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Honorable  Sheila Jackson Lee TX 18th District
Sheila Jackson Lee
TX 18th District

There are no words to express the horror of the senseless violence today at a place that should be a safe place of learning. My heart aches as a parent and someone who visits my local universities and interacts with the students and it is hard to think of what the family of the victim must be going through. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victim of this tragedy and I know everyone will come together to help the community in this time of need. It is now time to move past gun special interest and make gun laws to protect our children who are the most vulnerable.

For over 10 years in many sessions of Congress I have introduced the HR 227, the Child Gun Safety and Gun Access Prevention Act. I have been an advocate for more gun safety laws in America since I have arrived here in Congress. In one year on average, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun. Over a million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968. U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined, despite similar non-lethal crime and violence rates.

In order to promote safety for our children it is imperative this Congress brings to the House floor NOW the following gun safety laws:
1. An immediate ban on all assault weapons
2. The closing of the gun show loopholes
3. A more structured mental health support system for families that will allow them to get immediate assistance in regards to mental issues. There should be some pathway in which families can acknowledge mental issues within their family and seek public funded or private counseling services immediately.
4. Expanding state laws holding adults responsible for securing their weapons.

This Congress must rise above partisan politics and now come together to pass important gun safety laws. The safety of America should be at the forefront when it comes to making these gun safety laws. The politics of outside groups like the NRA should not play a factor when we consider the safety of our citizens. We must also look at gun violence in other cities too such as Chicago where over the last few years a number of school age kids have been killed with guns.

If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Oregon and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg, Purdue University and now Palm Bay campus of Eastern Florida State College — then this Congress surely has an obligation to try. In 1965, the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that access to contraceptives is a constitutionally protected right and, along with the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, helped secure the right for women to make private reproductive decisions.

In 2014, we should not be taking steps against the tide of progress and liberty, but rather we should be working to balance these freedoms with other long-standing principles of our nation. My colleagues and I strongly believe that the contraceptive coverage requirement does not violate the free exercise of religion and will ensure that all Americans receive vital preventive health care services.

The amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court details how the legislative history of the ACA supports the conclusion that the contraceptive coverage requirement of the ACA satisfies the test applicable to a free exercise of religion challenge under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As the amicus brief notes:
The contraceptive coverage requirement does not … compel the Corporations to administer or use the contraceptive methods to which they object, nor does it require them to adhere to, affirm, or abandon a particular belief.

The contraceptive coverage requirement maintains constitutional guarantees of reproductive privacy rights while also maintaining the integrity of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.“Congress should not be in the business of unduly infringing upon women’s health and private reproductive rights,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. We have not come this far in establishing women’s equality to turn back the hands of time.