Open Letter to the NRA
Dear NRA member,
Let’s start with the obvious. We don’t see eye to eye on guns. Really, though, we aren’t that different. You want your family to be safe; I would do anything to protect my family, too. You want control of your decisions without government interference. Me too.
You also don’t want the government to mess with your right to bear arms. I get that. I don’t want the government take your firearms, either. I trust the government only slightly more than you.
I don’t want gun control. I want gun oversight. Think about it, the government oversees everything from toys to food to medicine. Manufacturers of these products must prove that they are providing a quality product to consumers. Without oversight, America exposes itself to catastrophes like the one that happened in China in 2008. What happened? Baby formula producers sold a poison product tainted with melamine. According to news reports, the formula sickened thousands of infants and killed at least 60 babies.
A government with no oversight is a delinquent government. I think we both agree that selling guns to anyone and everyone is problematic. Gun shops shouldn’t sell weapons to terrorists. You’ve got to prove that you’re on the up and up to own a gun.
Been incarcerated? No guns. Mental illness? No guns.
I live in California and there are fewer loopholes for ex-convicts and mentally unstable people to own guns. Unlike the supermajority of states, California requires background checks at gun shows.
Alas, in neighboring states like Arizona, mentally unstable citizens can walk into a gun show and, no questions asked, purchase a semi-automatic rifle. In fact, Jared Lee Loughner — a man who killed six people when he attempted to assassinate then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in January of 2011 — could have purchased his guns at aforementioned gun shows without a single background check. Loughner, you remember, shot and killed 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Greene.
I understand that the NRA fights to insure your right to bear arms. Unfortunately, the NRA also supports Loughner’s rights. In fact, your NRA membership fees contribute to Loughner-abetting laws. Can we — two logical, mentally stable, record-free human beings — agree that people with predisposed mental illness like Loughner should lose his second amendment rights? Can’t we agree that Christina Taylor-Green’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness usurps Loughner’s alleged amendment-given right to carry weapons of mass destruction?
Personally, I have chosen not to keep firearms in my house. The idea of having such a dangerous weapon around my children is not an acceptable risk, and the risks are considerable. The fact that 3-year-olds can operate a gun is anathema to me. A three-year-old can’t drive a car; her legs can’t reach the pedals. Yet, gun manufacturers have created a product that has been picked up and used by preschoolers on a regular basis. In the past year, 259 children have died from guns, according to an exhaustive study performed my The New York Times (the number is likely higher since the way these shootings are classified differ widely from one jurisdiction to another). One such fatality was 3-year-old Ryder Rozier of Oklahoma. He shot and killed himself earlier this year when he found an unsecured gun at his uncle’s house.
I know where you’re going with this: you are far more responsible than the aforementioned statistics and examples. You’re confident that your children will never, ever get a hold of your guns. You are extremely careful about how you store firearms. You want guns to protect yourself, your family. I get that, too.
I understand the confidence in your abilities. However, when you collect dozens of guns—semi-automatics intended for war—you must take on a much larger responsibility: the responsibility of your community. That’s why you should pay exorbitant insurance premiums to keep a weapon cache usually only found in video games. That’s why you should be responsible not just for yourself, but for everyone in your household. If a person living in your house is at risk, you too should compromise your second-amendment rights. Keep the guns elsewhere or don’t have them at all.
That’s what Nancy Lanza should have done.
She was convinced that she could handle guns and her son’s mental illness. One year ago, her son Adam Lanza shot and killed her. He then took the guns to Sandy Hook Elementary and killed 6 more adults and 20 children. Nancy Lanza was convinced that she could take care of her son.
Nancy Lanza should serve as a caveat to you and the organization to which you subscribe. Ms. Lanza failed her community when she brought all those weapons into her house. She failed herself; she failed her son; she failed Sandy Hook.
We both have strong views. We both are confident in our beliefs. We are both like Nancy Lanza.
No doubt you disagree with me. You probably absolve Ms. Lanza of wrongdoing.
David Weinshilboum, who kind of expects classy threats from those who disagree with him, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.