Friday, August 10, 2012

From My Cold, Dead Mailbox

Hon. Mark Udall
United States Senate
Hart Office Building Suite SH-328
Washington, D.C. 20510

Hon. Michael Bennett
United Sates Senate
458 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

August 10, 2012

Dear Sirs:

Multiple gun murders happen with such frequency in the United States that most of us do not even remember the names of the killers – in a couple of years, the names of Loughner, Holmes or Page will ring only a distant bell. Perhaps. Who remembers the names of the Columbine killers? The victims are so numerous they're quickly remembered only by those who happened to know them when they were alive.

Colorado has its special history of carnage - in two Denver suburbs, 26 people dead in just two murderous sprees. Since 9/11, 33 Americans have been killed by “terrorists”; roughly 150,000 Americans have been killed by “non-terrorists” – either by run-of-the-mill murderers or by psychotics with legally purchased weapons.  By any definition, Department of Homeland Security guidelines notwithstanding, anyone who turns a high-capacity assault weapon on innocent bystanders is a terrorist.

In the aftermath of Aurora, the nation’s leaders have surprised no one – the president, the opposition candidate, congressional and state legislators, all have remained timid to the point of pusillanimity, their better instincts hostage to the National Rifle Association.

The pieties and the eternal verities – hope, healing, reconciliation, concern for others  – these are moral luxuries in a society in which rational protections and fundamental securities, which might have been long ago ensured by the moral courage of an intelligent leadership enacting sound legislation, are up for sale to a manipulative and well-funded interest group. Pieties are not the same as sound policies. Public hand-wringing has never saved a life.

The right to life and liberty, unfettered by fear, is a constitutional right of every citizen. The unconditional license to own and carry firearms without wise regulation, without let or hindrance, has never been such a right. And inasmuch as owning a gun is a right, that right is trumped by the countervailing universal right to daily safety and security. That seems the fundamental duty of a government to its citizens.

Sane gun control is not an optional measure, not a legislative frill, not a regional or pork-barrel issue, not a commodity to be traded for campaign funding from a lobby that has strayed from reason, from the collective sensibilities of its own membership, and from any concern for the public good. Many of these murders would in all probability have been prevented through wise gun regulation, education, psychiatric and medical intervention.

The national leadership has in the past mustered the courage to ban assault weapons and high-capacity cartridge clips. Psychiatric and medical screening, regulation of sales at gun shows and internet storefronts, waiting periods after purchase, mandatory training in gun use – these are all obvious places to begin building a nonpartisan consensus. These measures violate no one’s constitutional rights.

As Colorado’s elected representative, you have undertaken to carry the interests of your constituents to the national capitol, to make that institution responsive to its citizens and responsible to its duties, the principal of which is to guarantee the fundamental safety of Americans to whatever extent lies in its power.

It is time for you to weigh the cost of campaign support from a lobby that has proven pernicious to the public welfare against your duty to legislate proper and obvious protections in the general interest. It is time to undertake a courageous step toward consensus among your Congressional colleagues to lead, to legislate, and to stand down a special interest gone awry, a special interest no longer deserving of special consideration nor superstitious fear.

With regards,
your fellow Coloradan,

Miguel de Montaigne

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