Opinions

OPINION: I’m a veteran, and I support Lisa Murkowski’s vote on gun reform

Murkowski

As someone who has used a gun to defend both myself and this country, I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I was an E3 X-ray tech in the U.S. Army and was in theater during the Gulf War. Following my time in the service, I was a disabled veteran coming home to a country that seemed to stop caring about me as soon as my discharge was approved. It wasn’t until I contacted Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s office that I was able to access the benefits I was owed for the service I gave to this country. The smartest thing I ever did in my life is contact Lisa Murkowski: She saved my life.

The work Sen. Murkowski did for me is just one instance of the work she does every day for Alaskans. Her recent support of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is no exception. This piece of legislation that recently passed into law will not take our guns away. The mass shootings we’ve seen devastate American communities cannot be blamed on responsible gun owners; they were caused by criminals and people who have no right to own a firearm. Each time a gun is put in the hands of a reprehensible criminal, our rights as respectable, law-abiding gun owners are threatened. It is our collective responsibility to protect our rights as outlined in the Second Amendment and ensure the safety of our communities, from our schools to our grocery stores to our churches.

The provisions of this bill are bipartisan, focus on criminals, and are made up of common sense provisions with the best interests of our communities in mind.

1. The legislation makes it a criminal penalty to traffic guns out of this country.

2. It gives the FBI seven additional days to look into potential concerns raised by the initial background checks of individuals under the age of 21 who have juvenile criminal records.

3. It makes the “straw purchasing” of a firearm, where someone with a criminal past asks a person with a clean record to purchase a firearm for them, a criminal offense punishable up to 20 years.

4. It ensures that our licensed and responsible firearm dealers do not lose customers to people without the same licensing as our established dealers did, leveling the playing field economically and ensuring firearm dealers are reputable and responsible people.

5. It provides necessary funding for mental health and school security.

Ultimately, it is the mental health and school security provisions I find most important. I put my life on the line to defend this country and ensure American children can feel safe. It feels like a cruel twist that I can return home from serving in theater during the Gulf War to headlines about children shot in their classrooms. This bill aims to ensure our children are not the victims of criminals unlawfully armed with guns. In addition to ensuring schools can deliver mental health services to their students, the bill will help schools implement comprehensive strategies to create safe and healthy learning environments for all students, including training and tools for students and teachers on how to prevent and respond to violence.

Sen. Murkowski understands how important it is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and prevent mass shootings, just as she understands how integral our Second Amendment rights are to our ability to protect ourselves and our families. I commend her wholeheartedly for supporting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and I thank her for the role she continues to play in defending our Second Amendment rights, ensuring our national security and protecting our communities. Lisa Murkowski saved my life years ago – my only hope now is that her work on this bill will help save countless others.

Kathleen Brave is a combat veteran currently living in Fairbanks. She served in theater during the Gulf War as an E3 x-ray tech in the U.S. Army.

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