Hope is Not a Plan: Statement on Firearms Training Event

This week our country experienced a shocking massacre of innocent lives as a mad man opened fire on a crowd attending a music festival in Las Vegas.  My heart goes out to all who were involved.  Any one of us could been a victim in a situation like that, and I know you join me in sending thoughts and prayers for those experiencing grief during this difficult time.
My political opponents are shamefully self-promoting and preying on the fears of Americans after the massacre in order to make gains on their political agenda.  They got wind of my plans for a campaign fundraiser at a shooting range and complained to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, claiming that anyone considering shooting guns after a national tragedy is insensitive and owes someone an apology.  The story was then picked up and covered across at least five additional media sources including WISN TV, The Jay Weber Show, The Vicki McKenna Show, RightWisconsin, and WTMJ/620.  My event, which was planned long before this week’s tragedy, has nothing to do with my opponents’ claims, the events in Las Vegas, or the gun control debate.  My event has everything to do with embracing the healthy fear that brings about self-preservation, self-educating, and taking precautions to minimize risks.
State Representative Dale Kooyenga and I have planned an evening out at the local shooting range that he, I, and many of our other neighbors often practice at—a place for us to learn about the responsible handling of firearms, to see and use several types of guns, and to continue supporting common-sense leadership and fiscal responsibility for Milwaukee County.

I was honored to serve in our nation’s military where I was first exposed to guns, but I have still sought out more training as a civilian. Several area residents have committed their support to this event… but have also admitted to me that they have never handled a gun… they are joining us because they want to be educated, to feel safe, and to know what options are available to them if they do chose to arm themselves for self-protection.

As one resident put it, “I’m fiscally conservative, but I’ve never shot guns – I’m not a gun guy.  To be honest, I’ve never even touched a gun; but I worry about my and my partner’s safety and for that reason, I am going to educate myself.”  

A woman said, “This morning, Jay asked on the radio if the fundraiser at WFTC is in bad taste after the shooting in Las Vegas.  Interestingly enough, since the shooting, I have been thinking that I need to get to the gun range to further educate myself on all types of firearms and to become more comfortable with them.  The potential for any one of us to be in a situation that may involve a firearm is unfortunately increasing, and even if we don’t carry, to know what kind of weapon someone else may have would be to our own benefit.  The fundraiser is quite appropriate for that reason, and there is a good chance that I will attend the event.”
As we all know, “hoping for the best” is not a plan; but preparedness is.  Despite calls from our opponents to cancel this event, we will be moving forward and I will not be intimidated by those who would silence us.  They claim that “now is not the right time” – but I ask, “then when?”  They will never give us a response and we would never follow their directive because, the truth is, they are just politically motivated to get this fundraiser and any future fundraiser cancelled.  They want me out of office because I have provided a strong and consistent pro-taxpayer, fiscally conservative voice in our local government and they need to silence me to push forward with their own hyper-political agenda.  
I hope my concerns resonate with you and that you, too, will seek out education on firearm safety, without allowing anyone to scare you away from knowledge that could help save a life.