Editor’s note: This is part of TNR’s Letters to Legislators Series.
The following was sent today to Burlington’s state representatives in opposition to S.169.
Self-defense is reflexive, innate and derived from primal instinctive self-preservation actions. When testing rudimentary brain function, physicians use signs of purposeful withdrawal from pain or noxious stimuli as indicators of deep brain activity. In fact, many comatose patients still retain some instinctive self-preservation defenses.
With respect, representatives, you can not legislate away self-defense not self-preservation. Such legislation violates the laws of nature. There is no compromising, interpreting, modifying nor explaining away this immutable property of human and animal behavior common to the smallest single cell organism and the largest blue whale and African elephant.
Imposing a waiting period on self-defense in the form of delaying the purchase of self-defense weapons is contrary to natural law, against the public good, morally wrong, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, and in violation of Torah law, which allows for the protecting of one’s life, even if such action violates the otherwise inviolable laws of the Sabbath.
A Vermont family that suffered a suicide last year has requested waiting period legislation, contending it would have saved their son. They refuse to share his medical records and present no psychiatric nor forensic evidence to support their allegation. Hope, wishing and desire for favorable outcomes, alone, are not reasonable justification for invoking these certain and very serious, and at times life threatening, self-preservation violations.
We would all like to be able to reduce the number of suicides, and we feel for this grieving family. However, the few suicides which seem impulsive were, in almost all cases, considered and contemplated over time before the act, rendering purchase waiting periods moot. Yes, there is an instant when an action occurs wherein there was a moment immediately prior to the event and one immediately subsequent. That moment of “throwing of the switch,” however, does not carry the implications of “impulsive behavior.” Further, and of critical importance to the discussion, is that there is no scientific evidence that an arbitrary temporal delay obstructing the acquisition of a tool — whether a firearm or any other of a myriad of potential available alternatives — significantly reduces suicides. To make a positive difference, please address other avenues which may reasonably be expected to impact suicide reduction, particularly addressing suicide’s underlying causes, instead of the suicide’s choice of tools.
The certainty of lives lost is well documented as a result of interference with self-defense secondary to delaying firearm purchases at a person’s critical time of need. G-D forbid a domestic violence victim succumbs to her tormenter for want of the weapon she is denied by S.169. A reduction in “impulse” suicides as a result of mandatory firearm purchasing delays is theoretical, and by the few numbers involved, would be expected to be minimal, if present at all.
Finally, S.169 firearm purchase waiting periods affirmatively harm and jeopardize a significant number of innocent, law-abiding Vermonters whose self-defense needs are innate, reflexive and instinctive. S.169 can not be expected to accomplish suicide reduction and should not progress towards law.
Thank-you for your consideration,
Jeffrey Kaufman, M.D.