Letter to Senators Chambliss and Isakson, May 1, 2013

Here is the text of a letter I have sent to the two senators from Georgia, my home state, concerning their recent votes to block gun control legislation.  I post it here in  hope that it might inspire others to voice their opinions to their representatives in Congress on a topic that requires the urgent attention of everyone.


Mr. Saxby Chambliss
United States Senate
416 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Mr. Johnny Isakson
United States Senate
131 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators Chambliss and Isakson:

I live in Atlanta, Georgia and write to express my disappointment in your recent vote to block passage of gun control legislation.  I am not a gun owner, but I am a father.  And when I first learned of the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, I wept.  I wept for the children who had their lives – so full of vigor and promise – senselessly ended, and I wept for the parents of these children who, in a way, also had their lives ended that day – for what else is a parent than someone whose entire life is devoted to ensuring the well-being of his or her child.  In the days and weeks following the Newtown shootings, individuals from all political and personal persuasions voiced their support for laws that would prevent another tragedy like the one in Newtown from taking place.  I do not know if you were one of these individuals, and frankly, I do not care.  You know as well any anyone that, as a United States Senator, your convictions and your beliefs are, for better or worse, reflected in the votes that you cast on the Senate floor.  As Daniel Webster once put it: “Inconsistencies of opinion arising from changes of circumstances are often justifiable.  But there is one sort of inconsistency that is culpable; it is the inconsistency between a man’s conviction and his vote.”  I assume that when you voted to block consideration of gun control, you did so because your conscience told you it was the right thing to do.  If that is in fact the case, then I am sorry to say that this country is in much greater peril than can be addressed by any one piece of legislation.

To be sure, you have a political career to consider.  And many of your constituents may very well harbor the same antipathy to gun control initiatives that others have to the current regime of loophole-laden gun laws.  Some of these constituents may even have sound reasons in feeling the way they do: the Second Amendment is, after all, a foundational part of the Constitution, and guns, like other inherently dangerous objects – cars some to mind – may serve a purpose that is legitimate, unrelated to the indiscriminate killing of adults and children.  But unlike cars, guns – whether they be pistols or military-style rifles – are designed with the sole aim of ending, not preserving, life.  Yet they receive a fraction of the regulation that cars do – in the way they are sold, taxed, operated, and yes, tracked.  This is simply incomprehensible, especially for a country like ours which so often and so vocally prides itself on the high value it places on the sanctity of human life.

I write this letter to you not because I think it will persuade you to reconsider your position on whether and how to regulate firearms in this country.  I have little expectation that it will; if there were a time and place for such reflection it would have been before you voted the way you did on April 17, 2013.  Instead, I write because I do not want to consider the prospect that the 27 individuals who died in Newtown did so in vain.  I think it reasonable to believe that their lives, and the memories they have left behind, will outlast the career of anyone who voted on the Senate floor that day.  And this will continue to be the case as long as those in Congress continue to act and vote in a way that has made it the dysfunctional and irrelevant institution that it is today.

Sincerely yours,

Albert Wan
Attorney at Law


Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Chris Murphy

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