The letter I just sent Senator Richard Burr through his official website

>> Thursday, February 15, 2018

Dear Senator,

In the aftermath of the most recent of the 18 school shootings in America this year, and the deaths of 17 children in Florida at the hands of an armed teenager (19 years old, it's true; the NEW YORK TIMES keeps describing him as a "man," but he wasn't old enough to buy beer), a number of people have been publishing a sizeable figure claimed to be the amount of money you receive from the National Rifle Association alongside a statement you made last October after the Las Vegas mass shooting.  In that brief statement, you said, "This morning’s tragic violence has absolutely no place here in America."

I must respectfully take issue with this statement.  It is extremely clear that in a country in which mass shootings are a weekly event and our elected leaders can do no more than offer their thoughts and prayers, that tragic violence has become our way of life.  Such tragic violence does not have a place in democratic nations whose elected leaders have held hearings and passed effective legislation to limit accessibility to powerful weapons with relatively high rates of fire.  But it has a home here, in the United States.  I notice that as of my writing this e-mail to you, you have not elected to make a similarly erroneous comment in response to the shooting yesterday; perhaps you have come to agree, as so many of us have, that the lives of American citizens are the price to be paid for easy access to weapons that are overpowered for self-defense and hunting and yet would be of little use in a well-regulated militia, an easy access obviously demanded by the Second Amendment although nobody seemed to have a problem with, say for instance, passing Federal gun control legislation (the Gun Control Act of 1968, specifically) following the assassinations of Senator Kennedy and Dr. King in 1968.

I realize that gun control is a contentious matter, and legislation regulating firearms purchases has become a challenge since the Supreme Court's HELLER decision.  It's probably too much to face, and of course it's probably nice to be able to rely on endorsements and donations from those who apparently believe the Constitution forbids any regulation of arms.  Maybe it's for the best you shy away from the issue.  Easier, anyway.  One doesn't take on the office of United States Senator to take on difficult issues, after all.

The truth is, I don't really expect you to do anything you haven't already.  I just wanted to let you know you were wrong about mass murder not having its place in America.  We've had eighteen school shootings in seven weeks this year.  I don't think our children play baseball in school that often, so I guess we can say gun violence in schools is more American than baseball, right?  That's great, isn't it.

On an unrelated subject, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for your measured approach to matters before the Senate Intelligence Committee, and wish you luck with your investigation into probable Russian interference with our democratic processes.  The sanctity and stability of our democratic institutions is not a partisan matter.  Thank you for your service on the committee.

- R. Eric VanNewkirk
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