Let me begin by explaining who I am and why I am taking the time to write this letter to every member of Congress. I am an American citizen just days from my 71st birthday. I am a devout Christian (a white male if you care to know) who was raised by wonderful parents (my father was a World War II veteran). Most of my life I have supported more conservative, Republican causes and candidates although I have voted for democratic politicians in my life as well.
Maybe you’d call me an Independent leaning to the Right. I am the father of 2 adult sons, have 4 adult stepsons and a total of 9 grandchildren ages 29 to 5. I am a grateful American, thankful for the men and women who serve our great country in our Armed Forces and so very thankful for all those who made the ultimate sacrifice so we could enjoy the many wonderful freedoms we enjoy in America. We are blessed to live in this great country.
I have never written a letter to anyone serving in Congress but today, I am changing all of that. I also have never owned a gun/firearm in my life (nor did my father). Let me make one thing clear; I am NOT someone looking to take away any responsible citizen’s right to bear arms.
I do, however, think we need to re-visit the 2nd Amendment, understand when and why it came into being and in doing so, hopefully bring some semblance of order to controlling the sickening gun violence we are seeing in our beloved country. It is out of control and for the life of me, I cannot figure out WHY this gun violence, the mass shootings, only seems to be happening here in America.
Understanding the 2nd Amendment
The second amendment to the United States Constitution protects the right to keep and bear arms. I get that. It was ratified on December 15, 1791 along with nine other articles of the Bill of Rights. Do you see that? It was ratified in 1791, 231 years ago! As best I could find, the actual verbiage of the 2nd Amendment reads as follows:
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.
What was the U.S. like in 1791 compared to today?
In 1791, some 231 years ago, when the 2nd Amendment was ratified, we were living in very different times. Consider the following:
In the first census (1790), the population of the United States was enumerated to be 3,929,214. By comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau projected that the United States population would be 332,403,650 on Jan. 1, 2022.
And this number represented a 0.21% increase in population (an additional 706,899 people) since New Year’s Day 2021. Do the math – in 1791 our U.S. population was all of 1.18% of what our population is today. And yes, we continue to grow.
The original census taken in 1790 showed that 9 out of every 10 Americans lived on farms. We were a farming, agriculturally-based nation with the overwhelming orientation to agricultural farm life. Many families were feeding themselves by hunting wildlife using their firearms. In the most recent (2017) U.S. Agricultural Census we showed just over 2 million farms in America (no specific population numbers) but clearly, the industrial revolution changed everything demographically in America and today we are hardly the farming nation (in terms of percentage of population) that we once were.
The Political Climate
Yes, there was political unrest and inflationary problems in the 1780’s. And, since America’s freedom was a new and different kind of “real-time” experiment at that time, people were unsure of what might happen in this new form of government. Thus, there is reference to a “militia” in the 2nd Amendment when guaranteeing the right to bear arms.
The Technology of Guns and Firearms
In 1791 when the 2nd Amendment was ratified, common guns included muskets and flintlock pistols as these were primary weapons used in the American Revolutionary War. Such weapons like a “typical Revolutionary-era musket” had a one-round magazine capacity, and at best, could maybe fire three effective rounds per minute in the hands of the most skilled gun owner. By comparison, in today’s world there are a myriad of firearms for gun owners to choose from (the AR-15 being amongst the most popular) that go way beyond anything ever imagined by our forefathers when drafting the 2nd Amendment.
I wonder how they might react today knowing that their well-intentions have now put weapons like the AR-15, which can shoot about 60 rounds a minute (without using a bump stock), into the hands of any American wishing to buy one? Interestingly, most AR-15’s come with a 30-round magazine as the standard. Large magazines (those containing more than 10 rounds) have played a role in at least 90 mass shootings going back to 1980.
“Guns Don’t Kill People, People Kill People”
Oh yeah, I’ve heard this pitiful excuse countless times from so many of my ‘gun toting friends.’ That seems to be the best they can do when it comes to how they deal with these horrific mass shootings we are seeing all too often in America. Would they feel differently if, God forbid, one of the victims of one of these mass shootings was one of their children or grandchildren? I don’t know. But I do know this….“People may kill people, but it’s guns and high-powered assault rifles (AR-15s) that give those people the power to kill other people, and way too much power I might add!”
So, considering all this, Mr. and Ms. Congressman/woman, isn’t it time all of you quit hiding behind the 2nd Amendment, see it for what it is and why it came into existence 230 years ago, realizing now that it’s time we pass some meaningful gun control legislation? It wouldn’t be fair of me to make this criticism of you and not offer up any suggestions as possibilities so here are some starters for you.
- Let’s ban all gun ownership for anyone under the age of 21 or require a minimum of a 6-month waiting period for anyone 18 or older with stringent federal background checks required of ANY and ALL such individuals?
- Let’s re-enact a ban on all sales of military assault-like weapons (AR-15s, AK-47’s, etc.). Yes, ban them! And if that won’t pass, ban them from anyone under the age of 25 (yes, not 21, 25!).
- Let’s establish a waiting period (4 weeks) for all “online sales” of all ammunition, especially for AR-15 magazines with more than 10 rounds.
- And YES, let’s establish and maintain a Federally-regulated medical “high-risk” database that would allow law enforcement and government agencies to track anyone who has been treated for a mental health disorder or illness. In maintaining such a database, we could effectively ban ALL gun sales to any person who has been hospitalized or treated for any form of mental health illness in the past 5 years. Yes, we have a gun problem in this country, but we also have a major mental health problem in this country and maybe that IS the bigger problem.
I do realize that we will never be able to legislate gun control in such a way that it will totally eliminate gun violence in this country. I wish we could, but that is not reality. But, it’s time YOU, as an elected official, do something that truly helps protect our population from the horrific gun violence that is killing way too many Americans, especially our beautiful, innocent, young children while attending their elementary, middle and high schools. 90% of all Americans, Republicans and Democrats are in favor of more stringent gun control legislation. It’s time you, as a member of Congress, got off your ass and did something about it.
Steve Kerr, Head Basketball Coach of the Golden State Warriors might have said it best in a recent press conference rant when he said, “Enough is enough!” I couldn’t agree with him more.