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'Gun Controllers, Stop Preaching to the Choir'

A local Iraqi war veteran sounds off on gun control.

Below is a letter to the editor written by Jamaica Plain resident and U.S. Marine Liam Madden:

Like many people I know, and public figures I've seen recently, the killings in Newtown's Elementary school have made me reconsider my position on gun control. As a hunter, a veteran, and a dyed-in-the wool radical, I write this to show fellow gun owners, and more importantly, fellow American's distrustful of an armed government with an unarmed populace, that the logic I espoused for most of my life is bankrupt. Until last week my stance on the 2nd amendment was essentially, "Our government can't be trusted with the monopoly on lethal power. As such, the right to resist tyranny embedded in our constitution justified the tragic deaths that would inevitably result from the proliferation of these incredibly deadly weapons."

I deployed to the Iraq War in 2004 as a U.S. Marine. I came to see my experience in Iraq as that of a pawn doing the work of liars, profiteers and chickenhawks. I say this to illustrate that my outlook on gun control is influenced both from the standpoint of a constitution-observing public servant, and as a person who came to question the integrity of our system of governance to the very core. In short, I was reverent of the 2nd Amendment's freedom-guarding intent. I still am.

But my reverence is irrelevant. The 2nd amendment stopped giving the insurrectionists among us a chance as soon as military technology advanced beyond the rifle. No modern Shay's rebellion is viable, militarily speaking, unless the 2nd amendment is read to protect an individual's right to bear surface to air missiles, personally owned Abrams tanks and state-sanctioned depleted uranium artillery. Who in their right mind would want to live in a place that gave access to these things to any person, no matter how law abiding or responsible? Even if you would prefer that much more dangerous world, it doesn't exist, thankfully, and because no group of armed citizens is on par with US military power, the "guns guard our freedom" argument is hollow and insane. The "guns guard our freedom" perspective is the bedrock of the anti-gun control movement, and until we speak to it with respect and honesty, we will not sway the disenchanted and angry among us who feel the pain of the mothers in Newtown, but fear, rightly or wrongly, the Orwellian implications of disarming. Frankly, arguments to anyone else is preaching to the choir.

As I reconsidered my logic and let go of my previous rationale, the only remaining argument in my mind was the old standby,"Guns don't kill people, people kill people." That is undeniable. But given the fact that the UK, France, Germany, Japan and Australia collectively have more people than the US and only .05% the gun deaths, it is now obvious to me that the complete story veiled behind the "guns don't kill people" half truth is: "Guns don't kill people, but when people have access to guns, they kill a lot more innocent people than they otherwise could."

Patriots and rebels alike, lovers of freedom, please take a new point of view with me. If your freedom feels vulnerable, I remind you that an ounce of prevention (read real community) is worth a pound of emergency room care, which is revolting. We should not dismiss the NRA's seed of truth that, in fact, people do kill people. I admit it speaks to the root of the problem, but we would be foolish to allow a treatable symptom like gun violence to run amok before we devote our attention to curing our disease: whether you see it as untreated mental illness, cultural glorification of violence, or as I see it, the worldview that we are separated individuals, alone in our struggles, and that our love is weaker than our fear.

Sarah Freeman December 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Is this being submittted eslewhere as an op-ed, letters to congress, etc.? In my opinion, it is very well-written and much more effective than hearing from "the usual" gun-conttrol voices.
Fran Harrington December 27, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Wow. That was very well written and made some great points. Thanks for posting this.
Rich P December 27, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Great points Sarah!
Rich P December 27, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Liam, Please submit to every influential person and media source you can. See if you can get a you tube video made. I bet there are all sorts of organizations that would be eager to underwrite the expenses of getting this out there. Thanks for writing it !!
Dave January 01, 2013 at 03:01 PM
If you think a militia can't be a threat to a "well armed" government, then why aren't we done in Afghanistan?? The horse is out of the barn on getting rid of guns. Even if you collected all the legal guns from us, billions of guns would remain in the hands of bad people and I would rather have a gun on hand to protect my family than wait for help which is always too late.

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