Letter: Unimpressed by Neal's gun reform proposals
After meeting with Congressman Richard Neal on Monday, I am not optimistic about how he'll represent the youth of Pittsfield in Washington.
A group of us at Pittsfield and Taconic high schools walked out of school last week in solidarity with the victims of the Florida shooting and in protest of assault rifles and all gun violence. Our stance is simple: We want to feel safe in school and we don't want to hear about another mass murder.
It seemed that Neal's solution to school shootings is mental health care reform and more background checks. I agree that more money and attention need to be paid to mental health care in America, but this isn't a solution to gun violence. Even with all the resources and effort it would take to help the mentally ill, people would still slip through the cracks.
Neal also advocated for red flag laws that would enable courts to confiscate weapons in cases where the owner may be at risk for violence. This is not enough. Assault rifles are military weapons. The key word here is "assault." These guns simply shouldn't be accessible to the public. Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun laws, including an assault rifle ban — and gun deaths here are the lowest in the nation as of 2015. We want a nationwide ban on these weapons. The lives of American children are more valuable than any hobby, collection or instrument of pride.
Students from Pittsfield are raising money for a bus to take us to Washington for the "March For Our Lives" rally on the 24th. To donate to our cause, you can visit https://www.gofundme.com/march-for-our-lives-bus-to-dc.
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