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Dear Congress: Eliminating Bump Stocks is Just Step One

Congress needs to take a serious look at banning all civilian assault weapons, not just bump stocks.

According to CNN, Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) is reportedly going to introduce a bill in Congress today to ban the sale of bump stocks, which enable semi-automatic weapons to function akin to fully automatic weapons. Mr. Curbelo told reporters, “I think we are on the verge of a breakthrough when it comes to sensible gun policy.

With all due respect, Mr. Curbelo, we’ve barely scratched the surface – and please don’t let the sanctity of the second amendment be the hill on which more innocents are killed.

Let’s keep in mind that our Constitution is not a static document. There haven’t been many amendments – only 27 in 230 years or so – but our Constitution has been changed across the years to reflect our prevailing values and beliefs, and I think it’s critical that we the people and the legislators we’ve elected keep revisiting this document to ensure that it reflects our modern reality and, to paraphrase another rather important document, the self-evident truths that we hold dear today.

While I understand the common refrain of slippery slopes of lost freedoms and where-does-it-end, I disagree with its application in this case. I hope that our legislators can address the specific topic of civilian ownership of assault weapons without diluting or diverting the discussion with what I believe are false equivalencies. While I’m not optimistic about the possibility of meaningful change given how little movement there was in the aftermath of Newtown, and I’m disheartened that the elimination of bump stocks appears to be as far as Congress is willing to go right now, the fact that anything has happened at all is giving me a small reason to continue hoping for further change.

To be clear, I have no wish to curtail the freedoms of speech and privacy that we all hold dear. I have no wish to invite the government into my home (and if it’s here already, it’s bored to tears at my quiet life). My narrow desire is to eliminate civilian ownership of weapons that are designed solely to kill as many people as possible.

I believe people should have the right to own weapons for self defense, hunting or recreational purposes, but I believe it’s lunacy to consider assault weapons as existing under a “recreational” label. I’ve hunted deer and pheasant before, and I enjoyed it. I used to own a handgun before I had children. I never fired it outside of the shooting range, but I did, perhaps naively, feel safer having it. When I was robbed at gunpoint 7 years ago, I wondered how things would have been different if I had been armed. Maybe I would have killed a man while defending myself. Maybe he would have disarmed me and killed me. I’ll never know, and I’m comfortable with that unknown. When my kids eventually leave the nest, I may become a gun owner again.

I’m not calling for the elimination of all guns, or even most guns. I recognize that we can’t make ourselves completely immune from violence through legislation, but I believe it’s critically important that, at a minimum, we make it more difficult for these atrocities and terrorist acts to occur. I agree with your point that it’s impossible to legislate or deter human behavior completely, but I also believe that a system of laws is critical as a framework, as a boundary, and is far preferable to a lawless society.

I feel blessed to be a naturalized citizen of this country, and there’s nowhere else I’d choose to live. But I believe that we need to constantly strive for a “more perfect union,” and I think where we stand right now needs to change.

I know that hope is a poor substitute for a strategy, and while I don’t have a complete roadmap for Congress to follow, eliminating assault weapons from civilian ownership is a step that I hope we take.

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