In what seems to be the conditioned response after any gun violence, those on the left of the political spectrum call for more gun control, while those on the right blame mental health issues and video games for causing the tragedy.
After three mass shootings within a week and on opposite sides of the country, the issue of background checks, mental illness and what exactly can be done to prevent these massacres from happening is again at the forefront.
At these heightened times of grief and awareness citizens look to their elected leaders who may be the only ones who can pass laws that can limit access to certain types of guns and equipment.
But, do those laws punish law-abiding gun owners and restrict their freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution?
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer says he won’t support new legislation that takes away Second Amendment rights and instead wants to focus on ways to identify those individuals who are sending up red flags, but it won’t be easy.
“If someone gets a lot of DWIs and loses their driver’s license, that doesn’t mean they can’t steal a car and drive anyway,” Luetkemeyer said.
He added at the same time it is every citizen’s responsibility to report things if they see or hear them.
“This comes very close to infringing on personal privacy,” Luetkemeyer said. “You can’t just throw accusations at someone because you think they are having evil thoughts.”
During a conversation with a retired Washington physician at The Missourian offices Tuesday, Luetkemeyer explained his stance and said there are no easy answers.
“If anyone has ideas, I’m open to listen,” he said. “The House has passed gun legislation that hasn’t gone anywhere in the Senate. We’ve also given more money to local law enforcement for these issues.”
Congress is currently on a six-week summer break and even before gun control was brought back to the forefront, there weren’t many major bills being sent to President Donald Trump and many of his key issues were stymied in the House and Senate, which are controlled by opposite parties.
Luetkemeyer said the two chambers are not working well together and he feels the Democrats are doing everything they can to block the president’s agenda.
Trump has hinted that he would consider signing stiffer gun control legislation in exchange for stricter immigration laws he has been touting since he was still a candidate.
“The Democrats don’t want Trump to get a win,” Luetkemeyer said. “I don’t see a gun bill getting through the Senate and I don’t see an immigration bill making it through the House. Everything is very partisan.”
He added the best bet for any major legislation to pass will be if it begins in the Senate.
Luetkemeyer added the Democratic caucus in the House is in upheaval as Speaker Nancy Pelosi fights to rein in four freshman representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, known to many as “The Squad.”
“I actually have three of the four on the Financial Services Committee with me,” Luetkemeyer said. “The Democratic caucus is very, very fractured and broken apart, even more than the media will tell you. There are groups within groups and Pelosi is trying to keep them all together. She needs to be very careful how she goes about things.”
He added even Senate Democrats are working against their counterparts in the House, which is causing even more gridlock.
“We are not seeing bills of substance coming in the House,” Luetkemeyer said. “There are some willing to get things done. There are others that want to go home and campaign on what’s getting done, but it is all very partisan.”
With President Trump being the presumptive nominee for the Republicans, the attention on the 2020 presidential election is focused on the field of more than 20 candidates, which includes several U.S. senators, a few governors, business people, mayors and a couple of Luetkemeyer’s congressional colleagues.
The congressman echoed the remarks of many pundits from both sides who are saying the candidates and the party as a whole is being drawn too far from mainstream America.
“They are going too far to the left,” Luetkemeyer said. “The middle, that’s the group that elects people. Whoever the eventual nominee is will have a hard time tracking back.”
He added in the end, the presidential race will come down to name recognition and money.
“The party will eventually decide who the nominee is,” Luetkemeyer explained. “Anyone who raised their hand and said they were in favor of Medicare for all are going to have that come back and haunt them.”
Although he doesn’t formally support him, Luetkemeyer said he feels John Delaney, the former U.S. representative who represented Maryland’s 6th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019, would be the best choice due to his business background.
Earlier this week, President Trump imposed more tariffs on China, which in turn manipulated its currency and caused the stock market to lose nearly 1,000 points.
Luetkemeyer has supported Trump in the tariffs and on Tuesday said China can’t hold out much longer in the trade war and the current price increases to American consumers will be worth it 20 years down the road and we need China as a friend against North Korea.
“President Trump looks at things from 30,000 feet and wants to secure our economy for the long term,” he explained. “Right now, they have a $400 billion trade surplus on us. They have stolen our intellectual property. Their economy has become stagnate and the clock is running out on how long they can wait out Trump.”
He added the Chinese need the United States more than we need them and whatever deal is made the Chinese president will have to look as though he saved face and saved his economy.
“China can’t continue to be a bully on the playground,” Luetkemeyer said. “The best way to get rid of a bully is to start swinging back. We are in a position with Trump to push the bully off the block.”