By Donna Beth Weilenman
Special to the Herald
Saying that more than 11,000 people have died so far this year through gunfire, U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson has asked for President Donald Trump’s help to find a solution to “the senseless and needless violence.”
Of those, at least 59 died and more than 500 were wounded Sunday when a man identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nev., opened fire on concert goers outside of the Mandalay Bay Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Paddock committed suicide as law enforcement officers were breaking into his hotel suite.
Thompson is the chairperson of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, appointed after the mass shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 school children as well as multiple adults. A Napa Democrat, Thompson represents both Benicia and portions of Martinez in his Congressional district, California-05.
Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, more than 1,700 people have died from mass shootings. Among the incidents were attacks on the Washington Navy Yard in 2013; a church in Charleston, S.C., a community college in Roseburg Ore., and a San Bernardino conference hall in 2015; the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in 2016, and multiple attacks on police and military sites.
In addition to those 11,000 deaths, 23,000 have been wounded, Thompson said in his letter to President Trump. The letter was cosigned by 96 members of the task force.
Thompson said the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force has worked toward a common goal, “to prevent gun violence in our communities, schools, workplaces, places of worship and throughout our nation.”
He wrote, “We are gun owners, former law enforcement, gun violence survivors, former healthcare providers, former educators, parents and grandparents and concerned people who just want to put an end to the senseless and needless violence.”
He said Democrats “have extended our hand and asked the Republican leadership to come to the table to work with us to find a solution,” but told Trump the Republicans have declined.
“They rejected a bipartisan, commonsense reform of our background check system. They refused to establish a Select Committee on Gun Violence. They have refused to even hold a hearing. Meanwhile, Americans are dying,” he wrote.
He then asked the president to meet with members of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
“You have the power to make real change in America and protect our communities from the senseless gun violence like we saw in Las Vegas,” Thompson wrote.
“Together, we can find common ground that respects and supports the Second Amendment while keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them – criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.”
He wrote that the task force is “reaching out to you, please,” and urged the president to “join us in the fight to end gun violence. We look forward to meeting with you to discuss this most urgent and troubling issue that is tearing apart our communities and our country.”