Thank you for contacting me about gun safety, the President's policy proposals, and potential Congressional action on this issue. I appreciate hearing your concerns on this important matter. On Friday, December 14, 2012, twenty children and six school teachers and administrators were killed in a horrific mass shooting at the hands of a mentally ill individual in Newton, CT. Unfortunately, this tragedy is not the only one of its kind. This was the third mass shooting, including Aurora and Oak Creek, in the last year and the fifth, counting Virginia Tech and Tucson, in the last several years. America is facing an epidemic of gun violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics System there were 32,000 deaths in 2011 alone involving firearms, with 11,101 of those being homicides. Since 1982, there have been at least 62 documented mass murders using firearms, defined as cases in which at least 4 individuals were killed. Still other instances of bloodshed, such as the Washington, D.C. beltway sniper attacks in 2002, which took the lives of ten people over three weeks, occur far too regularly. Unfortunately, this is not an easy problem to solve. Primarily, I believe we have a cultural problem that needs to be addressed on every level, including through legislation. We must limit access to firearms, especially those that serve no purpose other than to kill. I am a cosponsor of legislation to ban high capacity magazines and clips. I support a stronger, more thorough version of the semiautomatic assault weapons ban. In order to purchase a gun legally, I believe everyone should have to clear a background check. This means addressing the gun show loophole and covering most person-to-person transfers of firearms. We must also comprehensively tackle the way we address mental health in this country by improving the way we identify and treat the mentally ill. I am personally concerned both by the lack of treatment for dangerous individuals and the difficulty authorities have in requiring them to receive such treatment. In all of the tragic incidents listed above, after the fact, people came forward to make it clear that the individuals who committed the violent acts were known to be disturbed and dangerous long before they carried out their crimes. I believe that law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges should be given greater power to, at least temporarily, suspend gun rights to disturbed and dangerous people, take steps to make sure they receive the treatment they need, and, in extreme cases, civilly commit them until they receive that treatment. In an effort to ensure that happens, I joined several other Members of Congress in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee to request funding for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, which helps states and counties develop strategies to deal with mentally ill offenders through collaborations between criminal justice and mental health support systems. I understand the difficulty of regulating firearms and am prepared for the long road ahead. Connecticut has some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, yet the guns used in Newtown were purchased legally. There are an estimated 270-300 million guns today in the United States, and approximately 40 percent of homes contain a legally owned firearm. Reducing access and availability of firearms may be one avenue to reducing violence, and I would support a gun buyback program like those seen in U.S. cities and in foreign countries, such as Australia. President Obama offered an initial plan to reduce and prevent gun violence through executive actions. It is now Congress's turn to create lasting reforms that keep our communities safe. Recently, Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey introduced the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act as an amendment during consideration of the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013 (S. 649). The Manchin-Toomey amendment would have expanded the existing background check system to include the sale of guns sold at gun shows and online, which constitute a substantial portion of all gun sales in the United States. This legislation also included protections of Second Amendment rights that many gun owners have previously sought, including an exemption from background checks for firearms transferred between family members and an explicit ban on the creation of a gun registry, enforceable by felony conviction and a penalty of up to 15 years in prison for violations. It would have also expanded gun rights for active duty servicemembers, created a fairer gun ownership process for veterans, and better prevented convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from acquiring guns while protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners. On April 17, 2012, the Manchin-Toomey amendment was defeated by a vote of 54-46 in which 60 votes would have been necessary for its passage. The Senate also did not conclude consideration and did not vote on the underlying legislation, S. 649. Support for new gun laws has gone down over the last 20 years, despite increased acts of mass murder and gun violence. Any changes in federal law will require strong support and action from the American public. As part of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, I will continue to review the President's plan, as well as other proposals, in order to put policies in place that protect our children and communities while maintaining the rights granted by the Second Amendment. As policymakers and a society, we can and must do more to address this issue, and I look forward to working with all interested parties, including my colleagues here in Congress, to enact positive change and make our communities safer. Thank you again for contacting me. If I can be of any help to you or your family in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.