Many people – including many in my own family – have been occupied of late with pushing for an assault weapons ban, as I have previously written about. Not the least of these is Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has proposed such a ban in the wake of the horrific Newtown shooting. Her proposal is actually a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton, which expired after ten years and has yet to be renewed despite attempts by Democrats to do so. Feinstein took up the initiative in the wake of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado last summer, and again after Newtown in December.
The ban and Feinstein have been in the news more recently due to a divisive letter written very publicly to her and posted on the CNN iReport site, by U.S. Marine Corporal Joshua Boston. The letter has rallied some support from the right – mostly in the blogosphere – due to Boston’s adamantly stated refusal to submit to any kind of weapons ban. In an interview about the letter, Boston told Breitbart that the only restrictions he would support is (emphasis his) “one in which only VIOLENT felons are prevented from purchasing or possessing a firearm.”
Titled “No, ma’am,” here is the letter in its entirety:
Senator Dianne Feinstein,
I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.
I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America.
I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man.
I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public.
We, the people, deserve better than you.
Cpl, United States Marine Corps
Opinions on the letter are sure to be varied and heated, but I can’t help but think it is totally reasonable.
All the shootings we have borne witness to this year and in years past have been horrific, despicable, and reprehensible, each subjecting us to its own brand of brutal trauma and each more terrible than the last, simply by virtue of the fact that there was another one despite the apparent moral reckoning and spiritual awakening we should all have experienced. The deep, dark, evil reality of these events is felt by everyone, myself included. And without question, we must be doing more to prevent this. We must identify what we are doing right, and stop what we are doing wrong.
But I can’t help but agree with Boston about the content of his letter. Guns in and of themselves are not evil. “Proclaim[-ing] the evils of an inanimate object” is not entirely rational. The common liberal argument – to which Feinstein subscribes, among other places, here – is, basically, “no non-homicidal person would ever need a weapon with the abilities of an assault rifle, and anyone who does is up to something.” Without further information, this isn’t good enough. I still believe in innocent until proven guilty, a founding principle of our country and its justice system. This argument preempts my ability to make decisions for myself, and to do so is my birthright. As Boston said, “I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own.” The idea that these weapons must be banned due to the horrible but statistically rare actions of a handful of criminally insane individuals is ridiculous, and worse, prejudicial. The vast majority of weapons are used responsibly, by responsible adult citizens (this is not to mention the military, which is part of Boston’s main argument).
For the record, I personally have no use for assault weapons, and have no interest in owning one. I can sympathize with people who are scared of them, and question anyone’s need to own one. But I believe it is not my place to make that decision for anyone else.
Ultimately, however, all of this is a moot point in the case of the Newtown shooting. This is for two reasons. One, Connecticut already has its own statewide assault weapons ban in place, and has since 1993. This obviously had no affect on Adam Lanza’s ability to procure his arms. Two, the gun he used was not his. It was his mother’s, as we all know by now. He did not purchase anything himself.
So something definitely needs to be done, but as I’ve been arguing, gun control is not the way to go about it. It misses the point.