Madam Representative Giffords,
One thing I find incredulous, if not insulting, is the constant assertion by you, your husband, and other gun control proponents that the "gun lobby" is somehow acting in abeyance of the will of the people.
But before continuing with this response to your recent opinion piece in the New York Times, I must ask one question: have you read the amendments that were rejected on April 17? If you have not, then your opinion on those amendments is about the same as trying to review a book without actually reading it, going only on what other people are telling you.
You asserted that the Senate voted down "common-sense legislation that would have made it harder for criminals and people with dangerous mental illnesses to get hold of deadly firearms".
The votes on amendments that took place on April 17 covered seven (7) amendments that were offered for consideration. Two of those amendments came straight from Senator Feinstein’s "assault weapons" ban proposal (S.150), which was a rewrite and expansion of her previous "assault weapons" ban that was enacted in 1994 (herein called "AWB94") and expired in 2004. Please recall from history that even Senator Feinstein barely held on to her Senate seat in the 1994 election following that bill, and the Republicans swept both the House and Senate using AWB94 as part of their platform.
Unfortunately with President Clinton in office at the time, any attempt at repeal would have been worthless as they did not have the necessary majorities in the Senate and House to overtake a repeal veto. But the damage had been done. Political precedent had been set.
But it wasn’t set by the gun lobby. It was set by the People of the United States. When even Senator Feinstein nearly loses her election following AWB94’s enactment, that sends a message to our elected officials that it was not something the people ever wanted.
Fast forward to January 2011. More specifically Tuscon, Arizona. I think you know to what I’m referring here: the day you very nearly lost your life, but where six people lost theirs, including a 9 year-old girl, a Federal Court judge and one of your aids. Your husband said in front of Congress that if Loughner had a 10 round magazine, as opposed to the 33-round magazine he did use in the first volley of bullets, that Christina Taylor Greene would still be alive. And it’s certainly possible.
But what your husband failed to consider is that a Glock 19, the firearm that Loughner used, is designed to be used with a 15 round magazine, specifically carrying 15 rounds of 9mm NATO ammunition with an extra round chambered. Reducing this to 10 rounds means that the firearm is no longer functioning as designed, but more importantly, it is now functioning quite differently from how it would with a 33-round club sticking out of the magazine well.
This difference in weight could put the bullet at just the right trajectory to have ended your life in an instant in 2011. That is what your husband fails to consider. A 9 year-old girl may have lived – or she still may still have been killed, we cannot know – but you also likely could have been killed as well. It is still possible to kill 6 people with 10 bullets – another fact your husband didn’t consider either.
Now let’s turn our attention to the expanded background check amendment also proposed by Democrats.
The National Instant Check System, or NICS, that is used to perform background checks is only as good as the information it contains. The amendment that was proposed intended to close the so-called "gun show loophole", despite there not being one as most any place that licenses a gun show requires all gun sales to occur only with licensed dealers. Democrats have routinely used the line that "40% of guns are purchased without a background check", something that has been debunked endlessly by numerous sources online, more recently by FactCheck.org among other sources, and by PolitiFact.com back in January.
Beyond this, one thing you need to realize is that the firearms used in the three major mass shootings in the last 2 1/2 years were all acquired with NICS background checks, including the firearm that put a bullet through your head.
The largest shortfall of the NICS system is the information it contains, or rather does not contain that it should. President Obama is evaluating his options to see what can be done to ensure the necessary information is provided to ensure that all persons who are prohibited under Federal law from owning a firearm are listed in NICS. This is where efforts should be focused first. After all, statistics show that less than 1% of criminals obtained their firearms through private transfers.
But still further, Madam Representative, is the notion of fairness here.
I am going to presume that you and your husband are law-abiding citizens. Your husband recently tried a political stunt to purchase an AR-15 he would have later been turning over to police to be destroyed. The attempt at the purchase was to allegedly show how easy it is to obtain such a weapon without taking into account two key facts: 1. he’s a former member of the military, a former commissioned officer at that, who was honorably discharged, and 2. he has no criminal record of any kind.
In other words, your husband is the kind of person who should be able to breeze through the background check system and obtain a firearm of any kind without any hang-ups. What you fail to see is that with expanded gun control laws, let alone expanded background check laws, your husband, with his record and background, would be presumed a criminal until the NICS check came back saying otherwise. The same with my father, a former Chief Petty Officer of the US Navy who served 12 exemplary years. Like your husband, my father should also be able to breeze through the background check system.
Further, what you also fail to see, is that gun control, the very idea of it, casts a shadow over all gun owners, you and your husband included. Those who are anti-gun already look upon law-abiding gun owners as if we are mass murderers in waiting. They think we are just sitting around waiting for the opportunity to kill people. Those who carry a firearm concealed and have gone through their State’s necessary process to obtain that privilege are also looked upon with similar light, that we want to carry concealed just so it’s easier for us to get our firearm to where it’s easier to kill a lot of people.
And I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to kill anyone. And I detest the very idea that I would be treated as if I do.
One of our founding principles in the United States is the idea that a person be presumed innocent until evidence and the proper legal procedures show otherwise beyond reasonable doubt. Yet your organization and the laws you are attempting to get passed instead want to treat every person who owns firearms or wanting to purchase firearms or ammunition as criminals, without a trial, without any evidence against us, purely on presumption based on the fact that we are or want to be firearms owners.
And that is categorically unfair.
You might as well stand next to someone about to fill out the ATF form to purchase a firearm and ask them, "So who are you planning to kill?" Because that is what much of the new proposed ideas in Washington would do by proxy.
The reaction to the current political climate is what politicians were using in making their decisions this week. The shortage of firearms and ammunition is directly related to the fear of additional Federal regulations and restrictions. The people do not want what Washington has to offer, plain and simple. And that was reflected in the votes this week on the various amendments to Senator Reid’s bill.
You are blaming the NRA without realizing they have millions of members. And there are several other organizations out there similar to the NRA, at local, state and national levels, also with potentially millions of members. Millions of households in the United States and tens of millions of people own firearms. We do not want to see Washington enact further restrictions on all of us simply because there exist a few nuts out there.
Please understand this.
Further, please also understand that politicians in Washington and in many State capitols have already made it clear that the current proposed legislation is just the beginning. The question to be explored is what they have planned next. Personally, I’d prefer not ever finding out by never letting them get through what they have planned at this point.