Dear Senator Ayotte,
I have been remiss. I have permitted you to go on thinking that those voices screaming in your ears about the second amendment and threats to liberty were ours. They are not. That is the gun lobby. And the gun lobby speaks not for all people, nor even for the gun-owning people. The gun lobby speaks for guns. I am your constituent, and I don’t see much point in shaming you, because the truth is, it’s my fault you lost your way on this. We all forgot to remind you whom you work for. I may not have a gun myself, but our neighbors like to shoot cans on the weekends, and we grant permission to hunters to use our land any time they like, provided they ask. Their right to have those guns is settled law, and no one is coming to seize them. I’d like the fear-mongering to stop about that.
The people of New Hampshire got preoccupied this week by what was going on in Boston. We were sorrowing and anguished for our families and our friends and our neighbors at the marathon and in its aftermath. But you can’t have thought we’d forgotten. You must realize that Boston did not displace Newtown. You have two young kids, as I do, and so you know that when the second one is born, nothing is taken from the love you bear the first. It only adds to it. I have room for my own six year old in my heart, and for all the ones who died in their classroom in December, and for all the ones who die of gun violence with far less notice year after year in this country. I have room for all of them at once.
I have room in my mind for more than one thing at a time too. I anticipate that I may hear back from you some variety of the slippery slope argument against gun reform. That we allow debate to even begin on this subject and before you know it, liberals are carting away everyone’s granddaddy’s old shotgun from above the mantel. There is no slippery slope. There is no “before you know it.” The people of this country and you in Congress are not such simple fools that we cannot examine each proposal on its individual merits. Having a beer at a barbecue doesn’t send a person tumbling down that mythical slippery slope only to come to a stop under a bridge with a needle in his arm. We make each decision as it comes. We can weigh the risks and the rewards of each idea, and take reasonable action. But we must take action.
The argument that “we need to enforce the laws we already have” isn’t going to hold water either. We can do more than one thing at once. Will you let the perfect be the enemy of the good? Prevent us from taking any action on gun reform until we flawlessly manage all other things? Where else in our lives does any of us adhere to such a strange policy?
When people were dying in droves in car accidents in the 1950s, we didn’t turn away out of fear that addressing it would lead to a ban on cars and a return to horse and buggy transportation. We researched the problem and found ways to drastically reduce fatalities: safer windshields, seat belts, car seats for kids. We still do a rather poor job enforcing drunk driving laws, or keeping people from texting behind the wheel, but it doesn’t keep us from finding ways to make people safer. We fixed a lot of what was wrong, and it didn’t mean our cars were confiscated and burned in a bonfire surrounded by dancing liberals. And cars aren’t even guaranteed in the Constitution.
Place a little more faith in us, Senator. Allow this debate to proceed. Allow the CDC to do the good science on gun violence that we need to make informed decisions. Listen to us when 90 percent of us are saying the same thing.
If we can trust each other with guns, then surely we can trust each other with ideas.
East Kingston, NH