On Wednesday January 30th, I hosted a meeting with Burlington County Sheriff Jean Stanfield and other community leaders to have an open and honest discussion about the alarming incidents of gun violence. The discussion, which lasted for nearly two hours, included the insights of law enforcement, school officials, and mental health experts on issues related to gun violence and safety.
Obviously all of our hearts were torn when we learned of the tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut. The families of that community remain in all of our heats and prayers. Even with all of the other recent shootings this one touched us in a different way because the victims were young children and we all immediately thought about our own children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. Naturally the Newtown shooting has sparked a nationwide debate on gun violence. Knowing that this situation could benefit from a calm and respectful discussion about gun safety and violence, I called this summit so we could all hear different points of view without yelling and screaming at one another.
I have always held that any discussion about gun violence and safety must not be limited to restricting the sale of guns and gun accessories. It must be a comprehensive discussion that includes provisions about mental health awareness and treatment, school security, gun safety, and discussions about the increasing level of violence in entertainment, including television, movies, and video games. I was pleased that the discussion at the summit centered on these areas and never devolved into partisan politics.
Guests in attendance included John Angermeir the Chief of Detectives for the Burlington County Prosecutor's office, the Warden of the Burlington County Jail Lawrence Artis, Robert Bernardi the Burlington County Prosecutor, the director of the division of Behavioral Health and Youth Services Barbara Biglin, Kelly Logan a gun control advocate and founder of Stop, Drop Your Guns Inc, and Louis Fisher a Lieutenant in the Riverside Township Police Department.
The Burlington County Times did a great job covering the summit and has an excellent take on what the summit accomplished and how much more work needs to be done.
I want to thank all the guests who attended and took time out of their day to discuss this important issue. As I told all of the participants at the end of the meeting, this does not end the discussion. It is only the beginning of what should be a long and thoughtful process to ensure that we get it right.
Member of Congress