August 27, 2019
Dear Senator Tillis,
You wrote in a recent letter to constituents, “I welcome a discussion of ideas to make our communities safer from gun violence,” and “a healthy dialogue is long overdue.” Yet you still have never had a town hall and you continue to meet only with wealthy donors and people who you know will agree with you. Meanwhile, an average of 1,113 people in North Carolina die every year from gun violence, many of them children. That’s one death every 7 hours.
Polls indicate that 70% of Americans support red flag laws, yet you worry that these laws may take away the constitutional rights of gun owners. We ask you, what about the constitutional rights of the rest of us? We know that you accepted 4.5 million dollars from the NRA in your 2016 election. Is money worth more than the lives of children? On August 19th, Z’Yon Person, 9 years old, was shot in the head in Durham NC and instantly killed as he rode in a car with 4 other children. Gun violence is the third leading cause of death for children in our state.
In February, the House passed HR 8 requiring background checks prior to gun sales, a measure supported by 97% of Americans. We demand that you publicly urge Senator McConnell to bring this bill to a vote in the Senate.
You say in your letter, “I am supportive of common sense measures to prevent dangerous criminals and mentally ill individuals from having access to firearms.” In fact, mentally ill people are much more likely to kill themselves than other people, and blaming them for gun violence is misleading and increases needless stigma.
Instead of joining the president in demonizing mentally ill people, we urge you to point out the clear relationship of both domestic violence and hate speech to gun violence. The misogynistic and racist rhetoric that the president displays on a daily basis is another part of the problem, and we urge you to do your job as a Senator and stand up to him. It is not too late to do the right thing.