The issue of gun control was one of the first questions raised by one of the people attending Monday’s Town Hall with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkely of Oregon.
Most of the audience agreed that assault-style guns are not necessary in everyday society and should be limited to police and the military.
Senator Merkley says he wants to be even handed when taking a position on the Senate floor. "The 2 tests I am bringing to this conversation is: what is consistent with the Second Amendment and what will make a real difference; what is effective? Because the bills are a long way from coming to the Senate floor, but they will be debated in judiciary in the next few months, this is a great time to take feedback, and I encourage folks to give as much feedback on a whole range of ideas."
Merkley says a key component must address the mental health aspect, and he's looking forward to hearing a wide range of ideas and opinions.
Many people were very vocal about their frustrations with getting their interests addressed in Washington D.C.
One woman, "Shelia" from Bend, asked for Merkley's support in making a level play ground when it comes to big business versus the average American. "I would really like your support in amending the constitution, related to the FTC versus “Citizens United,” such that corporations are not endowed with the rights meant only for persons, individuals and that money is not equivalent to free speech (applause)."
Merkley says they may be able to curb some of the huge donations through the Disclose Act; all of the special interests and Super PACs would have to be identified in political ads, but more needs to be done
Merkley says he's supporting a bill that will close the spending tax loopholes to be able to fund the core programs that help working Americans. "What we need to do is get that replacement in place for one year so we can our ordinary budgeting process, our ordinary appropriation process working, and avoid this basically crisis to crisis system that is doing nothing but shooting ourselves in the foot. In the course of that, in order to enable things to get done in the Senate to restore order, we have got to fix the broken Senate."
Merkey says the "Sequestration" will do very little to stop spending on the tax loopholes, but will hurt domestic military spending and discretionary domestic spending.