A Message from Bob Solomon:

Throughout my campaign,  I have been informing voters that I am a staunch supporter of their Second Amendment rights.

Why?  Well, first, because I am.  And second, because I think it has a significant bearing on how people vote.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, a lot of people care deeply about their right to keep and bear arms – so deeply, in fact, that some will always vote for whichever candidate has the strongest pro-gun-rights position.

Often that means voting for the Republican candidate.

But I am a Democrat, and I am running as a Democrat, and I believe Democratic values appeal to many voters who care about their gun rights.  Some of those voters are registered Democrats, some are Republicans, some independent.  And I want all of them to know they don’t have to vote Republican to protect their Second Amendment rights.

One way of conveying that message is to say I belong to the NRA.  I have been a member for over 30 years and became a Life Member in 1989.  I like the fact that the NRA engages in political advocacy to protect gun rights.  The organization has been doing that for at least 50 years because gun owners started worrying about how restrictive gun legislation might get after the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.

Over these five decades, other gun rights organizations have taken a harder line than the NRA, which might surprise some who think the NRA has always taken a “no compromises” stance.  This has tended to push the NRA to take a harder line itself.

Some of my friends and supporters have told me I should distance myself from the NRA, because it seems very hard-line today, adamantly opposed to compromise in any way, on any measure, to restrict access to firearms.

Historically the NRA has consistently supported measures to deny access to firearms to people with criminal records or dangerous mental illness and has supported measures to strengthen the systems in place to accomplish these objectives.

At times the NRA has issued public statements that have seemed extreme and that have alienated a broad swath of the American public.  Recently, current NRA president Oliver North called the splashing of fake blood on the home of an NRA official an act of “civil terrorism.”

Calling the NRA a “domestic terrorist” organization, a phrase I have seen used widely in social media, and the NRA’s own vitriolic rhetoric are both – to borrow a word often employed in international diplomacy – unhelpful.

So let me make a few points. 

For more than three decades I have treated victims of gun violence.  It is more real for me than for anyone else running for Congress or currently serving there.

Picture this: paramedics bring a young man, still an adolescent, through the doors of my emergency department.  He has a gunshot wound to the chest.  Medics tell me he had a pulse until just now.  That means I might be able to save his life.  I take a scalpel and make a deep incision between two ribs on the side where the bullet has entered, and place a mechanical device called a rib spreader, so I can explore the chest cavity.  I find a big, ragged bullet hole in the heart.  I cannot fix that.  Only a heart transplant could fix that.  The nurse at my side, assisting me, tells me the young man on the gurney in front of us was one of her son’s best friends.

It doesn’t get any more real than this.

If the voters of PA-14 send me to the US House of Representatives, I promise you no one will work harder than I to solve the problem of American gun violence.

It does not require infringing on the right to keep and bear arms.  What it does require is a very serious analysis of solutions we could try, and among those, solutions we have reason to believe might really work and then forging consensus on the best way to implement them.

Forging consensus.  That’s what it will take.  And what we need is leadership from people who have a deep understanding of the constitutional right cherished by many Americans, and a deep understanding of the grim realities of American gun violence.

I have both, and I am ready to lead if you give me the chance.


All issue papers are written by me, Bob Solomon. Your feedback is welcome!