February 17, 2018

Dear Senator Gardner,

How do you sleep at night, knowing that the blood of every victim of every mass shooting since your election is on your hands?  How do you sleep at night, knowing that the four million dollars you have received from the National Rifle Association is more valuable to you than the lives of American children?  How do you sleep at night, knowing that you were in a position to make a real difference by working to ban military style assault rifles and you chose to talk about (without funding) mental health instead?

Your Republican colleagues turn immediately to thoughts and prayers, letting the world see what good religious men they are.  Thoughts and prayers have not brought one victim back from the dead.  Thoughts and prayers offer no meaning to the bereaved parent, the suffering grandparent, the confused brother or the distraught sister.  Thoughts and prayers have done nothing to stop the next mass shooting.  We would be better served by a Capitol full of atheists who recognize they would have only themselves to turn to for real solutions than by this current collection of hypocrites who keep the victims in their thoughts and prayers while keeping their hands in the generous coffers of the National Rifle Association and do nothing to prevent further tragedy.

When other nations have tackled the issue of gun violence so successfully, why must we be the the one terrible outlier?  Why must we think it “un-American” to follow the example of Australia, a nation that responded to a mass shooting by banning assault weapons and creating a gun buy-back program that not only reduced the number of available guns in Australia but has so far prevented any further mass shootings.  Why must we think it a threat to our precious Second Amendment rights to follow the example of Japan, a nation that provides deep background checks, proficiency exams and frequent repeat exams for anyone who wants to own a gun?  For that matter, why must we accept that an amendment created at a time when we had single shot muskets and no standing army should now entitle individuals to have an arsenal that may be just short of nuclear, apparently regardless of their mental health status thanks to one of Mr. Trump's reckless roll-backs of an Obama era order?

You may not be able to wash the blood from your hands for your complicity in doing nothing to prevent the mass shootings that have already happened on your watch, but you actions in the future may keep the tally from growing.  We urge you to immediately act to ban military style assault weapons, as they have no other purpose than killing people.  We would urge the Congress to authorize and fund a gun buy-back program, as this nation does not need the more than three hundred million guns already present.  We would urge you to vote “no” on the bill now before the Senate allowing concealed carry across state lines.  And we would urge you to stop accepting the blood money doled out by the National Rifle Association.  No elected official should ever again be so influenced by the largesse of the N. R.A. that he or she would sell the safety of our children for thirty pieces of N. R. A. silver.

Richard Gingery, M. D.
Ridgway, Colorado