It is important to continue to contact your elected representatives and continue to tell them your stance on gun control. Do not let up! If our voices begin to wane, they will assume we do not feel strongly on the matter. I cannot count the number of times I have used the Congress.org website to send messages to my elected representatives voicing my strong opposition to any new gun control measures. I suggest you use it also, weekly. It is simple and once you enter your information, it will automatically send your message to all of the appropriate elected representatives for your area. The submission page can be found here: Congress.org
In response to my frequent submissions, I actually received an email reply from one person I never expected to hear from, Senator Dianne Feinstein (more appropriately, from her office). Below is the text of the email I received.
Thank you for contacting me to share your opposition to assault weapons legislation. I respect your opinion on this important issue and welcome the opportunity to provide my point of view.
Mass shootings are a serious problem in our country, and I have watched this problem get worse and worse over the 40 years I have been in public life. From the 1966 shooting rampage at the University of Texas that killed 14 people and wounded 32 others, to the Newtown massacre that killed 20 children and 6 school teachers and faculty, I have seen more and more of these killings. I have had families tell me that they no longer feel safe in a mall, in a movie theater, in their business, and in other public places, because these deadly weapons are so readily available. These assault weapons too often fall into the hands of grievance killers, juveniles, gangs, and the deranged.
I recognize that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to bear arms, but I do not believe that right is unlimited or that it precludes taking action to prevent mass shootings. Indeed, in the same Supreme Court decision that recognized the individual right to bear arms, District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court also held that this right, like other constitutional rights, is not unlimited. That is why assault weapons bans have consistently been upheld in the courts, both before and after the Heller decision. I believe regulation of these weapons is appropriate.
Once again, thank you for your letter. Although we may disagree, I appreciate hearing from you and will be mindful of your thoughts as the debate on this issue continues. If you have any additional comments or questions, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841.
United States Senator
I responded to that email, but as I sat down to type this, I received a notice that my email was undeliverable (way to promote an open discussion!). Since she will not be receiving my email, I will post it here in hopes that she may read it:
I received your email in response to my contact form submission in which I voiced my strong opposition to the various proposed gun control measures. I appreciate the reply because, in all honesty, I never expected to receive one.
I can safely say that NO rational American wants something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary to ever happen again. As a parent, and as a human being, I was shocked and saddened by the horrific events that unfolded there that day. But I also understand that those events were perpetrated by a very mentally unstable person who illegally acquired the weapons he used to commit those heinous acts.
A little background on myself is in order, because it is this background which has shaped my opinions on the matter of gun control. I grew up in a household where guns were always present. My father also grew up around guns. In fact, as a pre-teen in (unnamed large metropolitan city) in the early 1950s, my father and his friends would take their .22 rifles, ride on their bicycles to the American River and hunt rabbits. My father’s and my own access to guns was never a problem though, because we were taught firearm safety at a young age, but more importantly, we were taught a respect for and the value of life. For the last 17 years, I have been employed as a full-time law enforcement officer in the State of California, and on a daily basis I am charged with protecting the lives of my fellow citizens. I can unequivocally tell you that the difference between myself and the people that I deal with on a daily basis, whom are committing violent (and non-violent) crimes against their fellow citizens, is the way we view the value of human life. I respect the sanctity of life, violent criminals do not. To assume passing additional gun laws curtailing the rights of all law abiding citizens will affect persons intent on breaking the law is ludicrous.
Now, not only have I read your email reply, and the public statements on your website regarding your proposed gun ban (let’s be honest and call it what it really is), but I have read many of the other legislative proposals offered by other representatives and legislators. As I see it, the one thing that all of those proposals lack is any empirical data supporting them. Some of the statistics thrown about to support gun bans are decades old, and others are results of faulty studies that have been denounced by the majority of other studies on the subject. The very same study conducted by the CDC that you quoted on your website in an effort to back your proposed gun ban actually stated that there was insufficient data to draw any correlation between the effectiveness of the 1994 Clinton gun ban and small reduction in crime during that era. It said the correlation could not be drawn because the crime rate was already dropping prior to the ban, and during the ban it continued to drop at the same rate. What should be considered beyond that it the fact that the crime rate continued to drop after the ban, and in fact, the rate at which it declined actually increased AFTER the ban expired.
Of the estimated 80,000,000 legal gun owners in the United States, only 0.03% of them ever use their firearms in the commission of a crime, and the majority of those guns used to commit crimes are in fact handguns, not “assault rifles”. The overwhelming majority of violent crimes involving firearms are conducted by those who obtained their firearms illegally. Passing new laws that only affect the law abiding citizen will have no effect on the violent criminal, and will only serve to make law abiding citizens less able to defend themselves.
I can appreciate your constituents being fearful of the criminal element intent on causing them harm. But to try and assuage their fears by proposing legislative actions that have no hope of actually solving the problem is nothing but a charade, and is actually an injustice to those very constituents. Rather than passing new laws which will make it harder for those very constituents to protect themselves, why not do something that will actually address the individuals committing these horrible acts, the criminals and the mentally ill that roam our streets. Sentences for violent offenders have gotten lighter and lighter for various reasons, not the least of which in California is AB109, the “Prison Realignment Program” which despite what it was advertised as, was merely a budget cost savings measure and has done nothing but lessen the safety of the public.
Finally, telling your constituents to rely on law enforcement to keep them safe is a severe disservice to them. The cops are far from equipped to adequately protect the public from individual acts of violence. Our (law enforcement) numbers have been reduced across the nation due to reduced budgets at the same time the number of calls for service has dramatically risen. I wrote an article a while back in which I examined the ability of law enforcement to protect the average citizen. I encourage you to read it as I think it might open your eyes to the reality faced daily by the average person, the average victim of crime. That article can be found here: Why You Should NOT Count On The Cops To Save You
I know that some of your opinion on this matter stems from threats against your life many years ago (during which time you chose to arm yourself with a concealed handgun). In my life, I have actually come under fire from armed criminals on at least three occasions, one of which was very recently. However, I do not allow a criminals illegal use of firearms to change my opinion, which is that law abiding citizens should be allowed to protect themselves the best way possible.
I have personally taken long, honest looks at the arguments offered for gun bans. I ask that you do the same for the arguments opposing them. The only way to offer a valuable solution to a problem is to consider all of the facts, not just those supporting your side of the argument.
I will once again be visiting Congress.org to send a message to my elected representatives, and this time I will be including a link to this page. I strongly encourage everyone to keep up the pressure, keep up the fight. We cannot afford to let our voices fall silent!