Is this who you are?

Letter by Karen Smith to Idaho’s congressional delegation and conservatives on the issue of guns, gun violence and the deafening silence by our elected leaders in the face of “divisive extremist rhetoric”…  Thanks for allowing me to publish your letter. (04/17/2018)

This is the letter I presented at the offices of my members of Congress this past week. I issue the same challenge to all of my friends who vote conservative. Is this who you are? I also discussed the recent video of the dude who was shooting up a cutout of a teenager with his AR15. Is this who you are? I would like to hear from you:

Thank you and congratulations on your role in the recent passage of Omnibus Bill FY18 which clears the obstruction to funding research by the CDC, especially with regard to gun violence. As pointed out by the ER doctor who treated victims in the recent shooting at Youtube headquarters in California, while such events are relatively rare and get national attention, there are daily shooting events which do not make the news as a result of gun crime, suicide, and accidents that emergency rooms throughout the country must address. They are tragic and expensive. It is more timely than ever that our country embarks on a rational discussion of the subject with reliable scientific data from which to draw conclusions and formulate reasonable solutions. I ask that you make an effort to save lives by supporting actual funding for CDC studies on gun violence.

My request today is that you please make a statement on the divisive extremist rhetoric perpetuated by the media, the gun lobby, and the politicians who remain silent because they benefit from it in the short run. The damage it is causing to our nation will ultimately destroy us if some of our leaders do not examine their conscience and step up to say “Enough” to extremism.

Exhibit A is a letter that was sent to my home address by state representative Christy Zito from Hammett via the 2nd Amendment Alliance, in which she was drumming up support for a Stand Your Ground law which recently passed. It represents everything that has gone wrong with civil discussion. Peppered with phrases like “gun-grabbers across our state are going hysterical” and “weak-kneed anti-gun members are now scheming behind closed doors to ensure you and I get NOTHING” is not only inaccurate, it is unnecessarily dramatic fear-mongering that panders to the worst in all of us. It seeks to divide, not encourage reasonable conversation. In the Idaho she paints, there are only two kinds of people: “gun grabbers,” which she mentions no less than 7 times, and “law abiding gun owners,” which she mentions 6 times. In the real world, most of us are somewhere on a continuum between these two extremes, and yet we feel completely unrepresented by our elected officials. Many of us are gun owners who would prefer that our militia is regulated to some degree, as it already is. Will you speak out against this insanely damaging rhetoric?

This is obviously not just the rhetoric we hear from our politicians in Idaho, but across the nation. I have yet to hear any member of the GOP speak out against the offensive videos produced by NRAtv which promote outright civil war against “vile” people like me who are just requesting civil discussion on the subject and consideration of solutions to the gun tragedies that plague our country. Instead, they join in the finger-pointing and victim shaming. They portray an enemy that does not exist. What conservative leader will step up and say “This is not who we are.”

Just last week, Ted Nugent fed the flames in his own incomparable way:

“Don’t ask why. Just know that evil, dishonesty, and scam artists have always been around and that right now they’re liberal, they’re Democrat, they’re RINOs, they’re Hollywood, they’re fake news, they’re media, they’re academia, and they’re half of our government, at least,” Nugent said according to conservative media watchdog Media Matters.

Nugent continued: “So come to that realization. There are rabid coyotes running around. You don’t wait till you see one to go get your gun. Keep your gun handy, and every time you see one, you shoot one.” (Newsweek)

I have yet to hear any of my conservative leaders speak out on what plainly is a threat to my life. This is not the behavior I was taught to accept when my own conservative parents marched me off to church every Sunday in my young life. This is reprehensible. Is this what you were taught? I sincerely hope not. Will you please be the one to make a statement condemning this horrific and pervasive rhetoric? — Karen Smith

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