The Time for Accountability with Firearms is Now

In Texas, if a child takes a firearm of their parent or guardian, the parent or guardian is responsible. However, there is a rather large loophole in this law. If a child is 16 or under 18, the parent or guardian is no longer responsible. Also, minors cannot purchase firearms in Texas under most circumstances. 

Yet again, it comes down to personal accountability and responsibility of firearms. A ban on weapons would have not stopped this terrorist act, as this was just a shotgun. 

At some point, all of the people supporting the Second Amendment and all of the people that want to minimize gun violence in America, especially at our schools, must come together. I stand with both. Some people refuse to do so. Those that do not aren’t really in the conversation. 

  • For many Republicans this is a difficult choice as they fear going against the NRA, the angry base, or being primaried, forgetting the lives of the children and families they represent.
  • For many Democrats it is a difficult choice to not get everything they want and risk upsetting the base. 

For me it is very simple.

The status quo continues to grow the number of body bags in our schools.

Doing nothing, the NRA and gun manufacturers approach, has not worked. 

The time is now to stop listening to special interest groups and start working on simple measures that can give law enforcement the tools to make those who aren’t responsible with their firearms to be held accountable.

The time is now to start listening to each other. Those that own guns and are responsible are not the enemy. Those that want to do something about gun violence are not the enemy. We’re actually on the same page. 

Let’s work together and stop listening to the most shrill, loud voices on this issue and get down to the business of the American people and start working to solve our nation’s problems.

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Middle East Diplomatic Vacuum

Now that the dust is settling after the military response to the chemical weapons attack in Syria, it’s a good time to examine the elements that would help and that are hindering progress in the country and the region.

The lack of a diplomatic presence in the region is harming our efforts considerably.

Regardless of the results of the missile strikes, without a diplomatic strategy there is no chance for success.

Add to that reality 25% budget cuts for the State Department and a mass exodus of career diplomats, the damage being done to our ability to bring to bear all of our tools is significant.

The ambassadorships in Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey are all vacant with no nominees even slated. This signals disinterest in the diplomatic process as well as the region.  This is fostering a laissez-faire environment that Assad and Putin have been capitalizing on for well over a year, much like Putin did in Crimea and the Ukraine. 

A sadistic cycle has been churning in Syria for years. The Arab Spring saw hope flourish only to be met with violence, terror, and a vacuum that allowed ISIS to break ground. With years of patience and dedicated efforts by two administrations, the hold ISIS has there is nearly gone.

13 million Syrians are refugees, and no end is in sight for the civil war and violence that has become their daily lives. Barred from entering America, the burdens being placed on our allies in the Middle East and Europe are growing. 

Thankfully, our military always rises to the occasion when given achievable, short-term objectives. They deserve our respect and gratitude for always doing what is asked of them.

It would be better to only utilize our military as a last resort.

Increasingly in the Middle East, it’s our only resort. 

We have to change that by reinvesting in diplomatic efforts, reconnecting with our allies, and having Congress actually do their jobs instead of using every opportunity to avoid accountability and their constitutional responsibilities. 

  • Let’s actually have a robust debate on the House floor.
  • Let’s have our representatives go out into their districts and listen to what their constituents have to say.
  • Let’s have our elected officials listen to veterans who still aren’t receiving the care they deserve. 

We need all hands on deck instead of shortchanging our troops and expecting them to carry the load every single time.

By not even slating nominees for ambassadorships throughout the Middle East, we’re setting ourselves up for escalating conflicts and less communication.

It’s about time Congress stood up and demanded action.

From the hollowing out of the State Department to the continued struggles at the VA, when are the People going to hold Congress accountable?

Responding to Syrian Chemical Attack

This is the centennial anniversary of the armistice ending World War I, where chemical weapons were first used on a large scale.

And, 100 years later, the Syrian people have become victims of another chemical weapons attack.

The Assad regime has done this too many times.

When Assad did this during the Obama administration, I thought military action was justified. Congress flinched as did the President. When this happened last year, the Trump administration waited too long, allowing Assad to move his air force units elsewhere, making the strikes less effective.

As someone with a degree in Chemistry, I can attest to the destructive power of chemical weapons. I’ve seen firsthand what can happen when a bromine vapor cloud is unleashed in a laboratory. Chlorine gas is far more deadly.

There is a reason the use of chemical weapons is prohibited under the Chemical Weapons Convention. These weapons are designed to injure, kill, and terrorize people.

In the lab, the bromine cloud came right out of a flask. I’ll never forget it. Someone screamed, we all ran, and they had to go back in wearing suits to disarm it. It was intense.

Chemical weapons are far worse. These are designed to kill. You can’t breathe, you begin to choke, foaming at the mouth. If you’re lucky, the gas will penetrate your blood brain barrier. Why would this be lucky? Because then you enter a coma and might just survive.

It’s deeply disturbing to know this has been allowed to take place again on our planet to civilian populations.

By allowing these regimes to use these weapons without exacting an extremely high cost, we’re sending a message to other hostile regimes that we will look the other way while their innocent civilians are tortured and slaughtered.

This is not about politics. This is about safety and security. 

We don’t have to decapitate a regime. We don’t have to further entrench ourselves into Syria. We can unleash our Air Force and Navy on Syrian Air Force targets, decimating them, eliminating the threat to the civilian population. 

Image Courtesy Reuters

Firearms, Rights, Action

In the last two weeks and wherever I go, the issue of gun violence has been raised. It’s a serious problem in our country. We have to be honest with ourselves as a Democratic Party as well as with the members of the communities we visit.

For a few, some types of firearms are simply more important than children.

That’s just a reality that has been pounded into them by organizations supporting gun manufacturers and not the Second Amendment.

And, I’m a supporter of all of our rights not special interests.

To the majority of Americans, universal background checks should have been made law at least a decade ago. Yet, nothing meaningful can pass Congress.

To the majority of Americans, allowing assault-type rifles to be purchased by teenagers doesn’t make sense. Yet, nothing can even pass the Florida legislature where 17 just lost their lives in a school shooting. The shooter obtained his firearms legally even after threatening to shoot up the school repeatedly.

Before that, 49 people lost their lives in Florida in the Pulse nightclub shooting by someone who had threatened to shoot up a school in 2007. Also, red flags were raised when he pursued a career in law enforcement. Yet, he was still able to legally purchase a semi-automatic rifle.

People love their firearms. And, they have a right to own firearms.

Do they have a right to own any type of firearm?

That should be an open debate.

Some types of weaponry should have higher classifications, require more training and background checks, and have some sort of liability insurance attached to ownership.

There is even new 3D print technology that is able to reproduce the parts of some of these firearms. People can purchase many of these firearms without any registration and without any background check. Does that make any sense?

However, the majority of Americans may agree on what should have been done for years, they just don’t stand up and speak out about these issues in public and on social media. I get it. It’s not easy. The gun manufacturing lobby has done an amazing job using not for profit status to push propaganda that many have bought wholesale and perpetuate everywhere boastfully and loudly.

That doesn’t mean we sit down and shut up. 

There’s little Congress can do if they don’t hear from each of you. I’m not talking about party affiliation. I’m talking about Americans.

Call your local elected officials.

Show up at county board meetings and city council meetings.

Demand action. 

What are the chances that Congress is going to get its act together on guns when so many are in the pockets of the gun manufacturing lobby?

Start locally. Call your federal and state representatives.

Change starts with each of us. 

That’s why I’m running for U.S. Congress. To be the change I wasn’t seeing in Washington, D.C. and the change each of us deserves. Representation is for the People and by the People.

Your voices matter. It’s about time your voices are heard.

School Threats and the Gun Debate

A number of our schools in Central and Southern Illinois have been receiving threats or rumors of threats in the wake of the Florida school shooting.
School administrators are working with local law enforcement, and parents are often left with little clear information. This obviously leaves them concerned for the safety and well-being of their children.
This is why instead of this onslaught of one side pitting neighbor against neighbor, party vs. party about gun rights and gun control we should be finding some common ground on how to move forward to better protect our schools and communities.
I’m tired of the ‘for or against’ culture in America
because it doesn’t serve anyone.
Special interests and the loudest, most belligerent voices
end up winning instead of the American People.
Isn’t it about time we do something different in America that serves our future?

‘Pray the Gay Away’ Still a Threat

“Tonight the (Madison) county board will be voting to appoint a proponent of “pray away the gay” Christian counseling to the county mental health board.”

– Madison County resident

This sort of ilk is why I got involved in politics at Rose-Hulman and in the Terre Haute community back in the 90s.

To stand up to bigotry and oppression in all its forms.

This is not the Christian faith I was raised to believe. 

There are some that strive to demonize, castigate, and perpetuate subclasses of humanity in order to raise their own stature above others. This behavior is the reason why children, adolescents, and adults are traumatized, roughed up, and killed. This behavior is why Ryan White was cast out of his home when he was suffering from HIV and AIDS.

There’s not one aspect of Jesus Christ, his compassion, the way he lived and certainly not the way he died that matches up with this style of virulent rhetoric.

We must stand up to this extremist version of Christianity because it’s not helping anyone. It’s dividing our communities when we should be coming together. Poverty is increasing. Hunger is increasing. What are we going to do about those issues?

Jesus reached out his hand to those in need, to those that society had cast aside, to those deemed undesirable and most vulnerable. Where has that brand of Christianity gone to in some American churches today? He lived and died to benefit the lives of all beings. Why aren’t we doing more to help others today?

That’s why I’m in this race, to do something about our common struggles. To stand up to the politics of division and hatred. 

Enough is Enough!

Building a Better Campaign

I want to thank every single contributor, every single person who has donated time, resources, and their experiences to this campaign. Our End of Year financial report defied all expectations! It means a great deal to me, but it means more to the People of the 15th District.

We’re Fighting for the 15th because we know we deserve better!

Better wages, better healthcare, better schools, better infrastructure. 

We need more opportunities for students as they graduate. We need more support and revenue for our small businesses, farmers, town and county governments. We need new industries, new innovation, and we need more of you to become involved in this growing movement to not only transform our district but our politics as well.

The reason I ask for your support is that I’ve not only cared about our common struggles but I’ve fought to change the status quo throughout my life.

I’ve also been a frugal politician that has run my campaign like a business. That’s what you should expect from your representative.

We’ve raised nearly $6,000 in just 6 months. That’s not a lot when compared to Rep. Shimkus’ special interest money, but it is more than our opponent in the primary has raised in a year.

We also have more cash on hand as well, because I spend only the money necessary to reach the citizens of this district. I also spend campaign monies at great Illinois union businesses that do amazing work every day.

One thing I will never do is loan our campaign any money. My primary opponent has loaned his campaign over $12,000. That’s nearly triple what he’s raised. We all make choices, but that’s just a bridge too far for me.

I would never want the hard working people who have contributed to our campaign to bear the weight of campaign debt.

Our team is working hard to reach workers, families, and citizens wherever they are because we care deeply about the issues that you care about.

Our communities have been left behind by both parties for far too long. We are working hard to change that course.

We offer a transformative approach to campaigning and policy that will improve the lives of the People of the 15th District. We’re doing this by listening to you, learning from your experiences and the amazing wealth of knowledge and wisdom that hasn’t been heard in Washington for too long.

I’ll stand up for you and be your voice as your representative.

Join us as we move this district and this region forward! 

Contribute Today!