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Gun owners push back: a former marine's letter to Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein is proposing an assault weapons ban, but many Americans are ready to defend the Second Amendment at all costs. A former marine's open letter provides a window into the heated debate taking place.

By Staff writer / January 5, 2013



Atlanta

Talk of reviving an assault weapons ban and creating a national gun registry in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre is touching a deep nerve in America, epitomized this week by debate over a stern open letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) from a former marine.

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After Adam Lanza used a semiautomatic assault-style rifle to kill 20 students and six school staff Dec. 14, Senator Feinstein of California has said she will try to revive the 1994 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. She would also push for Americans to be required to register "grandfathered" weapons.

But the open letter from Joshua Boston, which has caused a raucous online debate after being posted on CNN's iReport website Dec. 27, is a reminder of the huge stakes involved. Namely, many of America's 80 million gun owners are liable to balk at having to register their weapons, raising the potential for confrontations with federal authorities.

Addressing Feinstein directly, Mr. Boston, who served tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, says he'll refuse to register his weapons and writes, "You ma'am have overstepped a line that is not your domain."

"I am not your subject," he continues. "I am the man who keeps you free. I am not your servant. I am the person whom you serve. I am not your peasant."

As Democrats, led by President Obama, have pushed to expand the purview of the federal government in recent years, a recoil has ensued – on display in the rise of the tea party, a massive run on guns, and an explosion in the number of concealed-weapons permits. At times, the recoil has taken on tones of warning and alarm. Many in this camp, especially in the wake of several mass shootings last year, fear that America is entering a postconstitutional era where basic precepts like the Second Amendment are curtailed by a central authority.

"If you take out the heat and the emotion of this [Connecticut] tragedy, the reaction is an interesting case study in public versus individual rights," says James Wright, a sociologist at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. "It puts the issue on a knife point in a way that a lot of other issues don't. It's hard to deny the public interest in gun crimes, but at the same time there's that old Second Amendment, and it's hard to deny what it seems to imply."

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