An Open Letter to the 114th Congress

US Capitol BuildingReading time – 57 seconds; viewing time – 3:00  .  .  .

Here are five easy points and one hard one for legislators:

  1. Nobody thinks it’s a good idea for violent criminals to possess firearms.
  2. Nobody thinks it’s a good idea for mentally unstable or mentally challenged people to possess firearms.
  3. Almost nobody thinks it’s a good idea for any civilian American to possess automatic weapons. Or tanks or mortars or field artillery or atomic weapons.
  4. Almost nobody thinks it’s a good idea for ever-more Americans to be armed and carrying heat, because that would bring us back to the Wild West days that produced thousands upon thousands of dead bodies.
  5. Almost nobody thinks it’s a good idea for it to be legal to sell firearms outside of licensed gun shops and do it in the absence of a background check. The latest statistic on this is that 91% of Americans want universal background checks. Clearly, this is not a partisan issue.
  6. This is the hard one. Nobody but you thinks your political career is more important than the lives of the people at a holiday party in San Bernadino or the kids at Sandy Hook Elementary School or the people watching a Batman movie in Aurora, CO or the kids at Columbine High School or Virginia Tech or Texas Tech or Umpqua Community College. Nobody but you thinks your political career is more important than the lives of the soldiers at Ft. Hood or the church goers in Charleston, SC or any of the lives of the over 406,000 people killed by gun violence in America since 2001. Nobody. Not even your mother.

So, get over yourself and the importance to you of your political career. Reach down and find the courage to do the right thing. Do what your constituents want you to do.

If you still can’t find the motivation to turn your back on the threats of NRA campaign dollars going to a rival because you stood up for what is right, try this out.

On October 22, 2014 there were shootings in Parliament in Ottawa, Canada. Imagine for a moment that the scene were instead on the floor of the House or Senate. A gunman has overpowered guards and is inside the chamber firing away at aides and your colleagues and his gun has shifted to point at you. Do you think that at that moment you might wish that you had passed sensible gun safety legislation so that a habitual troublemaker and offender like Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the perp in Ottawa, couldn’t get a gun? I bet you would.

That’s right: it’s really personal when the gun is aimed at your chest. That’s how personal it was for shoppers at the Clackamus Town Center Mall in Portland, OR on December 11, 2012.

So, take this on as something personal. Do the right thing before the wrong thing is done to yet more innocent Americans. Did I mention that those Americans are more important than your political career? Just ask your mom.

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Ed. note: There is much in America that needs fixing and we are on a path to continually fail to make things better. It is my goal to make a difference – perhaps to be a catalyst for things to get better. That is the reason for these posts. To accomplish the goal requires reaching many thousands of people and a robust dialogue.

ACTION STEP: Please offer your comments below and pass this along to three people, encouraging them to subscribe.  Thanks!  JA

Copyright 2017 by Jack Altschuler
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7 Responses to An Open Letter to the 114th Congress
  1. Michael Reply

    We’ve told you what we need. We’ve voted overwhelmingly for common sense gun laws. Though, since we now live in an oligarchy, I don’t expect my vote to matter any longer. But I do expect the survival urge to motivate you if all else fails. Your survival. Your children’s survival. Isn’t that enough to convince you to do the right thing?

  2. Noreen Winningham Reply

    I so agree with everything here, but there is another audience. If ALL of the people you cited, who support these gun bans, would just vote for candidates who feel the same, this discussion would not be necessary. Bigger and better ads should not decide voter choice, nor create the apathy reflected in the shamefully small portion of the electorate who actually vote.

  3. Jim Altschuler Reply

    I have taken the liberty of sending the foregoing to Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and to Representative Adam Schiff, all from California.

    We HAVE to make the senators and representative take this situation seriously and ACT to prevent further destruction of lives and families and communities.

    The details, as outlines, are staggering. THIS HAS TO BE STOPPED.

    In addition, if anyone else wants to forward this letter to their senators and congressman, you can contact them through:

    http://www.senate.gov

    and

    http://www.house.gov

  4. Ulf Nordin Reply

    Clearly and well said; however the only way we, the people, will be able to affect the stalemate regarding guns and violence in congress is to really shake them by arranging a multi million march the the steps of the Capitol and peacefully barricade the exit of any elected politicians until they pass a very strict “gun law” including a firearm amnesty program.

  5. Allan Shuman Reply

    What’s left is to address directly the spurious and dangerous argument, that the NRA, and Cruz, and the rest of their ilk make…. i.e., that if we are armed, the perp gets blown away before he can do much damage. It’s a fiction, but it’s a rallying cry of the Right…. and citing facts and statistics doesn’t persuade these folks.

  6. Frank Levy Reply

    One of the very best pieces you have written! Mazel tov! Toda raba, ha chaver sheli (Thank you, my friend)

  7. dominick Reply

    Jack, every state in the union can pass sensible gun laws and regulations, although I would favor federal legislation. However, asking members of Congress and our President, or our Governor and state legislatures to do the right thing reveals an undeniable truth. We have a majority of unresponsive and irresponsible elected representatives in our government. These individuals no longer represent our interests and continue to create or ignore hazards to our health, safety and financial welfare.

    The people we elect to represent us have no legal obligations to act on our behalf. We rely entirely on their moral character, which exposes most of them as self-serving or cowards at best. Why would politicians risk their political career by going against the people who pay to keep them in office (Republicans), or can throw them out of it (Democrats), if they don’t behave themselves to their liking? Remember that once elected, both executives and legislators, under Constitutional law, have sovereign authority to do as they please. As their constituents, we have no effective authority ourselves to interfere with their conduct in office. All we have is “freedom of speech” to complain as much as we want, and wait for the next election to elect someone else equally unaccountable.

    If we fail to vet our representatives to determine that they will be accountable to us, we will continue to have a government of self-serving sycophants and cowardly politicians. Do you really want to vote for a person based entirely on their promises, instead of a commitment to represent your interests? This is why I promote a pledge of honor that you can hand to any executive or legislative candidate for office. It will clearly identify if they want to represent you or wealthy donors who may not even live in your state.

    Government is not the problem – the people we elect to run it is the problem. If you want an honest and accountable government, you must elect honest and accountable people to run it. Begin by vetting your local candidates, where the influence of money is usually limited.

    http://www.TrueDemocracyNow.org