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Letter to the Editor: Newtown Rampage is a Turning Point

A Glen Ellyn reader contacts Congressman Peter Roskam's office to inquire about his stance on gun rights after the Newtown shooting and the future of NRA campaign donations and receives an inadequate response.

Downers Grove Patch accepts letters to the editor, which will be posted on the site weekly.

The following was submitted by a Glen Ellyn resident in response to the school shooting in Newtown, CT.

If you're interested in submitting a letter, e-mail Downers Grove Patch Editor Amanda Luevano at amanda@patch.com.

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As a parent and grandparent, I was moved to tears by the tragic shootings at Newtown, Connecticut.

I am not opposed to gun ownership. Many enjoy hunting and they should be able to continue to do so. I have never owned a firearm or even discharged one in my life, and I have never understood the need to own an assault weapon. In today's reality we permit these dangerous offensive weapons to exist in every state across the country.

On Sunday, I asked myself two questions.

Am I really prepared to say that I am powerless in the face of the Newtown carnage, that the politics are too hard?

Am I prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

On Monday morning I contacted the office of the Congressman Peter Roskam who represents the Sixth District of Illinois to learn his position regarding assault weapons. Congressman Roskam is among the House and Senate members who received donations from the National Rifle Association. During the 2012 election cycle he accepted $3,000 from the NRA which made donations totaling $719,596. In 2010 he received $2,000, in 2008, he received $6,500 and in 2006, he received $4,950 for a grand total of $16,450.

You would think Congressman Roskam would be prepared to deal with such an inquiry after this tragedy. At least, I thought he would be able to respond, but that was NOT the case. In reply to my question, Jeff Ragsdale, a congressional assistant told me "You know, Congressman Roskam is pro-gun rights." He asked me to hold while he checked on the official position regarding assault weapons. After a brief wait he told me that he would send me an email later in the day.

I asked the congressional assistant if he knew whether Congressman Roskam would be willing to accept further donations from the NRA based on the terrible Newtown tragedy. He told me to call the Roskam re-election office and provided the telephone number. I called office and was directed to leave a message. Later in the day I received a call from David Rivera from the Roskam re-election office, and I posed my questions regarding future donations. Mr. Rivera asked me why I was calling this office, and I told him I was directed by the congressional assistant. He took my email address and said he would reply. As of this writing he has not replied. Later Congressional Assistant Jeff Ragsdale called me to report that he would NOT send me an email regarding my information request; but I would receive a letter at some unspecified date.

I was angered and sadden by this response but determined that this is too important to get a brush off. We need to do more to keep our children safe. This cannot go on. Mass shootings cannot become routine and accepted in America. The latest slaughter of innocents and those who tried to protect them has become a turning point for me.

If Congressman Roskam – as our district’s representative – does not have the courage and conviction to protect our children and all of us from assault weapons, his position should be known. And, if he supports and accepts donations from the NRA, I cannot support him.

Stand up Congressman to act like a leader and not an NRA follower.

Respectfully,

Ken Trantowski 

Glen Ellyn

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DFL56 December 19, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Thank you Ken for effort to call and question Congressman Roskam on these issues. I am 100% in agreement with you. Each day this week this has been topic number one here at my workplace at the water cooler and at lunch. A turning point has indeed been reached and that is what it will take to effect real change. The people have to put pressure on our civil servants to do something. They should see that the people are for this, the people vote (Obama did win by the way), and that is going to more important to their political future than fealty to the NRA. The NRA will be exposed as the paper tiger that they are only if the people keep up the pressure in the coming months since their way of responding to these tragedies is well know: first stay quiet then slow roll any legislative response until it is either killed in committee or so full of loopholes to become ineffective.
Joseph O'Shaughnessy December 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
People wonder sometimes why certain political advocates become somewhat too strident in their comments about their representatives. The only voice we have, the best and most effective way to stop injustice, greed, incompetence and even the wrong reasons for going to war is our vote for representation. When our congress people lie to us, not blatant lies, never blatant lies....merely evasions, but hugely significant...then we should call them to account. No one likes to be lied to but some more than others. With our representatives, it is dangerous and we should be vigilant. Peter Roskam is no average congressman. He is the highly ambitious, dissembling, Republican whip in the House. If anyone should be held to account, he should. He plans the Republican strategy with the leadership. He has never worked for positive things for his constituents. While in the Springfield legislature, he worked with ALEC, the National Rifle Association and the Koch Brothers-funded organization of corporations. Their goal is to end all regulations on corporations, and, in doing so, to disenfranchise anyone who tries to stop them. Roskam is one of what are called now by many...the Neo-Fascists...those members of government who will lie and lie to the people in order to maintain funding from people like the NRA. They are the functionaries of the oligarchs and they must hide their true beliefs in order to deceive the people or they would be thrown out.
C. Litigios Moller December 20, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Thanks to the letter writer for reaching out and asking our Congressman about the terrible problem. Unfortunately I am not surprised by his response and it only confirms our ongoing belief that Congressman Roskam is out of touch with his constituents. Leslie Coolidge would have made a much better representative of our district (#6). Hopefully she'll run again!
Rick December 21, 2012 at 01:16 AM
When white folks get shot, people contact their Congressmen. Take note blacks! Stop marching and start writing, maybe then someone will listen to you. Hypocrite libs like DFL don't care a wink about ya.
Rick December 21, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Strict gun control was in effect in Nazi Germany. Hitler did this to prevent his enemies from fighting back. The word Nazi itself were 'National Socialists' So i say to you Joe, be careful who you call Neo-Fascists. Pot. Kettle. Black. Capiche?
Walter Bruun January 15, 2013 at 10:47 AM
@ Rick - strict gun control was in effect in Germany during the Weimar Republic because of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 - ownership of handguns & rifles was illegal & guns were confiscated. Gun control was drastically cut back after the Nazis took control, the 1938 revisions of the laws completely deregulated the acquisition and transfer of rifles and shotguns, as well as ammunition, and many more categories of people, including Nazi party members, were exempted from gun ownership regulations altogether, while the legal age of purchase was lowered from 20 to 18, and permit lengths were extended from one year to three years - although gun ownership by Jews was forbidden. The term "fascist" was used by Benito Mussolini - the violent anti-communist & anti-union leader of Italy who allied himself with Hitler (who was also violently anti-communist & anti-union). A couple of minutes of research on reputable sites on the internet was all that was required to find this info, in future please do some research before commenting.
Joseph O'Shaughnessy January 15, 2013 at 03:37 PM
When looking for a Neo-Fascist, that is, someone who is basically in complete agreement with the National Rifle Association's positions, the positions of ALEC, the organization of global corporations who have representatives for their position in every state legislature, and the aggressive military posture of the Right Wing Republicans...look to the basic propaganda techniques. The idea is to split your opposition, particularly when you do not have a leg to stand on or particularly when you have made reckeless, unsubstantiated comments...to distract from the weakness of your argument or to make yourself more agreeable to at least some of the audience. For example, if I were supporting more automatic weapons on the street, and I made some really stupid statements, I would distract by dividing my audience, trying to get on segment on my side, by saying something like, "...when white folks get shot, people contact their Congressmen..." Of course, the implication is that this gun advocate, who doesn't mind that black children are shot accidentally by violence about 500 times more often than white children,, "really cares." Of course if he did, he would fight to get guns off the streets in all areas, in Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods most of all.

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