The following is an open letter I have authored to Diane Feinstein. After reading, if you would like to co-sign it, follow the link at the bottom. Printed copies will go to her and other senators in the coming days.
Dear Senator Feinstein:
I have lived in Washington, DC since 2001. I received a jury summons in 2003 and sat on a jury for a case involving the unlawful possession of a Mac-11 pistol. This weapon has fully automatic capabilities. That means if the shooter pulls the trigger, the gun will continuously fire until either the shooter releases the trigger or the gun exhausts its ammunition. Some people can purchase weapons of such capabilities, but they must reasonably pay high licensing fees and submit themselves to exhaustive background checks. The defendant had met none of the required credentials, yet he traveled in a vehicle with a Mac-11 the night of his arrest. This incident transpired while the 1994 instituted weapons ban remained in effect. However, neither that, nor Washington, D.C.’s outright ban of citizen gun ownership of the time prevented him from acquiring the Mac-11.
Black market purchases by no means alone pose hurdles for gun regulation. The new technology of 3D printing, a computer creating solid parts from raw materials from CAD files, has made great advances in recent years, and the capability exists to print a functional firearm with what you consider assault rifle capabilities. Such fabricated firearms still have limitations, but as printing technology improves that will change. This means anyone with an internet connection, a 3D printer, and the necessary raw materials can fabricate weapons with features and functionality as so desired.
Simply put, firearm regulations only affect those who choose to comply with them. That reality will only become more prevalent in the wake of the regulations you propose.
Self defense is a civil right. How any one person may decide to prepare for or engage in self defense is a personal choice. The legislation you propose compromises that right. In a few weeks, with God’s grace, my daughter will be born. When she becomes a fully grown woman, I want her to have the choice to defend herself. I want her to be able to purchase an AR-15 with thirty round magazines so that she could defend herself from multiple intruders attacking her at home alone. The AR-15 has the popularity that it does for good reasons. It fires a high powered projectile with very little recoil. The defender can shoot with accuracy. Its high magazine capacity gives the defender options that can make the difference between life an death. The defender can afford to take a warning shot, potentially averting any casualties at all. The defender may miss, and thereby need multiple shots. The attacker may not stop after taking only one bullet, or even several. The AR-15 has numerous benefits to self defense.
It is any person’s civil right to choose to protect one’s family with an AR-15 having a thirty round magazine. When my daughter becomes a grown woman, it will be her civil right just the same. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched to demand that the law to recognize the civil rights endowed to him. Just as the laws of segregation, wrong as they were, did not define King’s rights, your proposed legislation will not change the immutable fact that self defense is a human right. Escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Citizenship requires three boxes: the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.” Denying access to a firearm that someone could have used to save his or her life is equivalent to acting as an accomplice to his or her murder.
During prior trips to the firing range, I recall asking myself why in the world would anybody want an AR-15 rifle as the stranger in the lane next to me fired one. I used to think firing such a rifle was a pure exercise of testosterone display. This recent debate, however, has prompted me to enlighten myself about why someone would want to purchase a such a weapon, and a logical path of reasoning has lead me to conclude that an AR-15 makes for an excellent choice for self defense. If the District of Columbia did not obstruct me from purchasing an AR-15, I would own one, but as a person who respects the law, even that which denies me this civil right, I have not sought to possess one.
I write you in earnest to ask that you open your mind about the the ramifications of the regulations you seek. The massacres that came at the hands of Adam Lanza (Newtown), James Holmes (Aurora), Jared Loughner (Gabby Giffords), Seugn-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), Dillon Klebold (Columbine), and Eric Harris (Columbine) have sparked this gun control debate. Those assailants had carefully constructed and premeditated plans of execution. Going to the lengths of accessing a 3D printer, acquiring firearms on the black market, and of course breaking the law all fit the psychological profile of each. One of these tragedies transpired while the previous ban remained in effect. The rest did not, but please consider that holding the standard of a tragedy free world is unrealistic. Bad actors will do bad things regardless of what regulations exist. As a responsible citizen who lives by the laws government makes, I know good people will comply the regulations you want. Blood thirsty psychopaths, however, will not. Obstructing my ownership of the guns you want to ban makes no more sense than banning guns from police officers to prevent another murderous rampage like that of ex-LAPD office Christopher Dorner. I could say the same for the Army soldiers in the context of Major Nadal Hassan.
Banning guns associated with these reprehensible atrocities exercises no imagination, no creativity, and no dedication to understanding in depth what influenced these deranged individuals and how to prevent future tragedies of mass murder. As a representative in a free society you owe the American public better leadership and robust policy. What I express is not idealistic, but rather rooted the utmost pragmatism, because self defense sometimes requires features of firearms you have termed assault weapons and seek to ban.
I work in the profession of software development and computer networking. At the dawn of the public Internet, some approached computer security by trying to minimize the number of people who had knowledge of exploits that could lead to breaching system security. However, they soon learned that the discovery of exploits and the development of malware move too fast for a security model based on denial and obscurity. The computer security world pivoted towards a model of giving exploit knowledge to as many as possible on the premise that more good actors with such knowledge would only make the computer security industry stronger, and it has. Firearms do not differ in this regard. More good actors having familiarity with and access to firearms yields a more secure world for us all.
So many of our society’s youths who entangle themselves in gun violence have their first exposure to guns from violent movies, video games, and gangs. The D.A.R.E program works very well to steer influential young minds away from drug use because they learn about drugs from a responsible adult. Why should we not take a similar approach to firearms? If police offers conduct gun safety instruction, if even only with gun models and diagrams, schoolchildren would stand to have an initial perspective of guns from a point of view of responsibility rather than of a tool for violence.
I did not grow up with guns in my household. I have never shot a living thing, and I don’t aspire ever to do so. However, respect for the civil right to self defense led me to conclude many years ago that any responsible person should have no obstruction to purchasing a gun with the features that the buyer deems most suitable for self defense. I purchased my first firearm as a Washington, DC resident several months after the District of Columbia v. Heller ruling. I completed the absurdly rigorous process because I hold dear the ability to exercise the choice of gun ownership. I’ve heard a lot in the news over past weeks that passing new gun control laws amounts to fighting the special interest, yet advocating the right to self defense is not a special interest in any shape or form. How I or any other responsible citizen prepares for self defense is a personal matter, not yours nor the president’s. The bulk of the opposition to new control laws doesn’t come at the hands of large corporations or special interest groups, but rather from hard working, mortgage holding, tax paying, people like me.
Co-sign the letter.