I support rational gun control as a fourth-generation Montanan (and former Cheyenne resident), a pastor, the mother of a victim of gun violence, the widow of a Navy vet who served as a deputy sheriff, and as a hunter.

I am pleading with our senators to fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that passed the House in April. One of the things holding this up is its inclusion of a “red flag” extreme risk provision. There is growing support for red flag laws. The work done by our domestic violence shelter programs far outweighs the cost of violence in terms of both lives lost and law enforcement budgets.

I ask them to remove the Dickey Amendment that hamstrings the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ability to gather and share information about gun deaths. Use that information to craft meaningful laws. ALL our laws should be built on comprehensive truth and reality. Public health departments have been calling deaths from guns a public health epidemic for 40 years.

A recent form letter from Sen. Daines of Montana states, “Many experts believe firearm restriction proposals would be ineffective in preventing violent crimes.” Differences exist among law enforcement personnel, but I consider them to be the experts. The world’s largest professional association of police leaders is the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Their official Firearms Policy Position Statement clearly supports a ban on the sale of assault weapons, closing gun show loopholes and more key regulations. Their experience and input into this debate is of the highest value. They stand committed to influencing tangible policy change. Following their call, pass universal background checks and stop the sale of assault weapons. See https://www.theiacp.org.

I pray that you will never have to endure the searing grief of losing a loved one to gun violence. Far too many of us have. May God’s peace find a home in your heart.

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