MY WORD: Explaining votes on gun measures

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By Sen. Rand Paul

Every time I listen to the parents of the children who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, I am profoundly sad. I have three boys, and the grief and pain that a parent feels when their child is taken is hard to fathom. I can only imagine the magnitude of their grief.

I want to do what we can to prevent these horrific mass murders. I supported amendments that would have increased prosecution of felons attempting to buy guns. Last year, 15,000 felons tried to buy guns, but only 44 were prosecuted. This is inexcusable – a tragic lack of enforcing current law. I, along with other concerned legislators, tried to fix this problem.

I voted to punish states that don't turn over the records of criminally convicted mentally ill individuals.

I voted for increasing the prison sentences of people who purchase guns and then transfer those guns to people who are ineligible to buy guns.

I have let the president know that I will work with him on any legislation that might help prevent shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary. The disagreement is not over wanting to prevent tragedy, but how to do it.

The president wants to place restrictions and penalties on law-abiding citizens. I want to place and enforce penalties on the people who break the law.

If you want to stop future school shootings, you must first ask: What would have stopped this tragedy from occurring?

The young men who have been committing these mass murders are not deterred by death (most have willingly accepted death at the end of their rampages). Nor have they been deterred by the death penalty or life in prison.

I see no logical reason why they would be deterred by gun registration. In fact, almost 90 percent of crimes are committed with weapons bought illegally.

These sick young men choose gun-free zones to do their killing. These murderers don't go to the local police station looking for a shootout. They go to places where no one is armed.

When I see the sad, grieving faces of parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook, I want them to know I want to do everything possible to try to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again.

But the only proposal I know of to deter an armed madman is an armed defense. Many states are now legalizing concealed carry for teachers and principals. Some schools are hiring armed security guards and retired policemen to defend our kids.

Perhaps if these killers knew they would be met with armed resistance, then maybe our kids would finally be safer.

In the gun control debate, we all want more safety and less madness. But we must write legislation that targets the lawbreakers, not law-abiding gun owners.

We must enforce current laws that are routinely ignored, instead of rushing to enact new laws that would do nothing to prevent these tragedies and would feasibly make the public more vulnerable.

As a parent, I want to take every precaution to protect our children. We all do. But disagreement over methods or approach is in no way a disagreement over intent, as some like to portray.

The parents of the students murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary know pain and loss at a level that none of us one can imagine without going through it. Our job, even when we disagree, is to take the necessary steps that make it less likely that any parent will ever have to go through it again.


U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) is the state’s junior senator.