The ongoing and never-ending battle on the topic of guns and what to do about them has led to some very clear distinctions between factions.
On Side 1, you have gun lovers and personal rights zealots who claim the 2nd Amendment as their bible and see in it a mandate to own any gun they desire without restriction or regulation.
On Side 2, you have public safety advocates (many of whom own guns and are members of the NRA), who not only interpret the 2nd Amendment differently, but believe responsible gun ownership comes with an ancillary responsibility to the community (interpreted as homes, neighborhoods, states; the country as a whole).
Somewhere in the middle, you’ve got….wait – there is no “somewhere in the middle.” There are only these two sides. So let’s be clear: any story we report about the issue of guns will be about someone on either Side 1 or Side 2.
And this story is about someone on Side 1.
Cpl. Joshua Boston, from what is discoverable on the Internet, is a former U.S. Marine, deployed to Afghanistan from 2004 to 2012. We know this because Cpl. Boston, from wherever it is he writes his letters, wrote one to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in protest of her effort to get assault weapons once again banned, a push that was started after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012.
On December 22, 2012, Cpl. Boston wrote the following letter titled “No ma’am” and posted on his newly-created (as of 12.21.12) profile at CNNiReport under his screenname, joshdb50. CNNiReport is a community interactive reporting site hosted by CNN; when Boston’s letter was uploaded, they ran it. Given its clear contribution to the stance of Side 1, it went viral (Side 1 is a very active side). The letter in its entirety, without corrections, is as follows:
Senator Dianne Feinstein,
I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed, as I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own. Nor do I think it prudent to tell you what I own so that it may be taken from me by a group of people who enjoy armed protection yet decry me having the same a crime. You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years, and I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.
I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant. I am the flesh and blood of America. I am the man who fought for my country. I am the man who learned. I am an American. You will not tell me that I must register my semi-automatic AR-15 because of the actions of some evil man.
I will not be disarmed to suit the fear that has been established by the media and your misinformation campaign against the American public.
We, the people, deserve better than you.
Respectfully Submitted, Joshua Boston, Cpl, United States Marine Corps 2004-2012
Conservatives, Tea Partiers, the NRA, general gun lovers, and government conspiracists who insist, against logic, that everyone is trying to confiscate ALL their guns (read: Top 10 Things Gun Lovers DON’T Need To Fear) are gleefully sharing joshdb50’s missive (Glenn Becks’s site The Blaze, suggested their readers “share it with others”). They’re thrilled by his message and the aggressive tone he takes with Feinstein, certainly not a popular figure on the Right (if I was a Side 1’er, I’d probably feel the same).
But as a member of Side 2, I’m compelled to address a few of the points in joshdb50’s letter because…well, they deserve response:
1. “I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed.”
As Americans who live in this country and share both its bounty and its laws, we are all required to follow even those laws we might grumble about; that’s called civic living. That’s also called being a law-abiding citizen. I get the registration annoyance. It’s a pain, it might feel intrusive, but we all have to register all sorts of things we might resent registering that the government believes is in the community’s best interest. So we do. We register cars, marriage licenses, the births of children, the deaths of family members, school compliance, drivers licenses, wild animals, etc. And we register guns.
As Americans, we don’t get to pick and choose which laws to follow. You say, joshbd50, that “I will not register my weapons should this bill be passed,” and I say, hey buddy, those “freedoms” you told Senator Feinstein you were fighting for? Those freedoms come with the responsibility of being a lawful citizen. If a law passes that says assault weapons must be registered, you either act like a lawful citizen and get it done, or you’re a law-breaker and vulnerable to the consequences. If you don’t want to comply with the laws of the country, well…you know you have the choice to live somewhere else. That’s the way it goes for all of us. You’re not an exception.
2. “I do not believe it is the government’s right to know what I own.”
You don’t believe that? Well, I don’t believe I should damn well have to follow speed limits ‘cause I’m a safe driver and know how to drive for the conditions, but the laws says 65. If I break that law, no one gives a rat’s behind what I believe and I’m gonna get a damn ticket. There are a great many things we Americans don’t like having to do or share with our government, but there are also plenty of things you get to keep private (not one person in government knows where I keep my coins or what I’ve got stockpiled in that sports bin in my garage). But this one, the registration laws being discussed for a weapon no one in their right mind really needs (just ask Republican Representative Peter King): you can register that. It’s not so much about your privacy, it’s more about the fact that registering it would help make it easier to locate or identify if some idiot steals it from your house, or a disturbed family member makes off with it during a night of rage.
Bottom line, laws are are not based on whether people “believe it is the government’s right to know.” They’re generally made for reasons of public health and safety. Since you claim to Senator Feinstein that you’re “the man who keeps you free,” act like that man, that soldier who probably had to comply with countless restrictions and regulations in the Marines that you could’ve done without, but followed in service to your commitment. If you’re that man, then you should also be the man who respects his country’s leaders and follows his country’s laws…not just the ones you like or “believe” in. It just doesn’t work that way.
3. “You ma’am have overstepped a line that is not your domain. I am a Marine Corps Veteran of 8 years.”
So tell me, joshdb50, did Senator Feinstein, who began her career as a public servant in 1961 and has continued, since then, to work tirelessly not only for her state of California, but for the country as a whole, including in her current position on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, did this respected woman with 50+ years of accomplishment and experience step outside her “domain” because…..well, just how did she do that? Because she’s not a Marine and so she doesn’t know guns? And you do, because of your eight years in the Marines? How does that make any sense? It doesn’t, but since you put it in those terms, let’s be clear: Senator Feinstein is well within her domain to introduce legislation, even legislation about guns. You, on the other hand, have overstepped a line of decorum and respect, particularly as extended to a United States Senator…and that’s mighty unlike a Marine, isn’t it?
4. “I will not have some woman who proclaims the evil of an inanimate object, yet carries one, tell me I may not have one.”
“Some woman”?? Really, joshdb50, you went there?? As a woman, I find the sexist dig offensive; the minute you lowered yourself to that weary trope you revealed yourself as a stereotype. And though I hate to do it, because I find stereotypes as offensive as “some woman,” here’s a guess about you: You’re the tough, macho Marine who’s definitely red state, maybe Tea Party red; you’re a guy’s guy who’s had issues with women in positions of authority throughout your life. Of course, you LOVE guns and truly believe the only way to be safe in this world is to have lots of them. You might not just be a sexist, you’re possibly a jingoist. You might also be a Jeffersonian, and – well, you know what, I’ll leave it there. If I got any of that wrong, sorry. But, odds are, since you felt it important enough to post your private letter to Senator Feinstein on the Internet, we’ll be hearing more from you in the future and we can fill in the blanks as we go.
And, by the way, Senator Feinstein carries an assault weapon? Really? Can I see some verification of that? And if you mean her security staff, my guess is their weapons are registered.
5. “I am not your subject. I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant.”
Wow. Lots in there to address. First of all, who the hell said you are anyone’s servant or peasant? Senator Feinstein didn’t. She’s responding to the outcries of millions of Americans who want to see something done about the proliferation of the exact weapon you’ve hugged to your chest like a blankie. She’s not making a statement about you. Stop being a gun-narcissist and knock off the drama.
As for “I am the person you serve”…maybe you meant that as, “you’re an elected official at the service of the constituents who voted you in,” but given the tone of the preceding lines, you come off less like a political activist and more like a power-mongering male dominant. I’d go with a slightly less arrogant tone in any subsequent letters to congress people.
6. “I am the flesh and blood of America. I am the man who fought for my country.”
Poetic, I admit, and I’m a sucker for poetic prose, but I can almost smell the macho sweat dripping off those statements. Look, thank you for your service, truly. Signing up for the Marines and serving for 8 years was a noble act; we Americans very much appreciate that choice and honor it, deeply. But that does not make you better than those of us who make our contributions every single day to our country in other ways. If you expect us to honor you because of your service, perhaps you could honor us as your fellow Americans and respect the concerns of the many who want to change the obscene level of gun violence in this country. When you come back from a deployment to stand up and holler about how a respected Senator is out of line, how you’re not going to follow the laws of the country – the same country you claim you’re keeping free – that’s a contradiction, joshdb50, and it dilutes your statement.
7. “I am the man who learned. I am an American.”
I’m glad you learned but I wonder what you learned. And how you see that as applicable to this issue. The hope would be that you learned how much you love your country, how important it is for people to work together to solve problems to make this country, this world, a safer place. How essential it is to sometimes look beyond your own wants and needs to consider the greater good; even, sometimes, at the expense of your own desires. It’s what makes us great, when we can see beyond ourselves. Did you learn that? It’s a maxim of the military so I hope you did, but you can’t say you’re an American in one breath and then say you won’t be following the laws of America in another. Again, a contradiction.
8. “We, the people, deserve better than you.”
While I sigh about the disrespect of that statement, I can also shake my head and say, “To each his own.” There are probably plenty of people in government who you admire that I find appalling. We’ll have to leave it at that “to each his own.”
Except to say this: as an American who loves this country, loves my family, and wants to see my family and the families of others be as safe, happy and healthy as we can all possibly be, I deserve better than you. We all deserve better than any American who puts their own hobbies, proclivities, habits, sports, penchants, passions, etc., ahead of the health, safety and welfare of their fellow citizens. When it was determined that smoking was deleterious to the health of those beyond the ones smoking, laws demanded change and smokers complied. Often very begrudgingly. But they had to curtail their “rights” in lieu of the rights of the greater community. It’s what Americans do. Gun lovers can do the same.
Because we all, every one of us, deserve to live in a country where logic, reason, empathy and communal concern determine our laws. I’m sorry that, you, joshdb50, and other purportedly responsible owners of military grade weapons, might have to do without, might have to register weapons you don’t want to. I’m sorry you, as a American citizen, might have to mitigate your freedoms to own and use those weapons without restriction because cultural change has led us to a time and place when 12,000 people a year are murdered by guns in the United States. I wish we lived in a time when no one shot anyone for any reason; instead we live in a time when a legally purchased Bushmaster can be taken by the disturbed son of the gun owner and used to slaughter 20 children and 6 adults in a small town school.
We also live in a time when ALL of us, Side 1 and Side 2, are morally obligated to work together to make this country a safer place. That doesn’t take being a Marine, that doesn’t take being a Senator, that only takes being a compassionate, ethical and unselfish American citizen.
Are you that, joshbd50? If not, we all deserve better than you.