Email #65, Subject: “egregious rule”?

My mother has Alzheimer’s. I would like you to visit her with me. I’m not entirely sure she knows who I am all the time, so there’s no chance she’ll know who you are. That makes her one of a shrinking group of Virginians who don’t have any difficult questions to ask you. She has good retirement and insurance plans, so your intention to reduce Medicaid and Social Security won’t hurt as much as it will her neighbors. She’s been living in an assisted living facility since a friend discovered her unconscious in her former apartment. She was severely dehydrated because she kept forgetting to eat meals. I took on power of attorney for her because she no longer had the ability to manage her finances either.

I think if you met her you would immediately understand the absurdity of her being allowed to own a gun. Yet you bragged last week that you had protected America’s second amendment rights by permitting exactly that. You wrote:

“In the final days of the Obama Administration, the Social Security Administration issued a rule requiring bureaucrats to forward the names of beneficiaries who have been deemed unable to manage their own affairs to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which would prohibit them from purchasing a firearm. The rule covers people receiving Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits and who need a representative payee to manage their affairs.”

You overturned this rule.  You even called the rule “egregious.” You also contradicted yourself. You complained that the “people affected by this rule are not given the option to appeal,” and then a few sentences later you said they “face a cumbersome appeals process.” Which is it? More importantly, how can people who are unable “to manage their affairs” manage the responsibilities of gun ownership?

My mother can’t operate a telephone, but you would have her operate a firearm. I presume you voted to strike this rule because the NRA instructed you to. Otherwise your behavior makes no sense. You are prioritizing your allegiance to the NRA because it maintains your political position, and you are willing to sacrifice a common sense regulation in the process. This “egregious” rule should have wide bipartsisan support, something you have claimed to value. But you value the absolutist dogma of the NRA more. There is common ground between conservatives and liberals on the issue of gun rights, but instead of seeking it, you have pointlessly widened that artificial gulf. This is not leadership. This is not responsible decision making.

Look my mother in her fading eyes, and tell me you are proud of what you’ve done in her name.

Chris Gavaler


Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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