To The Honorable Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives:
I am writing to you to discuss the level of influence by certain special interest lobbies, in particular the gun rights lobby. Their influence has outgrown their value to the general welfare of America, and I urge you to consider their counsel with great caution going forward.
First, let me assure you that I do not disapprove of lobbyists. I consider the portion of the First Amendment that provides for citizens to petition the government for redress of grievances — or appoint a proxy to petition on their behalf — is highly valuable and gives the American people a much needed role in legislating. My husband is a lobbyist, I have been a registered lobbyist at times, and I fully support the rights of professional lobbyists and citizen advocates to work with lawmakers to promote their causes.
However, sometimes lobbyists are wrong.
You all have the difficult job of upholding the U.S. Constitution, which is an unwieldy and sometimes contradictory document that is designed to give the best opportunity for competing interests to coexist peacefully in our society. The basics of that duty are laid out in the Preamble:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The gun lobby, in its stringent defense of the principles in the Second Amendment, has overstepped the principles of the Preamble and fostered a legislative environment that is destructive to domestic tranquility and general welfare.
There has been an ebb and flow in relation to gun control policy in this country, and we are at a moment in our history where the technology of firearms is breathtakingly vast. Moreover, access to many of those technologies is just as breathtakingly vast. It is a testament to our national commitment to commerce and defense that we have allowed the gun industry to create weapons so advanced that the majority of our citizens can acquire a weapon that can shoot dozens of bullets in a matter of seconds.
The gun lobby has worked tirelessly to make sure all of this is possible, and it has profited mightily. Gun sales are steady, new kinds of guns can come to market without limit, and the Second Amendment seems to support them at every turn.
However, I think that we have reached the limit of the gun lobby’s interpretation of Second Amendment as promoting the general welfare and supporting domestic tranquility. We are now a nation where on average 87 people die of gun injuries each day. Eleven thousand people are murdered by guns annually, 19,000 commit suicide with guns annually, and 78,000 people are injured by guns annually. That’s 108,000 Americans who are victims of guns violence every single year.
Those 108,000 gun deaths and wounds are not evidence of domestic tranquility or general welfare. They are evidence of an epidemic of gun violence that you, and only you, have the power to stop.
Going forward, when you are approached by the gun lobby, please ask yourself this question: If I do as they ask, will I be promoting domestic tranquility and general welfare? Or will I be adding to the burden of gun violence on our society? Will I be saving lives or enriching gun makers? Am I promoting all of the principles in the Constitution or am I overlooking some?
The time has come to balance the reality of gun use with the need for general welfare. The time has come to ask the gun lobby to stand down while we re-calibrate our understanding of the right to bear arms and the right to life and liberty. The time has come to make gun laws that promote the general welfare, not the welfare of gun makers.
Rebekah Kuschmider is a D.C. area mom with an over-developed sense of irreverence, socialist tendencies, a cable news addiction, and a blog. Rebekah has an undergraduate degree in theater and Master’s in Arts Policy and Administration and a decade of experience managing arts organizations and advocating in the public health sector. Rebekah also blogs about her life, her thoughts, and her opinions at StayAtHomePundit.com. She was voted one of the Top 25 Political Mom Blogs at Circle of Moms. Her work has also been seen at Babble.com, Salon.com, Redbook online, and the Huffington Post.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.