Following the recent massacres by domestic terrorist shootings in El Paso and Dayton, I contacted Sen. Daines to ask that the Republican Senate majority take up the firearm safety legislation passed by the House of Representatives back in February.

H.R. 8 would require universal background checks and close loopholes for buyers at gun shows and in private online sales. Currently, only federally licensed gun dealers must complete background checks. H.R. 112, a follow-on bill, would extend the current background check review period from three days to 10.

Sen. Daines responded that he is appalled and devastated by the senseless acts of violence carried out by cowards. He further offered condolences to the victims of the recent mass shootings and their loved ones as well as gratitude to the brave law enforcement officials who put their lives on the line. So far – so good. But, then, the senator followed up with the worn-out cliché that he would not "support controversial firearm restriction proposals that would undermine our Second Amendment rights and that many experts believe would be ineffective in preventing violent crimes." 

Despite years of public cries for stronger gun safety laws to address such horrifying events, the Republican majority in Congress has stonewalled meaningful legislation. Sen. Daines’ assertion that background checks for gun purchases would undermine our Second Amendment rights is absurd. So is his declaration that "many experts" believe such regulation would not help prevent violent crimes. These lame and unsubstantiated excuses place public safety at risk while frightening responsible gun owners, continuing to nurture the gun industry, and assuring the unceasing flow of campaign contributions to Republican elected officials.

I challenge Sen. Daines and his Republican colleagues to publicly defend their crusade against sensible firearm safety. Otherwise, it will be clear who the real cowards are.

Steven Sweeney

Bozeman