Wednesday, September 18, 2013

An Open Letter to Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Feinstein:

Not for the first time, you have disappointed me today and, I believe, let your country down.

We disagree on the question of gun control. That's ok; I have a lot of friends, and some family, who share your views on the matter. I like to think I have the facts on my side, but that is truly a discussion for another day.

My issue with you today is the press release you put out yesterday, calling for a renewal of the debate on gun control in the aftermath of the recent shooting at the Washington Navy Yard.

We may leave behind for the moment that the breathless reports - reports which you chose to pass along, in the utter absence of proof - that the shooter used an AR-15 rifle to wreak his havok were totally false. We may also leave behind your repetition of the same tired falsehoods about the AR-15 being a "military-style assault rifle," when in fact it is a consumer version of a military rifle, that can not shoot automatically, as "assault rifles" do.

What I cannot leave behind is the fact that you put this press release out as soon as you did. In a sickeningly literal way, you could not muster the grace to wait until the bodies were cold before you pounced upon an opportunity to forward a political agenda. I find it hard to think that a savvy politician such as yourself could strike such a tone deaf position; instead of providing whatever comfort you could in a raw moment, you chose rather to stir the pot in a calculating way that, if I didn't know better, I would dismiss as the act of a political dilettante.

As the dust settles we find that the shooter wrestled with significant mental health issues, had multiple arrests for crimes involving the combination of anger and firearms, and was somehow able to bring a shotgun into the Navy Yard. The failures on an institutional level that allowed this rampage to take place were staggering: He should have never had WNY clearance, he should have never passed the background check that he took and passed on Sunday when he purchased his shotgun, and for heaven's sake he should have never been able to bring the firearm onto Navy Yard property, clearance or no.

What we do not find is any mention of these facts in yesterday's press release, or for that matter any subsequent ones.

If you would really display a bona fide desire to prevent the next Navy Yard, or Aurora, or Newtown - as you claim to want to do - you would at barest minimum acknowledge the common thread of mental instability that binds the perpetrators of these unspeakable acts. You would lend some of that single-mindedness with which you pursue your agenda towards enforcing existing laws regarding who can purchase a firearm and who cannot.

Or, you may just carry on as always, and not let pass a single opportunity to make political hay, whether or not the facts of the matter are represented.

I would like to think that the American people are smarter than that; you may find that this approach will backfire on you, as the recent recall elections in Colorado have proven can happen.

I suspect, though, that you will continue with your ever-more-shrill rhetoric about how the only problem here is guns, guns, guns, and how the best way to keep guns out of the hands of the criminal element is to remove them from the hands of the law-abiding.

Because, as I have stated before, you have disappointed me, and you will very likely do so again.