in the statehouse. These people are to be your voice when laws are being made that directly affect you, your family, and your community. 

Look closely at each candidate. It’s not enough to just vote Democrat. Take the time this election season to get to know the candidates. Ask them questions. Challenge them if their answers aren’t specific enough. This process of democracy belongs to all of us and it only works if we all participate. There’s a groundswell happening. The time for meaningful gun control is now. 

Lisa McDermott

20 Cypress St.

Portsmouth

letters, opinion

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