Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 107- Open Carry

Dear Mr. President,

The editorial in the New York Times about the 11th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine high school and our continued legislative failure to close the gun show loophole that allowed the weapons used that day to be purchased, brings up several important points about gun ownership. Personally, I've never been comfortable around guns. Both my mother and my father carried guns as law enforcement officers, but their approach to guns could not have been more different. I don't recall ever seeing my mother with her gun. She came home and quickly locked it up in a safe, hidden in her closet. My father was often more conspicuous, both with his work weapon and the 35-odd other guns he owned and kept in a large safe in his study. While my mother took no pleasure in owning or carrying a weapon, my father enjoyed it immensely and was very proud of his collection. Despite their very different approaches to gun ownership, both support gun-control laws.

Maybe it's different, being an officer who has to carry a gun and, more importantly, has to enter any number of rooms where guns might be waiting for them. Maybe it made my father a hypocrite to exercise rights he hoped to see curtailed for others. However, I think that any issue my very Republican father and very Democrat mother could agree upon probably has considerable merit. In my life, I've shot a gun only a few times. I remember the weight of it, the clammy coldness of it, the unmistakable power. We were just kids, really, shooting at a target range in the Idaho desert. I could happily live the rest of it without ever doing so, again. Perhaps I lend too much significance to what is ultimately just an instrument made of metal and moving parts, but few objects have so much intention, so very specific a purpose. This is probably the most significant obstacle between me and following in my parents' footsteps to a law enforcement career.

Gun ownership as a right is clearly a divisive issue in this country, where many see it as either God-given or a hallmark of extremism and few see it as anything in between. It may not be a politically expedient time to pursue legislation to close the gun show loop hole, especially when so many Tea Party members are using political demonstrations as their chosen venue to take advantage of open carry laws, but it is important enough that your administration ought to aggressively seek to see it passed. We can never guarantee absolute safety, but this is a common-sense measure that will make us safer and limit the number of weapons being freely purchased without the background checks and waiting periods that offer a limited amount of accountability where much more is needed. We ought to demand this legislation, not just because it is the anniversary of Columbine, but because it is the right thing to do, especially now, when it is challenging; it is far better to do what is difficult than to wait for another tragedy to compel this action, already far overdue.

Respectfully yours,


1 comment:

  1. I was driving my car recently and listening to NPR. I only caught the last few minutes of it but I remember they were discussing this image people have of the old west and how it was thought men would just walked around carrying a gun when in fact most towns required you to surrender your piece at the border. Gun laws have existed nearly as long as guns. I might be wrong, but isn’t the true meaning of the Second Amendment, which reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" that the right to bear arms is connected with service in a militia no the individual? The “collective rights.” If it were truly a “God-given right,” wouldn’t His John Hancock been on that piece of paper somewhere.
    Hobbies give us pleasure and relaxation, but when we live in a society we must think of the society when we choose to do the things we do. I am proud to say that my obsession with pressed pennies has not caused a single death this year. Should that day come, I will reserve that please to photographs and their rich history. I will not create an island of myself, I will think of the man standing next to me, or the woman, or the child. I will think of the nation and our “collective rights.”