Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Letter to My US Senators

Here in Florida we have two Stupid Party senators who are sounding downright stupid about gun rights.  Rick Scott, when he was governor, fell for the "we have to do something" line and basically enacted all of the Evil Party's gun control agenda for them.  I guess because doing something wrong is just as much "doing something" as doing something right.  Marco Rubio has already come out in favor of red flag laws and other attacks on gun rights.  Same attitude about doing something wrong. 

I need to contact both offices, so thought I'd share with you what I intend to send to both of them.  Yes, I plan to send both of them the same letter.  Yes, postal snail mail instead of email.  They count more.  This is "2nd draft" level, and may be edited some more.  One page is the optimum length for a letter to an office and this runs over.  Some more work may be in order.


In the wake of a couple of high publicity mass shootings in the last couple of months, the country is wrapped up in the fervor of “we must do something” that we in Florida went through after the Parkland school shooting. Those laws have had awful impacts already and are expected to get worse.

The sad truth, which virtually any honest observer will admit, is that these shootings simply won't be stopped by a new law on top of the thousands currently on the books.  Mass shootings are less common now than in the 1990s and society is safer in many ways. 

The two buzzwords being thrown about are “Red Flag Laws” and “Universal Background Checks.”  Both ideas are traps that will harm many, many innocent people.

Florida passed a red flag law in the legislative session in process when the Parkland shooting occurred. The protections of civil rights and “guilty until proven innocent” nature of the laws is playing out already. Just last month, we read of a St. Cloud man named John Carpenter who was the victim of having the same name as someone else who had been accused of domestic abuse. Even though the warrant he was associated by name to specified the residence was someplace he had never lived, he didn't match the physical description of the other man, and it was an obvious mistake, he was deprived of rights under the color of law. He had to hire a lawyer, take time from his life and job to go to court, at his own expense, for an automated mistake.

I'm not saying “NO” to red flag laws. I'm saying they need to have robust protection for due process. We're not talking about a privilege like a driver's license here, we're talking constitutionally recognized – not granted – human rights. If someone falsely accuses another person as a form of harassment, or to associate an allegation of instability for a divorce or other civil matter, they should subject to fines and imprisonment in line with the punishment the innocent gun owner suffers. In the case of official lack of diligence in identifying the person, as in the case with the St. Cloud man, the agency should be responsible for financial damages and court costs, as should the individual government employee who wrongly accuses someone.

The fundamental problem with the “Universal Background Checks” is that we virtually have that now. We have background checks for the vast majority of gun sales in the country now. There's no such thing as a gun show loophole and there's no such thing as buying guns from the internet without a background check. Surely you know this. The only type of sale that doesn't get a mandatory background check under Federal law is a private sale between two people, and even now it's getting harder to find such a sale without the seller thinking that getting the buyer to pay for a background check will protect the seller. Private sales are a tiny percentage of gun sales, and would be the only type of private sale between two people that the Federal law would regulate. Alcohol: can one adult sell his bottle of booze to another adult? What about selling his car to someone else? Both of those kill orders of magnitude more people than guns do.

The problem with the UBC laws, at least in the House version that was passed this spring, is that it isn't a background check law. What it does is change the definition of “transfer” from being a transfer of ownership to being a transfer of possession. If two friends are out fishing and one has rod and reel the other has been thinking of, it's no big deal for one to lend the other guy his rod and reel. If a friend wants to drive another friend's car, again, no biggie. What the law seeks to do is change that for firearms and make loaning a gun to someone the legal transfer of ownership. The stories say there will be exceptions for family but that falls far short of reasonable. Why should it matter if one person loans a gun to a friend for a few minutes, a vacation or some other reason?

Statistically, the best course of action to “do something” would be to get rid of legally-mandated Gun Free Zones laws. Dr. John Lott's research shows that well over 90% of mass shootings are in gun free zones, presumably because people aiming to get the high score in their chosen game don't like the chance of being shot first.  The question is when given that fact, do people change their beliefs and behavior.

blah blah blah


  1. Recently I attended a talk by a former legislator who served more than a decade in office. He said the amount of mail was unbelievable. But what made the top of the pile was a letter or even a card, hand addressed and hand written by a constituent. The topic should be short, such as "regarding such a bill (or topic) please vote like this." No need for long explanations, and your passion is indicated by the handwriten nature. Those were nearly always read by him, not staff.

    1. Thanks for that. I've always heard "emails are a dime a dozen", form letters are slightly better (after they get the same template a few times they recognize it) and a personal letter is always best. The same goes for phone calls that follow a script or template.

      After posting this last night and seeing it can't fit on a single page, I started looking for ways to drastically reduce the size. That won't happen without chopping out my long explanations.

      Although I don't have a bill number, Trump was supposedly going to give the legislature what he wants over the weekend.

  2. Welcome to the "I have two stupid senators club." It has been that way in Kommiecticut for years.

  3. This is a good approach and I might imitate parts of it. A key point that I believe you're missing is protection of the potential red-flag target from biased prosecutors and / or malicious hoaxers. We have seen case after case throughout the country of elected/appointed prosecutors basically freelancing their remit to their own political goals, either declining to prosecute clear violations while making life miserable via lawfare for political enemies.

  4. Rick Scott, when he was governor, fell for the "we have to do something" line and basically enacted all of the Evil Party's gun control agenda for them.

    My political instincts inherited from the great apes tell me that no highly socially ranked human in my tribe is evil. Therefore, Rick Scott wasn't evil, just a misinformed super-patriot. Only people sitting in volcano lairs petting white cats can be evil, but even they probably just had a bad childhood. It's basically impossible to hold a human culpable for their behavior.

  5. You better be saying NO to red flag laws. Anything less than a sincere NO will be interpreted as being in support of ERPOs. Is that what you mean? Do you really think that politicians who seek to sweep up the law-abiding with the criminal 1) will care to get the legislation worded correct; 2) will not expand the scope of the law (as if they don't have an eye on that already)?

    Sorry, friend, but if you are even in a mere way in support of ERPOs, you and I are on the opposite sides. You are putting your trust in those very same politicians which have already shown a proclivity to act wantonly and foolishly.