Dear Senator Shaheen,
Unfortunately, it appears as if you were not executing due diligence in responding to my email. I made very clear my strong opposition to knee-jerk regulation/legislation of any kind, yet you responded back to me in a very predictable way: attempting to cajole me into buying what you believe to be “commonsense solutions.” Allow me to explain that what you deem a “commonsense solution” is almost invariably a measure that does little more than annoy, aggravate or even infuriate law-abiding citizens:
The first point that you must realize (if you don’t already know it) is that gun control–broadly stated–does not work. At least, it doesn’t work if one’s aim is to make society safer and less violent; it works just fine if the aim is to subdue a populace, making them thereby more easily controlled by greedy statists and thugs (but I repeat myself). Now of course it’s difficult to put any society in a test tube to isolate it for experimental testing, but at a minimum you can find numerous examples in the US correlating restrictive gun control laws with high rates of gun crime. One only needs to look to Chicago and Detroit to see that stiff gun control laws don’t necessarily equate to a safer society. The Sandy Hook shooting was hardly prevented by Connecticut’s stiff gun control laws, or the school’s “Gun Free Zone,” after all.
Secondly, why target “high capacity magazines” (which are actually very standard 20 and 30 round magazines, by the way)? Do you plan on confiscating said magazines? If not, do you realize that there are untold millions of said magazines in US circulation right now? There are enough of these standard capacity magazines in private hands that they wouldn’t run out for decades. If your goal is confiscation, that’s a whole separate can of worms. I won’t even get into the difficulty of enforcing said law on a reluctant populace that, with the stroke of a pen, becomes criminalized for doing nothing more than what they were doing the day before. Suffice to say that limiting people to 10 round magazines doesn’t preclude a determined and sick individual from doing deadly harm to many innocents. If you have any experience with the handling and operation of such equipment, you would know that such devices are designed to be simple to change out. A mass murder committed using 1 30-round magazine would not be mitigated, let alone prevented, by 3 10-round magazines. To purport that it would be is either uninformed or disingenuous.
Third, why target “assault rifles” (which is a farcical title to apply to what is merely a very popular type of semi-automatic firearm; “semi-automatic,” one round discharged per trigger pull, is a mode of action that has been in widespread usage since the 1800s)? Do you care about cosmetics or actual effect? If all you care about is cosmetics, then by all means, ban weapons that are certain colors, look a certain way, sound a certain way, or have certain superficial characteristics that have absolutely no bearing on what the weapon actually does. But that wouldn’t speak very highly of you or anyone else that approaches the matter in this way. If your true and genuine goal is to reduce gun violence, then why target rifles at all when the overwhelmingly vast majority of gun violence is perpetrated by mere handguns? Is it because, as I suspect, that these demonized “assault rifles” are the low-hanging fruit of the firearm world? What on earth is to make us believe that after banning “assault rifles” that politicians like you won’t go the next step and try the same for handguns, shotguns, or “high-powered sniper rifles” (which is the term I’d wager you would start applying to basic hunting rifles)?
Fourth, why stop at firearms in the first place? If the goal really and truly is to make this a safer world, and we really should do everything we can “even if it saves a single life,” then we’d go a long way if we banned knives, alcohol, blunt objects, cars, ladders, water, feet and fists (each of these is the proximate cause of more deaths than “assault rifles” have ever been in the US, and certainly cost more than one life annually). I’m not sure how we’d go about banning human feet and hands, but I’m sure Washington is up to the task.
Fifth and arguably most importantly, so many like you make the argument that any such proposed legislation would not infringe upon our 2nd Amendment rights to hunting and personal defense. Whenever a politician says something along these lines, all they do is reveal their own ignorance. They reveal how ignorant they are of the contemporary context of the founding of this nation. Neither hunting nor personal defense were the aim of the 2nd Amendment; this is painfully obvious to anyone even moderately familiar with the history of this nation (which unfortunately does not seem to apply to the majority of this nation’s populace… or most of its politicians). The primary consideration of the 2nd Amendment was resistance to tyranny, be it foreign or domestic. Consider exactly what the Founders had just experienced (or do you really believe the Founders declared independence to be able to freely hunt?). Therefore, it only makes sense that the 2nd Amendment apply fully to privately-owned, contemporary weapons of military utility (what many now erroneously refer to as “assault rifles”). Yes, that means the oft-maligned, semi-automatic AR15.
It’s not that I fear some form of tyranny right now; do not mistake me as the hyper-paranoid sort, thinking that a dictator is currently waiting in the wings. However, such a threat does not need to be imminent for me to understand–as our Founders did–that human nature is utterly and always defined by its corruptibility. Disarmament measures that a nation imposes today may not be taken advantage of for 50 years down the road. The would-be tyrant may still be in diapers as a populace is initially being disarmed. The opening must never be given for such evil to flourish. As the grandson of heroic people that suffered under and fought against the despotism and horrors of Stalinist Russia, I have pledged to do everything in my power to ensure that my grandchildren do not ever have to deal with that horror anew.
A final point in regards to pragmatic solutions: Do not take my bristly response to heightened gun control measures as indicative that I want to “do nothing.” While calming down and “taking a deep breath” following a traumatic event is preferable to rushing headlong into emotionally-charged, foggy-brained legislation, that is not to say that I don’t seek a reasoned, methodical, cool-headed solution. First, while our background check system does a fine job crosschecking for felons, it possibly does a poorer job in pinpointing metal health risks; the privacy provisions of HIPAA are a double-edged sword with respect to this. Second, were “Gun Free Zones” to be dismantled, and armed guards (or even teacher volunteers) able to protect our students, I’m certain we wouldn’t see such brazen and uninterrupted mass murders as we saw in Sandy Hook. If there’s any doubt that a “good guy with a gun” could help in such situations, why do we bother arming our police and military? The clear-as-day answer is that firearms in the hands of our law-abiding citizens is indeed a good thing.
In closing, allow me to inform you that I don’t give a damn about the Democrat Party. I also don’t give a damn about the Republican Party. I will tell you what I do care about, however:
I am an Independent voter that cares about the substance of issues far more than the letter that follows a politicians name. I care that you uphold the oath you swore, and the Constitutional principles cited therein. I care that you are highly cognizant of the fact that rights of the few cannot lawfully be legislated away by the wishes of the many. I care that you recognize your constituency as free men and free women that are entitled to live unmolested, only condition being that they extend that same respect to those around them. And I care that you are an elected representative of the state of New Hampshire, the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die”… and I care that you act like it.
You have my email address; please respond back to me (with something other than a form-letter) at your earliest convenience. Thank you for your time.
P.S. I will be posting this letter on a website I write for. The website attracts approximately 3,000 non-spam visitors on a daily basis, for approximately 1.2 million site hits and 2.8 million page views annually. We all anxiously await your reply.