Sunday, April 12, 2015

We Need Sensible Gun Safety Legislation In This Country: An Open Letter To Wayne Lapierre

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Dear Mr. Lapierre,

It was with a mixture of irritation, revulsion, sadness and contempt that I recently read of your speech in which you claimed the election of Hilary Clinton as President in November, 2016 would bring a 'permanent darkness' to America.  I must say I am impressed with your capacity for hyperbole.  Based on your speech it seems it would not be an unreasonable conclusion to believe you think that the four horsemen of the apocalypse will burst into the world if Hilary Clinton should become president.  It seems your capacity for exaggeration and fearmongering has not changed.

I am writing to you to express my sentiments regarding your influence on the American electorate.  I do not expect you to reply to me.  And I actually don't think it would be a good use of my time to even interact with you.  Why?  I think you have consistently demonstrated your willingness to subjugate the truth of violence in this country when it suits the purposes of the NRA.  In other words I see you as an empty suit who places greater value in money and the abuse of political power than you do safety and a nation in which all people have access to what once seemed the vibrant promise of the American dream.  I honestly do not know how people like you sleep at night.

I am very familiar with the experience of human suffering.  I have lost plenty in my life.  In fact, I have often felt I have experienced more than my fair share of loss, devastation and agony in my life.  I lost my mother to the illness of schizophrenia.  And then I nearly lost my father at the age of eight.  He was nearly murdered.  And he was nearly murdered with a gun.  And the person who used the gun was a teenager.  I probably will never know the full details of what happened on that too eventful night in June of 1982.

When I hear your exceedingly narrow language about good and bad guys with guns I want to laugh.  Other times I just want to spit.  In my opinion your overly simplistic language plays on the dualistic mindset common within Western culture.  It's similar to the language that former 'President' George W. Bush used within the realm of foreign policy.  In his worldview if you weren't with us you were automatically against us.  His worldview was an incredibly black and white one.  And it appears you are very much cut from the same cloth.

The world is much more complex than you would have people believe.  And this holds true for the particular issue of gun violence as well.  Sometimes I wonder if the men of your generation simply do not want to have to think much.  Maybe seeing the world in a different way is something you see as a 'burden' you would rather not have to bear.  Maybe thinking deeply about an issue causes you headaches you would rather not have.  Perhaps you developed in an environment so contaminated with black and white thinking that it felt only natural for you to believe such thinking was the only valid thinking to follow.  I can only speculate on your formative influences.

I doubt you will still be reading my letter as I write this paragraph.  But I am going to dream a bit and imagine you are.  Here are some fascinating statistics that contradict the meta-narrative you regularly paint as mouthpiece for the NRA.  The following statistics are all taken directly from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence website.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence:

  • Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers.  Amazingly enough this death toll is less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the United States in an average two-year period.
  • More than 75% of guns used in suicide attempts and unintentional injuries of 0-19 year-olds were stored in the residence of the victim, a relative or a friend.
  • People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when hey live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns.  On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.

Mr. Lapierre, I find that last statistic especially compelling.  You see it contradicts your narrative that more guns will make for a safer society.  My father had at least one firearm while I was growing up.  This didn't stop him from being shot and nearly murdered by a teenage boy in his own home.

I have sometimes thought there should be a special form of Hell for people like yourself who spread deceit as a way to serve the interests of the organization (the NRA) whom you speak on behalf of.  Given your penchant for misinformation I believe the following would be a fitting punishment for someone like yourself:

Imagine if, as part of being a decent, upstanding human being, you were required to personally listen to the stories of every single American citizen who lost a friend or family member due to unintentional death due to a firearm.  It would be a lot of people to listen to.  I think the most compelling stories are the ones in which children lost siblings, parents or other child friends to unintentional death due to the use of a firearm.  I fit in that category.

After my father was discharged from the hospital I felt a heightened level of fear and anxiety for the remainder of the time I was living at home.  My trust in my father was deeply damaged by his poor choices and his inability to take responsibility for his bad choices.  My anxiety became something of a backdrop in my conscious awareness.  Not until many years later did I really appreciate how much I had been harmed by what I had been involuntarily put through.  I feel grateful to live in a state whose population is relatively sensible in regards to the issue of gun access and gun violence.  I invite you to imagine what it must be like for those American citizens who live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on a daily basis whose condition is due primarily if not exclusively to their personal experience of gun violence.

I would welcome hearing news of you actually listening to the stories of all those Americans whose lives were not made safer due to easy access to a gun.  But I believe this would presume a lot regarding your character.  It would presume you are not an empty suit dedicated to money and power at the expense of safety and whole families.  Distortion and lies seem to be your primary currency.

If you would like to hear from at least one American citizen who fits in the category I wrote of above feel free to contact me.  But please don't bother if you should choose to approach such a conversation with a closed mind.  I have better things to do.

When I think of a person like yourself my primary feeling is one of contempt.  I never have understood people like yourself.  Your version of humanity is quite foreign to me.

You may feel as if I am being unduly harsh in my letter.  Perhaps you feel I am demonizing you.  I assume you are familiar with such behavior, however, as you showed yourself capable of doing his very thing in your recent remarks about the candidacy of Hilary Clinton.  Clinton is no perfect person.  None of us are.  And you certainly have no moral high ground in that regard Mr. Lapierre.



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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!