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Weekly message from Congressman Pittenger

Rep. Robert Pittenger

On Wednesday, we watched in horror as pure evil unfolded at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Once again, we were reminded that violence, hopelessness, and a lack of respect are far too prevalent in our culture.  We should not be silent.

As many of us paused to pray for the victims, their families, and the students who lived through the terrifying ordeal, there was almost immediately a counter-chorus from mainstream media pundits and political activists disparaging prayer and demanding immediate government solutions.  This was just days after ABC television host Joy Behar compared Christianity to mental illness.

Laws are necessary for an orderly society.  Yet we now know that Nikolas Cruz passed a background check, and the FBI tragically failed to act on a tip warning of his troubling behavior.  We also know an assault weapons ban was in effect at the time of Columbine, and the guns at Sandy Hook were stolen.

Laws are necessary, but they can’t prevent all tragedies.  Laws can’t impact the human heart.

There is a pervasive culture of violence promoted in video games, television, movies, and music.  We allow the media to feed our country a steady stream of glorified violence.  We have officially removed prayer from schools and we have become a society governed by relativism.  Now we are dealing with the adverse circumstances.

A vitally important response to Parkland is for those in media, education, government, and elsewhere to recognize and expose this reality.  Our children need to be loved, taught to respect themselves and others, and learn the basic moral values our country was built upon.

As a Member of Congress, I also have responsibility to take appropriate legislative action.  The 21st Century Cures Act, which I co-sponsored and helped pass in 2016:

*        Reforms healthcare privacy laws (HIPPA) to make it easier for family members to help individuals going through severe mental illness receive treatment.

*        Increases funding to train teachers how to appropriately intervene before someone with mental illness experiences a crisis.

*        Reauthorizes programs that focus on early treatment for children with severe emotional disturbances.
In December, I co-sponsored and helped pass legislation to improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS):

*        Requires relevant federal agencies to annually certify their compliance in the reporting of federally-prohibited individuals to NICS.  Political appointees in those agencies would face financial penalties for lapses in compliance.

*        Increases federal assistance to states to help with submitting records.

*        Requires the Attorney General to study and report back to Congress on bump stocks.

In ordering the Bill of Rights, our Founding Fathers placed “the right to keep and bear arms” second in importance only to the “freedom of speech.”  As your Congressman, I am committed to protecting your Constitutional rights.

Yet every right comes with equal responsibility.

Gun violence, gun control, and the 2nd Amendment are serious issues, and my commitment is to always carefully examine all facets of the issue, keeping in mind how pervasive violence has become in American culture.  We must work together for a comprehensive, lasting, genuine solution to the problem of gun violence in America.

Only when our nation regains its moral footing will our children truly be safe.

Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.

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