The PJ Tatler

Dems Make New Congresswoman from Newtown One of Their Gun-Policy Leaders

House Democrats appointed a freshman congresswoman from the Connecticut district including Newtown to serve as one of a dozen vice chairs of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) also named Rep. Ron Baber (D-Ariz.), formerly an aide to Rep. Gabrille Giffords (D-Ariz.) who was wounded in that shooting, to his task force.

Thompson, a Vietnam veteran and member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, was appointed by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to lead the task force at the beginning of this Congress.

Other appointees include Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), who represented Aurora at the time of the movie theater shooting; Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who was shot at Jonestown in 1978; Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), whose husband was killed in a 1993 Long Island Railroad shooting; and Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), who created a “Groceries for Guns” buyback program in Philadelphia. There are no Republicans represented.

“Our vice chairs have a wide range of experience that they’re bringing to bear on these important problems, and they reflect the diversity of our wonderful House caucus,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) after a House Democratic Caucus meeting today.

“We are focused on a comprehensive approach that will deal with true gun safety regulations and protect the rights of responsible gun owners, but also deal with mental health issues and, most importantly, keeping our children and our communities safe,” she said.

“We want to bring unique ideas to the table to work to save lives and keep families safe,” the former Planned Parenthood volunteer added.

The caucus met with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday, along with Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, for a “very productive” conversation about the administration’s intended next steps in gun control.

“Over the next several weeks we will be working very hard with a series of hearings and meetings to generate the sorts of solutions that the country deserves to have at this critical time; to meet with different constituencies, to get all the best ideas on the table, and to present them, again, to keep our communities safe with a comprehensive set of policy proposals,” Esty said.

“I’m part of a group of freshmen who believe we need to not accept the answers of the past and we need to do better. This is a wake-up call. Newtown, Connecticut, is a wake-up call to elected officials to do better for this country. And I believe that there is will out there to take on comprehensive reform. And I will be part of that process. Whether we get the votes in the end, I can’t say that. I’m not a good predictor at this point.”