Guns 2: What I did to challenge the NRA

In 2009, after noticing so many gun violence stories in the Daily News, I began to clip them. My purpose was direct, as I said in the initial letter I wrote to my senator, Kirsten Gillibrand.

Here’s the lightly abbreviated letter.

April 27, 2009

Hon. Kirsten Gillibrand
478 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator:

As one of your expanded constituent group, I welcome your enhanced role in our pretty high-powered delegation.

I’m aware of your position on the 2d Amendment. I’ve agonized long over it and, after reading a number of Constitutional scholars, have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the Amendment does support an individual’s right to bear arms.

However, I have also read the Constitution and the Bill of Rights thoroughly and don’t worship them in their original form. They are riddled with unconscionable immorality, as well as anachronisms.

Which is why I do revere the Constitution’s endless mutability as represented by all of our Amendments and vital case law. And I don’t support the notion that this meager and fuzzily written and punctuated 2d Amendment is forever carved in stone, any more than slavery was. I believe strongly that the 2d Amendment is dangerously archaic in a 21st century world.

I think you are singularly positioned to lead a debate on the problems caused by a literal reading of the 2d Amendment. First, as an upstater you support it and, I’m sure, genuinely empathize with people who support it, who want their guns. You can explain things to them and your fellow Congresspeople that people like me, downstaters and enemies of gun violence, can’t.

Second, you’re a woman, i.e., not driven by dwindling testosterone and other male terrors.

Only a strong woman can take on the violent conflicts caused mostly by men. Third, you’re educated, intelligent and articulate. And finally, you now represent a state whose driving intellectual, philosophical, cultural and economic force is New York City – a city horribly afflicted by the violence caused by guns and vociferously opposed to individual possession of them.

Every day I read two newspapers, the Daily News and the New York Times. Every day I see the violent consequences of uncontrolled gun possession, especially in my town. I think you might better understand how deeply I feel about “gun ownership rights” if you, too, read what I read every day. So from now on, I’m going to clip every piece about what [Bob] Herbert [then New York Times columnist] calls our “culture soaked in blood,” and every weekend will send you the clips.

It is my intention to help you view this madness from my city’s point of view. It is my fervent hope that, once informed, you will become a leader in crafting legislation to control, at minimum, the bloodshed. Because I’m an optimist, I trust that eventually my fellow citizens will come to their senses – as they did in the past presidential election – to stand forth against the pathological “arguments” on behalf of gun ownership and support a 28th Amendment to negate the 2d.

One gun at a time, though. Please take up this cause as your cause. You will win many minds and hearts, as well as votes. But more important, you’ll be demonstrating unusual courage, intelligence and plain old common sense.


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