WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today issued the following statement after the White House announced recommendations from Vice President Joe Biden's gun task force.
“Like all Americans, I was deeply saddened by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. What added to our grief as a nation was that it also came on the heels of mass gun shootings in Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin, and the senseless acts of violence that occur every day in cities throughout our country. In light of all of these events, it is apparent that far too many Americans, including children, are needlessly losing their lives. We must come together as a country to prevent future tragedies, future senseless loss of life, and to ensure that no American lives in fear.
“I applaud the White House for quickly convening a task force and issuing comprehensive recommendations to address violence in this country. Importantly, this proposal protects the rights of gun owners, while advancing commonsense safety and crime reduction measures. As a hunter, I know that the recreational use and collection of guns is important to many Iowans and as this debate advances, I will work to protect the legitimate rights of law-abiding American gun owners. But we cannot continue down a path of unlimited access to any arms, including those capable of shooting hundreds of bullets in a very short time. We can protect gun rights while continuing to support responsible legislation to reduce crime and make our schools and communities safer – goals that are not mutually exclusive.
“I am also encouraged that this proposal recognizes that a comprehensive approach is needed – one that focuses on ensuring that our students get the services they need and addresses mental health services in our country with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention. As chair of the Senate HELP Committee, I look forward to bringing together experts to examine our current mental health system and how the federal government can ensure that people and communities who need help for mental health conditions have timely access to the services they require.”