Roundtable participants included Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart, Actress Melissa Joan Hart, Actor Wilson Cruz, ESPN Reporter Sarah Spain, mother of Covenant School shooting survivor Melissa Alexander, Marine Corps veteran John Hambley, & Fashion Designer Whitney Port
“We represent a whole host of political views and life experiences at this table. And one of the things that Washington, D.C. does not do well is nuance. You’re either red or you’re blue. You’re either for it or you’re against it,” said Heinrich. “We really break things down into dichotomous relationships. But the real world does not work that way.”
Heinrich continued, “I’m a big believer, as someone who spent my entire life as a gun owner, that you can be a gun owner or a sportsman and simultaneously realize that we should not have ubiquitous access to weapons of war in our country. Because it’s not safe and because of the incredible toll that we are all paying as the result of the current lay of the land and the current lack of regulation of assault weapons. That is what set me on a course a number of years ago towards trying to write legislation, now called the GOSAFE Act, that really gets at the mechanics of what makes some of these assault weapons so dangerous.”
Heinrich was joined by include Doña Ana County, New Mexico Sheriff Kim Stewart; Maine resident and Marine Corps veteran John Hambley; Actress Melissa Joan Hart; Actor Wilson Cruz, a nephew of Pulse Nightclub shooting victim; ESPN Reporter Sarah Spain; Mother of Covenant School shooting survivor Melissa Alexander; and Fashion Designer Whitney Port.
“For us in law enforcement, mass casualty events are probably our biggest concern,” said Sheriff Kim Stewart. “Especially when we’re talking about being able to reload numerous magazines within a very short period of time. If you have a fixed magazine, that certainly gives law enforcement much more opportunity to move in on a situation and take action before there are more casualties.”
“I am a resident of Maine, I’m a gun owner, and a veteran. I served in the Marine Corps as an officer in two deployments. More importantly, I am a father and husband,” said John Hambley. “The reason I’m here is through tragic necessity. My two boys are young enough that this is not a conversation yet, but it will be. I’m horrified by how complacent we have become and that this is the new norm. It’s time to stop.”
“I am an actor director, wife, and, most importantly, mother. I'm exhausted,” said Melissa Joan Hart. “I used to believe that you couldn't mess with the Second Amendment because that's a threat to our freedom as Americans. But now I can say that we are not free as long as weapons of war are allowed in the hands of untrained, unchecked citizens. We are not free if our children are forced to practice lockdown drills at school and at church, and we are not free if we have to live in fear.”
“I am a nephew and a family member devastated by gun violence. My aunt, Brenda Lee Marquez-McCool, was murdered at the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting while she placed her body between the shooter and her son, who survived,” said Wilson Cruz. “I'm also here as a citizen who's exhausted of seeing families traumatized by the loss of their loved ones by instruments of death that have no place on our streets. If we claim to be a society that values life, the very least we can do is pass this bill and save more human lives by removing these instruments of terror.”
“I didn't prepare a statement today because my statement was prepared for me on March 27th when my son survived the mass shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Melissa Alexander, the mother of a Covenant School shooting survivor. “As a mother of a mass shooting survivor, living in a community of victims and survivors, we've experienced firsthand the devastation of gun violence and death. I'm here today as a member of a conservative family, who are lifelong gun owners, a mother of a mass shooting survivor, who's also a hunter, who has owned guns, and comes from a family of hunters who knows how to properly handle weapons. I'm here today to lend my voice to this because I'm begging for change. I'm begging for our children's lives.”
"I'm an award-winning sports journalist, and people might be surprised to hear that there's diversity of thought in sport, but it's actually the perfect representation of bipartisan teamwork. If you're on a team, your teammates are from different backgrounds, political beliefs, religions, races, and you have to work together as a common goal,” said Sarah Spain. “Another generation of people can't undergo trauma, watch trauma or worry about trauma because of assault weapons in their community. I don't think any American citizen needs an assault weapon and plenty of lives depend on our action and inaction at this time.”
“I have used my platform for the past 15 years to highlight women's issues, and this is obviously not just a mother issue. This is a whole country issue,” said Whitney Port. “I have a six-year-old child and the realization that my child is practicing for a mass shooting at school fills me with fear and overwhelming stress. I decided to get active with March Fourth as they have the most obvious and what I feel to be the most actionable messaging when it comes to this issue to limit the access of assault rifles. There does not need to be such easy access to them.”
The GOSAFE Act, introduced by Heinrich on November 30, is new, pragmatic legislation designed to protect communities from gun violence by regulating firearms based on the lethality of their internal mechanisms, as opposed to focusing on cosmetic features that manufacturers can easily modify.
More information on the GOSAFE Act, including bill text, a fact sheet, section-by-section, endorsements, and more, can be found here.