by C. Parker
Representative Paul Cook tweeted out his condolences Monday to those involved in the school shooting in San Bernardino, but his voting record betrays an indifference to those affected by gun violence.
The attack at San Bernardino’s North Park Elementary School resulted in the murder of both a teacher and an 8-year-old special education student, the injury of another child, and the suicide of the gunman himself (the spouse of the teacher killed).
As news of the unfolding situation broke, many fearfully recalled the terror attack that left 14 county employees dead and 22 injured in the same city in 2015.
Despite the carnage that befell our region that day, Rep. Cook voted in February to repeal Obama-era regulations that prohibited severely mentally disabled individuals from purchasing guns – a regulation that was put in place after another school shooting in which 20 children and six adults were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
On March 16th Rep. Cook voted in favor of HR 1181, the “Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act,” which would allow veterans legally deemed mentally incompetent to buy and possess firearms and ammunition, unless a judge finds them to be a danger to themselves or others.
While voting to allow more mentally ill people to purchase and own guns, since 2007 Rep. Cook has also voted against eight separate pieces of legislation that sought to regulate guns. One such bill sought to expand firearm registration “to apply the same reporting requirements for handgun and non-handgun firearm sales,” expanding the definition of “firearm” to include all guns and specifying “handguns” as firearms that one could conceal on one’s body. The bill also made it a misdemeanor to knowingly give false identifying information when buying a firearm, among other regulations.
Rep. Cook has been thrice endorsed by the National Rifle Association and received an A-rating from the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF), which distinguishes him as “a solidly pro-gun legislator who has supported NRA positions on key votes and issues.”
Rep. Cook said he was “honored to earn the NRA’s endorsement for the third consecutive time,” and went on to state, “They’re a principled organization and a tremendous force for 2nd Amendment rights in our country. In Congress, with the help of the NRA, I’ll continue to be a steadfast advocate for the rights of gun owners, and I’ll never waiver in my defense of the 2nd Amendment.”
Many searching in vain for answers tonight might unsatisfactorily settle on the conclusion that a person who would walk into a school full of kids and teachers and start shooting must be “out of their mind.” But it is truly the definition of insanity to continue supporting legislators who do not support common sense gun laws, even as our children and teachers and civil servants are murdered.
Common sense gun control, and whom one will vote for in 2018 to enact it, needs to be part of the political discussion in California’s District 8. Having that dialogue now, in the aftermath of yet another shooting in our backyard, does more to honor the victims of this tragedy than a half-hearted tweet ever could.