I would like to take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Joel Yonkman and I live in your district. My background is one of diversity and depth. I have 17 years’ experience working in emergency services including police, fire and emergency medical services. I have a Master’s degree in disaster medicine and management which I put to use working for FEMA as a Disaster Assistance Employee and educator. Finally, I am a NRA Member, a current FFL dealer and an avid shooter. I have spent countless hours researching and training first responders how to respond to and control terrorist attacks at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness along with locations nationwide. I have worked with our nations’ leaders, at FEMA headquarters in Washington DC, and have been involved with writing national level guidance regarding how the country will respond to catastrophic disasters that impact the Midwest. Much of my life has been dedicated to working with and responding to not only personal emergencies but emergencies that impact our country. With that said, I have to say I am outraged at the latest attempt of Senator Feinstein regarding gun control and the personal political motivation within.
I work with families on a daily basis that have had children killed in car accidents, children that are killed as a result of child abuse, children that are killed as a result of natural disasters, and the list goes on. I think the Sandy Hook school shooting, as horrific and repulsive as it is, is just political fodder to push someone’s personal political agenda. Let’s for a second step back and look at the bigger picture here. Is gun control really the issue? You have a diagnosed mentally ill young man that has been pointed out by individuals as a threat on numerous occasions and what was done? As a paramedic I deal with these people on a daily basis. Some, not all, are guilty of various crimes form sex offences to assaultive and violent behavior. In the late 90’s many of the state institutions, at least in Michigan, were closed down that were responsible for treating these people due to financial constraints and private companies were put in place to treat these people on an outpatient basis meaning many of these people were placed back into the community with little to now supervisor and in some cases little to no life skills. Regarding gun laws and this group of people, it is currently against federal law for the diagnosed mentally disabled to even possess a gun. Where is the outcry for mental health treatment reform? Where is the legislation to educate and hold accountable the individuals who let these people possess and use firearms, which by all accounts was happening frequently and knowingly by many in the community, regarding to the Sandy Hook school shooting. How are the current laws that keep these people from having guns being enforced and what is being done at the government level to ensure these people are being punished and not becoming part of the revolving door epidemic that plagues our correctional system? The primary gun style in question which is misrepresented as an “assault weapon” that is getting all the publicity wasn’t even used in the attack. In fact, it was found after the incident in the individual’s car.
So comes the question about magazine capacity. Well, let me tell you as a trained individual all reducing the magazine capacity does is adds mere seconds to the time in which it takes to fire the desired number of rounds. Whether it is shooting 30 rounds form a single 30 round magazine or 3 ten round magazines really makes no difference and the amount of time it adds is inconsequential. I know this will be revered as a right ring statement but what about making it easier to carry guns in what are currently exempt areas, under Michigan concealed pistol statute, as well as many other states like schools? I can tell you for certain if I would have been at Sandy Hook Elementary and armed that massacre would have not gone on nearly as long as it did. Where is the political outcry for increased school funding to allow for the hiring of armed school guards? It isn’t the first time you have heard that “guns don’t kill people but people with guns kill people.”
Let take a second to go back in time to Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 12 students. I understand this was initiated with guns, however, coming from a terrorist training background it wasn’t the guns that scared me it was the bombs that were strategically placed throughout the school and school property that should have been of a greater concern. Had they been built correctly and detonated during the school prescribed evacuation, the numbers of children dead would have been much greater. So with that said where was the legislation to outlaw propane cylinders which were the key ingredients of the bombs Klebold and Harris used? Where is the education of the school systems to not make evacuation points known which in essence, using an analogy, is potentially “leading the cattle to the slaughter?” No, but instead we focus on gun control.
On April, 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City 19 children died at the hands of Timothy McVeigh when he detonated a Ryder truck outside the Alfred P. Murrah building filled with ANFO. Where was the political outcry to outlaw Ryder trucks, ammonium nitrate and or fuel oil?
So let’s look at firearms for a minute. As reported by the FBI’s Uniform Crime report for 2011 there were 8583 deaths in 2011 from the use of firearms (Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2011) which pale in comparison to vehicle related deaths, according to the most recent information, published by the US Census Bureau for 2009 in which 35,900 peoples deaths were directly linked to motor vehicles (United States Census Bureau, 2012). So again, where is the outcry to ban automobiles? Where is the increased funding to implement local mass transit systems across the country to limit the need for automobiles?
The hypocrisy in all of this is that the great state of California, where Senator Feinstein’s resides, according to the FBI ‘s crime statistics, has the toughest gun regulations in the country, also holds the distinction of having the most firearms related deaths in the country in 2011(Federal Bureau of Investigations, 2011) . How effective have their gun control laws been?
Where does this nonsense stop? First off, like I said I am an FFL dealer and I spend hours as part of my job selling and manufacturing guns to LAW ABIDING citizens who purchase firearms described as “assault weapon”, which is a whole other argument altogether, among other types of firearms who possess and adhere to legal requirements and laws. By passing legislation that is being proposed will only result in, the individuals already abiding by the laws, having to comply with additional steps that are unnecessary and completely uncalled for steps for the law abiding citizens that in most cases aren’t perpetrating these despicable crimes to begin with.
At what point do you as politicians, who are supposed to be looking out for the greater good of the population, step back and quit using horrific situations, such as the Sandy Hook School shooting, as a political catalyst to move forward a personal agenda? To that end I ask that you and your colleagues take a minute and look at the big picture of the events of that terrible day, reject any and all gun restriction legislation and refocus on the areas that really need addressing like mental health treatment reform and increase funding for school security which would also have a greater impact than just school shootings. Some of these steps would reduce the amount of school bullying and other crime more prevalent in today’s schools resulting in an overall safer school for our children and not focusing on taking the rights away from law abiding gun owner to possess firearms that they choose.
Federal Bureau Of Investigations 2011 Uniformed Crime ReportFederal Bureau of Investigations (2011). Uniformed Crime Report. Retrieved January 2, 2013, from http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-20#disablemobile 201301020827291886855364
United States Census Bereau 2012 2012 Statistical AbstractUnited States Census Bureau (2012). 2012 Statistical Abstract. Retrieved January 2, 2013, from http://http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/transportation/motor_vehicle_accidents_and_fatalities.html 20130102083430939524293