An open letter to Senator Feinstein

The Honorable Diane Feinstein
331 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

I would like to share my thoughts regarding any upcoming legislation regarding firearms.

It is no surprise that many Americans disagree with your stance regarding the government’s role towards its citizens and firearms. But I think there may be some misunderstandings that I might be able to clarify.

An average citizen who owns a firearm has a particular way of looking at the world, and that firearm fits into that worldview. Our world comprises a vast range of ideas, emotions, acts, intentions, and possibilities, good and evil, and an indeterminate amount of risk. A firearm, then, becomes a very real reminder that civilization is always challenged on two fronts: by barbarism on one side, and by tyranny on the other, and that there is a certain amount of responsibility that is acknowledged by the bearer of such a weapon that both such dangers can literally be within firing range. The firearm just happens to be the current instrument of choice; we have not always had firearms, but we have always had to confront barbarity and tyranny, sometimes on the personal level. And those people who have an interest in firearms do not see an acknowledgement of that reality by those who advocate greater regulation of firearms. It is seen as a denial of a duty that has existed as long as humanity itself. They regard the Second Amendment not as the creation of a right but as a recognition of a right that every human has.

And I would venture to guess that many of these Americans do not know just how perilous life is outside of the States. We do not live in neighborhoods with armed security, where every home is protected by an eight-to-ten foot fence topped with razor wire, broken glass bottles, or electric fencing, with a metal gate that prevents unauthorized vehicular entry. We do not live, as South Africa does, in a nightmare where every single citizen has either been the victim of a violent crime or knows someone firsthand who has been the victim of violent crime. Even those who do not know of the reality of a huge swath of the world recognize that the capacity to defend one’s home and family is greatly enhanced by the capacity to own firearms, even those such as AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles. The more that guns are eliminated, the more our homes will become fortresses.

So they tend to view further restrictions on firearms not as a strengthening of a society, but a weakening of society, because civilization itself is maintained primarily by individuals. They do not accept that we are made better by such a move, because the results will never match the intentions, no matter how caring.

There is one other point that many Americans feel is lost on those who advocate further comprehensive firearms reform. Many of them, if not most of them, have a real problem with law-abiding gun owners being regarded (and in some cases treated) like law-breaking gun users. Many of them feel that it is supremely unfair and uncivil to fail to distinguish between the lawful and the lawless concerning guns, and when that distinction fails to be acknowledged, they ascribe it to a sort of moral relativism on the part of those who make that claim. And I think they have a point: when those who abide by the law are regarded no differently than those who ignore it, there is reason for concern, because it comes from a morally colorblind worldview. That worldview is disturbing to those who see firearms as a critical instrument in upholding a civil society, because it suggests that there is a fundamental amorality at work. Since the Connecticut shooting that apprehension has been well-founded. It smells like tyranny, of a government that does not trust its citizenry.

That’s all, I suppose. I am just a citizen, you are an elected official, and elections have consequences. Nevertheless, I felt it worthwhile to share my thoughts on the matter.

Respectfully yours,