I am an unfortunate constituent of possibly the most ill-informed and idiotic of Congresspeople: the wingnut Tim Huelskamp of Kansas' 1st district. At a meeting in our town last year, someone asked him his thoughts on gun control and his response was, "We don't have a gun problem." Subsequently I wrote to him about his position, and much later I got an email from him that is replicated below. Since replies to his email are not delivered, I choose to write this as an open letter. The first piece is his email, the second is my reply.
From: Congressman Tim Huelskamp [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 4:01 PM
Subject: Email from Congressman Tim Huelskamp
February 12, 2014
Dear Dr. McGaw,
Thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your concerns regarding Second Amendment legislation. I appreciate hearing your concerns.
I am saddened to hear that whenever any individual is hurt or killed by the improper use of a firearm; however, ultimately the blame lies solely with the criminal. The solution is not to infringe upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens, but instead to hold criminals accountable for their actions, particularly repeat offenders who commit the most violent crimes. Furthermore, like you, I believe Washington and all of America must have a serious debate and honest discussion about what fuels a very small segment of the population to inflict harm and instill fear. This means holding Hollywood accountable for its culture of violence and death. We should talk openly about mental health issues. And also we must stress the responsibilities of families, communi! ties, and the churches to deal with this violence.
I disagree with many members of Congress who believe additional gun control legislation is a means of reducing crime. It is ironic considering many of these same individuals consistently oppose getting tough on crime and punishing perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. Additionally, during the tenure of the Obama Administration, enforcement of current gun laws has declined substantially — and that is wrong. While there is little evidence to lead me to believe another gun law in Washington would actually prevent criminals from engaging in illegal activity — the evidence is undeniable that tougher enforcement and prosecution would make a huge difference.
As a responsible and law-abiding gun owner, I am committed to standing behind the principles set forth by the Founding Fathers guaranteeing the right to bear arms in the Second Amendment. I oppose efforts by the Obama Administration to prescribe unnecessary, unproven, and unconstitutional gun control mandates on upstanding, law-abiding citizens. Rest assured, should any legislation relating to the Second Amendment come to the floor for a vote, I will keep your thoughts in mind.
Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me to express your thoughts. If you haven't already, I encourage you to take a moment to find me on Facebook, follow my personal updates on Twitter and check out my latest speeches and media appearances on YouTube.
Member of Congress
My letter to him in reply:
Mr. Huelskamp: Your correspondence is presumably in response to correspondence I had with you sometime last year, so is not very timely. Nevertheless, I cannot let slide the disingenuousness of your arguments, realizing of course that you will discount or ignore anything I say that may be counter to your preconceived opinions. You are not one to listen to reason or your constituents; only to your prejudices and the Koch brothers.
1. Putting the blame on Hollywood for most of the violence is simply idiotic. While an argument can be made that violence in movies does not help things, we have had a culture of violence throughout our history, well before movies were invented. Witness the Civil War, the campaigns against native Americans, the assassination of Lincoln, the trumped-up war against Spain in 1898, the Homestead riots, and so many other examples. No, Hollywood is a reflection of our society, not a cause of it.
2. On mental health issues, I would agree with you that we need more attention and treatment here, but then you turn around and cut funds that could be used for that purpose. You cannot have it both ways; either fund mental health activities or stop your lip-service to them. As it is, you are a classic hypocrite.
3. You say that families, communities and churches should deal with this violence. Where does government come in? Without government and its laws, these other segments of society have little chance to turn things around.
4. You say that additional gun control legislation won’t reduce crime, this despite the unassailable record of crime reductions when and where gun registration is effectively enforced. Your position is simply and flat-out wrong on the facts.
5. I agree with your statement that tougher enforcement of existing laws would help, but whenever Congress or the courts try to do this, it seems that you and those who agree with you scream bloody murder about abrogation of citizens’ Second Amendment rights. Therefore, I have to assume you don’t really mean what you say. Again, stop the hypocrisy. If you want everyone to carry weapons everywhere, at least have the honesty to stop hiding behind the seemingly moderate view of enforcing existing laws.
6. You accuse the Obama administration of prescribing “unnecessary, unproven, and unconstitutional gun control mandates on upstanding, law-abiding citizens.” First, Obama is nothing if not moderate, and what he is attempting is simply better control and registration, much like that we use for motor vehicles. Second, Obama’s proposals differ very little – if at all – from those proposed by your hero Ronald Reagan. Just as there is nothing unconstitutional in requiring tests and licenses to drive vehicles, there is also nothing unconstitutional in doing the same for weapons which are far more dangerous. In neither case is the government taking away your right to own and operate the item in question, just so long as you do it legally. It is the non-upstanding, non-law-abiding persons that need to be restricted, and this can only be accomplished with good registration and licensing.
7. Registering and licensing does not “take away our Second Amendment rights” but rather they enhance those rights by helping to restrict ownership to those with a good record. Your apocalyptic statements to the contrary serve only to whip up a frenzy with the wingnuts (like yourself) and to stifle any reasonable solution to the problem.
You apparently have taken no lessons to heart from the shootings at Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, and so many other places. You have paid little or no attention to the ongoing holocaust in some of our cities where easy access to weapons results in so many thousands of unnecessary deaths, especially of young people. The yearly toll from gun deaths is far greater than that from Vietnam at its height. Evidently, a distorted view of the Second Amendment is – for you – the only one with value. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness comes in a distant second in priority, if at all.
You, Mr. Huelskamp, are a blot on the reputation of our state. Your extremism and lack of reasonable moderation make you unfit for your position.
Douglas B. McGaw