This is a letter I have sent to State Rep. Eric Watson (R-Cleveland, 22nd Legislative District) regarding his recent comments about gun control.
I am a retired Air Force Lt. Col. with a tour in Vietnam [which] includes a combined 100 combat flying missions over South Vietnam, North Vietnam and Laos. More importantly, I am a born-again Christian. I am also a gun owner. I am devastated at what guns can do, and have done, to innocent, noncombatant, law-abiding people.
The Constitutional right to bear arms was intended to allow the citizens to have “arms” in order to provide a militia for the early Republic which did not have a standing army — nothing more, nothing less.
The unfortunate notion today is that the U.S. Constitution guarantees a civilian citizen’s right to own and operate a fully automatic .50-caliber machine gun or some similarly outrageous military weapon. It does not.
What has happened is that legislators and the National Rifle Association have used attempts at reasonable and necessary gun control as a rallying point to make the average citizen believe that the government wants to take away their weapons; and hence, their ability to counter any future governmental attempt to take away rights or otherwise control their every action.
The newspaper quotes you as supporting the right of a “law abiding citizen” to own any weapon he, or she, desires. This is so they can be sure that they can defend themselves against the “non-law abiding citizen” who can own any weapon he, or she, desires, and end the life of the former.
In other words, let’s let everyone own that .50-caliber and run around paranoid, and invoke the presumption of threat as a reason for allowing vigilante justice.
Recent gun legislation passed in Florida, and now in Tennessee, will soon lead to this if it hasn’t already.
Define for me “law abiding citizen.” Wasn’t the 20-year-old, former honor student, son of a school teacher in Newtown, Conn., a law abiding citizen who killed his mother, six other adults and 20 young children?
Or, how about the graduate student who killed all those people in the movie theater? Wasn’t he a law abiding citizen?
How about law enforcement officers? Are they all law abiding citizens?
Stories I have read in the media cause me doubt. Yet, they carry weapons and supposedly serve and protect.
In short, there is no legitimate reason for dear old Aunt Louise to own an AK-47 with 20 clips of ammo so her law abiding citizen nephew can steal it, kill her and go on a rampage that ends with him taking his own life. I know, with all my heart, that if one of your children had been killed in this latest school massacre [that] your attitude would be different.
It is obvious to me that politics as usual, and overbearing pressure and money from the NRA, will not get a job done that desperately needs to be done. President Obama’s proposed legislation is necessary, balanced and reasonable. It still protects a law abiding citizen’s right to own reasonable weapons, and includes other necessary steps such as better determining “law abiding citizen,” enhancing security at vulnerable locations, improving background checks, and most importantly, closing the gun show loophole that lets almost anyone, law abiding or not, buy that .50-caliber weapon.
Search your soul, Mr. Watson. Don’t let the NRA or the ultraconservative, paranoid blowhard put forward [a public] fear that reasonable control of weapon ownership will lead to government tyranny and suppression of rights.
— Richard Hughes
Lt. Col. USAF (Retired)