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Here Are My Guns; Where Are Your Laws?

The following is a letter mailed 28 Feb 2020 to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican former prosecutor and congressman now in his final term as governor. Similar letters also went to my state’s two Republican U.S. senators and the two Republican U.S. representatives from districts in which I live and work.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson

State Capitol Room 250

Little Rock, Arkansas 72201

Dear Governor Hutchinson,

I want you to know I am a resident of Logan County, and that I own multiple firearms.

I own several long guns. I own several handguns. I have owned guns since I was a teen. I stay proficient in their use and safe handling. I have a State of Arkansas permit to carry a concealed weapon. I renew that permit each time it comes due.

I fully embrace the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, including Amendment Two. I believe in the intelligent interpretation of those 10 treasured, 230-year-old sentinels of freedom so meaningful to American society today.

Now that you know these things about me, I also want you to know I am frustrated and upset: Almost every day I read of my fellow Americans being cut down by gunfire while trying to go about their daily lives. They leave home expecting to return to their families at the end of the day, but they never will.

Governor, we take for granted certain basic human rights in this country, freedoms that are not afforded to others in, for example, Iran, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia. We Americans revere freedom from fear and oppression.

But our public servants seem helpless to halt the bloody human rights violations taking place in America almost daily. What of our right to walk our streets without fear of being slain by someone who never should have been allowed to possess a weapon of mass murder?

Governor, what about the basic human right of Americans to go to their workplaces without being slaughtered by gunfire? How do public officials address that, except to offer “thoughts and prayers” after the tragic events?

What about the right of Americans to attend school without becoming part of an active-shooter lockdown?

What about my family’s human right, Governor, to attend our places of worship without falling victim to firearms carnage? Or to have a night out at a theater for a motion picture or a play? Or enjoy a music concert? Or go to a club for dancing and entertainment?

Do we not have the right to live as normal human beings without fearing an encounter with a gunman if we leave our homes?

America needs thorough and strongly enforced background checks of all proposed purchasers of firearms. We need those background checks right now, and it is the responsibility of our public servants to make and enforce such laws. No exceptions. No loopholes. Right now.

Sincerely, Gov. Hutchinson, how can I understand your colleagues who mindlessly resist — year after year, tragedy after tragedy — any attempt to civilize our approach to gun ownership? Their doctrinaire mindset prevents them from recognizing that our society today is a far different milieu than the world our nation’s founders inhabited.

We don’t have civilian militias, well-regulated or otherwise, except among the bands of crazies roaming the woods of Idaho, northern Michigan, Montana. Is it these we would protect? Or will we protect the stable, productive citizens who wonder why anyone needs to own a military-style weapon explicitly designed to gun down a hundred human beings in the blink of an eye?

Whom do our lawmakers serve with their rigid refusal to acknowledge that this is no longer 1790, this is the America of 2020?

The majority of shooters in recent years could have been identified beforehand as risks to society, before they visited mass tragedy upon us, if only we had an intelligently designed system of gun-purchaser background checks and the will to institute and enforce that system.

Years ago, when I applied for and obtained my Arkansas permit to carry a concealed weapon, I did so for one primary reason: I wanted law enforcement to know that I had undergone a thorough background check, including fingerprinting and research by state and federal agencies. In any interaction, I wanted a law officer to know with some certainty that I was not a bad guy.

Unfortunately, since that time the requirements for a concealed-carry permit in most areas have been loosened until they are almost meaningless. Today, a CCW card indicates only that the applicant was capable of squeezing a trigger and paying a few bucks for a piece of paper. It is a sham, a rubber stamp.

Some say America’s mass murder epidemic is due to the mental health of the shooters. I say the biggest problem is the mental condition of politicians who are afraid to address our urgent need for thorough background checks and intelligent gun laws.

Governor, you could be a leader here. You have the history and credentials that would shield you from the knee-jerk criticism that always greets any attempt to modernize our gun laws. Your constituents know you are not a hyper-liberal gun grabber.

At this stage of your career, you have nothing to lose politically, and everything to gain morally. Nothing could be more pro-life than protecting the innocent from wanton murder by gunfire.

Think of it: If you, a governor of a solidly conservative state, were to take the lead in bringing our firearms laws into the 21st Century, you could be forever hailed as a forward-thinking American hero who saved countless lives and improved the quality of life in our state and nation for years to come.

Please be that leader.

Sincerely yours,

Brian H. Bragg

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