We sent the letters to nine House members whose voting records have been in opposition to gun control legislation over the past few years. A recent NPR article does a nice job of describing all pertinent federal laws and previous bills, going back to the Brady bill in the 1980s. It also lists how all members have voted on these bills, by state.
I encourage folks to contact their members about this issue. Regardless of how you stand, now is the time to raise our voices with those who we have elected to set policy. Certainly, Pam and I have certain feelings about this issue. Our representatives need to take action of some type. "No action" is also an action; but with this issue, like so many, it is absconding with their responsibility.
The text of our letter follows. Feel free to use this text, or any part thereof.
I cannot own a live grenade. I cannot legally buy one.
This certainly makes sense. A single grenade has the power to kill multiple people. The consequences are deadly.
So why should it be legal to own an automatic rifle that can kill multiple people in a matter of seconds? Why should an individual be permitted to own and use a military-style weapon? Why can an individual accumulate so much weaponry that he becomes a one-man militia?
Assault rifles must be banned in this country. The consequences of their proliferation – their use as killing machines that take large numbers of innocent lives in a matter of minutes – far outweigh constitutional debates over language written 225 years ago. In 1785, it took a person several minutes to reload a rifle after firing once. Today, one pull of a trigger can result in a dozen deaths in seconds.
The individuals who carried out the most recent mass murders were sitting on multiple rifles, handguns, automatic pistols, cartridges, and explosives. They intended to kill as many people as possible in a short burst of violence. The litany of one-person militias is long and violent, with myriad apparent motives: Parkland High School, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Virginia Tech, San Bernadino, Sutherland Springs.
Motives are a factor. Mental health is a factor. Political extremism and terrorism are factors.
No matter how one stands on the Second Amendment to the Constitution, one fact is clear: the United States has the largest rate of gun ownership in the world, and the highest rate of deaths due to guns in the world. Regardless of how we interpret our right to arms, we are using guns for destruction of life at an incredibly high rate.
Our country has engaged in a 30-year debate over guns, one of the most polarizing conversations in our society. We interpret the language of the Second Amendment in ways that buttress our own side of the debate. Every word and comma get parsed, even to the point of arguing what a word meant in the English language of the 1790s.
But there is a large chasm between "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms" and the ability of an individual to become a militia-of-one who can destroy many lives in seconds. Common sense has been lost.
Congress can save thousands of lives by banning the sale, ownership, and use of automatic assault rifles. You have a responsibility to pass laws that protect lives.