An Open Letter to Donald Trump–9/21/2020
- Phoenix Congress 2020 represents members of the American Union, who are willing to vote for both Republicans and Democrats in the 471 federal races who will meet our terms, including Donald Trump. This is part of a series of open letters explaining our demands.
September 21, 2020
Dear President Trump,
In 2017 there were almost 40,000 Americans killed by guns. This amount of deaths is an unacceptable reality, and something must change in 2020. Will you be the person who makes it happen?
While the number of gun deaths is staggering to anyone, the typical response from both Republicans and Democrats is rooted in fear. Republicans look at those numbers and immediately go on the defensive. “They’re coming after your guns!” “They don’t believe in the 2nd Amendment!” “Banning guns will only keep guns out of the hands of legal gun owners!” For their part, Democrats don’t fare much better in the conversation: “We need an immediate ban on assault weapons!” “Republicans care more about their guns than our children!” And on and on the rhetoric goes.
But do you know what is noticeably absent in these conversations, Mr. President? Realistic solutions, positions reviewed in good faith, and clear-headed analysis of the problem. In 2020, Americans can and should do better.
60% of the gun deaths in 2017 were from suicide — nearly 24,000 people. Theoretically, removing everyone’s access to guns will reduce this number dramatically. However, in a nation with over 400,000,000 guns, this proposal is not realistic. It is even less realistic in 2020, when 3D printing enables homemade guns. Gun bans are obsolete, but despite the futility of a ban, the truth remains: the number of gun deaths each year in America is absurd. The status quo is as ridiculous as a total gun ban.
What is the answer? Is there a way to address gun violence that can bring people together rather than polarize them? Is there a way to uphold the 2nd Amendment and reduce the lives lost? The Phoenix Congress believes there are solutions, and offers one as part of the Blueprint for a Better America legislative package.
The Blueprint for a Better America first and foremost protects the 2nd amendment. Under our legislation, no gun bans can be proposed until 2031 without a 2/3 majority in Congress. This is half of the cross-partisan compromise around guns and abortions; a 10 year hiatus on legislative restrictions.
The legislation then tackles gun violence in specific ways. First, the Blueprint for a Better America requires universal background checks for any firearms purchases, which is less of a compromise than it seems because universal background checks are supported by 90% of Americans and 83% of gun owners. You yourself, Mr. President, have said “we need meaningful background checks.” Your signature on our legislation will make that a reality.
Second, wealth inequality and despair are a driver of mass shootings; in his book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, Sebastian Junger observed:
The first time that the United States suffered a wave of rampage shootings was during the 1930s, when society had been severely stressed and fractured by the Great Depression. Profoundly disturbed, violent individuals might not have felt inhibited by the social bonds that restrained previous generations of potential killers.
The universal basic income (UBI) proposed by the Blueprint for a Better America gives every American the economic freedom to take care of themselves and their families. Studies show that when a family can provide basic needs on a consistent basis, the mental health outcomes of both parents and children are improved. This legislation will drastically reduce the number of suicides by gun violence each year.
Mr. President, poverty is the root cause of an incredible amount of America’s social problems. UBI is a policy that will address many of those social problems in one legislative action. Similarly, universal background checks for guns are a long-overdue common-sense law.
Common sense solutions are rare in mainstream politics, but we can deliver one in 2020 that will make great progress toward our common goal of reducing gun violence. In order to show their willingness to compromise and adopt these reach a solution, the Phoenix Congress invites every American to join the American Union in a fast for peace on October 15. The act of giving up food for 24 hours is a willing sacrifice; an intention and ability essential to any compromise. Our shared self-sacrifice can build a better America.
Mr. President, in 2020 you have the opportunity to be the man who addressed America’s gun violence problem. Will you seize the opportunity or maintain the status quo? Will you join our fast for peace October 15?
Other articles on Medium:
A call to action around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s triple evils: The Marginalized Must Unionize in 2020
A look at our duties as Americans and the legislation they inspire; The Blueprint for a Better America