Unless you reconsider, your choice to stand in the way of reasonable gun reform will cost you many future votes, mine included. You’ll still win, because Tennessee is more predictable in its voting preferences than episodes of “Dora the Explorer,” but your future victories will come more from having divided rather than uniting the people of this state.
I have had the pleasure of meeting you on a number of occasions, including several times at Tremont Tavern and once with Leadership Chattanooga when you served as our mayor. Although my politics lean generally left, you have earned my vote in both elections through your approach and management of the office even though I have not always agreed with your policy stances. You have frequently been an example of attempting to bridge differences rather than resting on dogmatic haunches, but with the gun bill that died on the Senate floor last week, you chose hardline dogma for reasons I cannot fathom.
This decision ought to cost you. I’d like to think you are ashamed, but I haven’t met many politicians who know such a feeling until they get caught in scandals.
Since you’re safe in D.C. behind security guards and metal detectors, protected from the consequences of your own decisions, I can only pray my loved ones do not pay the price for your decision.
Did the writers of our Second Amendment draw a magic line of danger between guns and bombs or tanks, between semi-automatic muskets and automatic ones? The line we have drawn between legal and illegal in the Second Amendment, as we’ve translated it over time and through the many unforeseen evolutions of martial technology, feels at best arbitrary and at worst drawn almost completely by a single self-serving organization known as the NRA.
We have laws requiring seat belts. We have laws regulating the sale of Sudafed. From booster seats to helmets, from DUI to mandatory reporters, we have no shortage of laws restricting our freedom in the name of safety and protection of ourselves and others. Yet, when it comes to two simple gun control measures that have the support of a mind-boggling percentage of Americans -- universal background checks and decreased/limited magazine capacity -- you have apparently elected to side with extremists better able to support your campaigns than with the interests of protecting innocent lives.
Are you acting out of self-preservation, or do you sincerely believe that universal background checks are more of a threat to our collective liberty than Sudafed and seat belts? While the Bill of Rights ignores pharmaceuticals and automobiles, it also fails to offer details on shrapnel, “cop-killer” bullets, high-capacity magazines or the government’s right to regulate and track the sale and transfer of deadly weapons.
In Boston, two young men terrorized a city with two bombs that killed three and injured almost 200. Do you realize -- do you appreciate -- that had those two men been armed with high-capacity semi-automatic weapons rather than pressure cookers, the death toll would have been many times higher? The bombs might have injured more people, but the bullets would have killed.
In some form, I support the Second Amendment. However, I own no firearms, because I would like to believe, perhaps naively, that my safety and the security of my family should not require my owning one. The cost of my belief: every day feels like a roulette wheel where I might one day be forced to wonder whether firearms in my home might have protected us or ended an innocent life unnecessarily. Did the writers of our Second Amendment intend to make those of us who choose not to arm ourselves feel weak, or inferior, or endangered?
The Right seems so confident in what our Founding Fathers believed, you’d think the ghosts of these men had all come over for a covered dish lunch after church last month. Neither you nor anyone on the Right knew our Founding Fathers any better or more personally than Lib’ruls. You cannot hide behind dead men when blocking bills about weapons and weaponry that were never dreamt of in their philosophy.
Who are you protecting? Are you concerned for those, like myself and like children and teens throughout this country, who choose not to (or cannot legally or financially) arm ourselves or our homes? Is your only answer that we should all be obligated to bear arms, that this “right” is actually a hidden requirement of our American citizenship?
This is the society the Right romanticizes. Everyone armed. Everyone confident and ready to defend at a moment’s provocation. Everyone keeping to their own. Everyone’s trust guarded -- or endangered -- by the knowledge of that deadly weapon as a “last resort.” Everyone earning respect via the end of a muzzle rather than with their heads and their hearts.