There will be no nattering about sepia-toned pop culture or baseball tonight.
Like many other Americans, I spent the bulk of my work day sickened by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.
And after I got home, I was moved to write to my federal legislators, calling on them to take action on specific types of gun control.
(Posting “thoughts and prayers” on Twitter or Facebook might make people feel better, but it doesn’t actually change anything. Of course, writing to legislators might not change anything either. But it’s more concrete than simply thinking positive thoughts.)
I went back and forth on whether to post it here.
I’m not sure it’s that well-written. I suspect there are holes of logic in it you could drive a truck through, and moments of earnestness that come uncomfortably close to Lazlo Toth territory.
And, posting it opens me up to getting flamed by random passers-by on the ‘Net who disagree with me. It would be easier to keep my head down and my mouth shut.
But … y’know, I don’t care. I’m tired of innocent Americans getting killed by people carrying weapons they have no reason to possess. Those kids in Connecticut should still be alive tonight.
So, yeah, the salaryman spoke his piece.
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Sen. Toomey/Sen. Casey/Rep. Dent:
I am writing tonight to urge you to support a push for stronger gun control legislation. No: Actually, I am writing to urge you to lead that push.
I realize that the right to bear arms is deeply grounded in the Constitution. I also understand that we will never be able to legislate away rage, hatred, frustration or mental illness, which seem to contribute to so many instances of public gun violence.
But the time has come for us to take the actions we are able to take. As a starting point, I would suggest a full ban on the sale and possession of automatic weapons, with no loopholes, exceptions, exemptions or compromises. (I do not know whether “automatic weapon” is the most exact term for the type of gun I have in mind, but it will do for this letter. My intent in writing is not to wordsmith specific legislative terms.)
I imagine gun owners (including many here in Pennsylvania) and manufacturers would characterize such a ban as an unreasonable, un-American infringement on personal rights. I suggest that the murders of innocent schoolchildren in their classroom re-set the standard for what we consider “unreasonable” legislative action.
I would also expect the gun lobby to tell you that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” This is true if you don’t think too hard about it.
But some guns make it much, much easier for people to kill other people – a lot of them, and in a very short time. Too many people have used these weapons to kill mothers, fathers and children who were guilty only of being in the wrong public place at the wrong time. Maybe we can’t stop this – but the time is past overdue that we buckle down and try, on any and all fronts, with all the strength and resolve we can muster.
I understand this issue is deeply complicated, touching not only on constitutional rights but also on the complex topic of mental health services.
Unfortunately, that’s not a reason why it can’t be tackled. Would you tell the families of the young victims in Connecticut that the problem of gun violence is simply too complex, and as a result, nothing can or will be done?
Doing the right thing will take vision, courage and guts. It may involve overruling the opinions — and losing the support — of people who have supported you for years . There will be political costs.
The costs of inaction will be a thousandfold worse than the costs of action, however.
The trends in recent years suggest that future such events are not an “if” proposition, but a “when.” There will be more mass killings. There will be more days when we stare aghast at our news broadcasts and Internet sites, asking ourselves yet again how such a thing could happen.
On this night, in multiple American towns and cities, there are people walking around — or toddling, or crawling — who will lose their lives in years to come as a result of gun violence. (Some of them may live in your district, not that that makes them any more important than others.)
As a federal legislator, you bear a unique opportunity to change the course of society. Wise, considered, forward-thinking action on your part will literally save lives. Please seize the opportunity and make the most of it.
Thank you for your time. I wish you the courage, strength and focus it will take to help bring this complex topic to a truly effective, powerful resolution.