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President should not use Newtown shooting, emotions for political gain

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As we consider the recent tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Conn., it is natural to want to do something to prevent that from ever happening again.

The victims of such unthinkable crimes deserve our solemn prayers for their loss and our deepest sympathy for their pain. The perpetrators of evil deserve justice for their crimes.

Yet, as a nation, we must not allow those who fundamentally oppose the Second Amendment to manipulate such tragedies by misdirecting our attention from the real causes of these crimes in order to advance their agenda. Rather, we should focus our collective grief and attention on finding actual solutions to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The president has seized on this moment to limit gun rights, saying that “if even one child’s life can be saved, then we need to act.”

At first glance, this seems like an unassailable notion. Of course, we all want to prevent the death of an innocent child. The problem, however, is that the president and other opponents of the Second Amendment are seeking to limit our constitutional rights by pitching Americans a false sense of security that by taking away rights, somehow those who intend to do harm will not do so.

History shows that gun bans only keep guns away from law-abiding citizens, not criminals.

Those who want to build, modify or acquire weapons for violence will do so.

Simply put, gun bans are not the answer.

Federal efforts to stop violence by people using guns should focus on the individual committing the crime.

We need real solutions that aim to identify, treat or limit access to the evil few who would perpetrate these horrible acts.

As the debate moves forward, we would all be wise to remember that to blame a gun for violence is to blame a pen for misspelling a word.

If we can come together and focus on the real causes of this violence, then there are opportunities to work together.

Without question, we need a serious discussion about how we address mental health issues in our country.

I also stand ready and willing to work on policies that would improve school security to better protect our children.

More can be done. Let us focus our attention in ways that will actually stop future violence, rather than allowing others to attempt to advance their agenda by capitalizing on tragedy.

I am unwilling to turn my back on our Constitution and sacrifice the liberty of the people I represent for what might give some a false sense of security. Our Founding Fathers knew better. We should too.

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., represents Indiana’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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