Dear Ms. Gabbard (and staff):
Thank you for your service.
I would like to see you at the September 12 debate. News that you made the donor requirement was a nice birthday present for me! But I am concerned that you will be effectively silent because of your National Guard service during a critical time, when you need 2% in four recognized polls by August 28th to qualify. So I would like to make a few suggestions.
Biden is currently the front runner in the polls. He has been around a long time, and knows a lot of people. You can see that he is decent guy, and that a lot of people love him. If he is attacked, a lot of people will circle the wagons and defend him. It does not matter that he is gaffe prone and gets details wrong, we know he will have people around him to help get the details and tactics right. We don't expect our president to know everything and be able to do anything - but do expect WITH his/her staff to come pretty close. The question with him is - is he there enough that he can recognize a bad tactical plan or a bad person among his staff and reject them.
Our question about you is - how about you? Do you have a staff that can keep things going, keep attention on you, and react to events on your behalf when you are down for two weeks? Do you trust at least some of them enough to do so?
Over the last week we have had two big kind of events. The Epstein death is not worth commenting on - people already know everybody thinks its horrible and the current administration should deal with it. But the Gilroy/El Paso/Dayton shootings are instances of an ongoing problem for which no one has yet come up with a good plan, and an opportunity. It is something for which one would expect your staff to develop your position even if you were here.
So here is my suggestion. Put up a plan on the website, label it as developed by staff, and make sure it gets attention. Here is a draft you can work with or use verbatim:-
Tulsi's Position on Preventing Mass Killings - Prepared by Staff
Too many people die in the US from a form of violence that has a lot of shock value. A single man or a gang can kill or injure a lot of innocent people and make us feel really insecure going about our daily business.
In the military we are trained on how to use weapons - including bare hands, knives, guns and bombs. All can be used to kill or maim, and cause chaos. But some military officers are also trained in how to analyze the existing power structure in an area we are defending, the motivation of people there, and use that knowledge to prevent attacks (as well as defending against the ones that do happen).
A complete plan is impossible without a detailed analysis. But we do know a few things.
1) Some of the killers are obviously disturbed, and show signs well before the event. Often family members will report them, out of real concern for both themselves and for the potentially violent person.
Proposed red flag laws would make sure such tips are taken seriously, potentially barring the suspect from acquiring weapons, maybe confiscating weapons already in their possession, and maybe even confining them. Obviously, one has to be careful not to violate the civil rights of the suspect. There is a lot that has to be understood, so we need to encourage the states to experiment with various versions of these laws and the processes used to execute them.
Mandatory background checks are the mechanism proposed to prevent such suspects from being given access to weapons. The first problem is the quality of the information in the database; second, the time taken to get a response; and third, the potential for illegal sales.
A better way would be to allow liability for acts committed with a weapon to extend to the seller of the weapon, with a reduction if the seller can show they exercised due diligence to determine the suitability of the buyer. The passage of sufficient time and resale would cancel liability. For commercial sellers, this would effectively make the background check service mandatory; they would in fact pay for the service, and demand good quality from the service. Private sellers would use it too, unless they knew personally that the buyer was safe. Even if the database gives the buyer a pass, a seller would decline a sale if something was off.
2) The motivation for a lot of mass killings is often as simple as making a mark on society by causing chaos and an uproar, or to impress someone. Many do not care that they will likely die in the process, and may actually welcome that.
We could take away much of the motivation by making it illegal to publish the names of mass killers in any public forum, constraining the reporting to only the official reports, and wiping out any markers of their existence. But we do care about freedom of the press, and restraining the press (or politicians) would be an issue.
We should deal with this by making sure they dont have a reason to get to this point in the first place. The draft had the advantage of moving men in this stage of life to a place that taught them discipline, ethics, and purpose; it gave them a group identity when they most needed it; and a safe outlet for their energy and enthusiasm for a fight. Much of this can come from living in a whole family, but we have a lot of broken families. We should have alternatives.
One of the most important things here is to ensure that free speech is zealously protected - no matter how uncomfortable it makes others feel. When people feel they cannot get a hearing for their grievances using words they will resort to more attention getting methods. When they are afraid to speak, they will squelch the words, and eventually explode. Free speech, and the discomfort it causes, is how democracy enables revolution without bloodshed.
3) In the US, guns are used for a lot of the killings that do happen, simply because that is what they are designed for, and because they are so easily available. Reducing their availability could be a big part of reducing violence in our country. But banning guns runs into the second amendment.
The second amendment is a powerful factor in keeping us a free country. Its very presence in our Constitution is an awe inspiring feature of the United States. We dont want to dump it overboard in a rush to make ourselves feel more secure. We should stop pretending it is about the right to hunt, or to defend oneself - it is about the right to be able to resist an external invader, or a government that tramples on our liberty. It is the last bulwark against the passage and enforcement of unjust laws, ensuring the people will have some means to revolt.
We can look to the second amendment itself for necessary safeguards. The founders struggled with the danger of allowing regular people to "keep and bear arms", and decided to add the clause about "well regulated militia". I think we can take it from there to make a sane set of laws repecting the second amendment, as well as providing security.
Obviously, you cannot "keep and bear arms" without having them in your possession. Also, arms are not just guns! So the implementing law should say something like "Mere possession of any non-living thing or substance shall not be illegal in any jurisdiction of the United States, nor shall any person be convicted of any crime when mere possession is the preponderance of the evidence."
Such a clause would enhance liberty in many ways. A kid building a battery using small amounts of high energy material(!) in a school lab is not a criminal. A weapon found on you or your property does not get you arrested - or worse. A dope bag planted in your car by an overzealous cop cannot result in your conviction. Ownership, not possession, can be regulated. If it can be shown that the dope bag belongs to you (because you bought it from the cop, or you claim it!) you can still be convicted. Tying liability to ownership and acts is easy - we do that regularly with cars and tickets.
Carry is another part of "bear arms". We have to ensure that it is legal to transport arms through public spaces. We don't want the scary look of open carry, and we want to enable quick response by law enforcement if the person carrying it decides to use those arms. We should have something like:- "It shall be legal to transport arms through any public space, provided that such arms are disabled and effectively concealed during transport." Unauthorized display of arms in a public place can be met with lethal force by law enforcement personnel.
Third, we recognize a class of arms (based on kill rate) that individuals can own without restriction, such as short knives, single shot rifles, and handguns. This can be location specific and should include any items deployed by the most local law enforcement agency. This extends to private spaces - a bar owner can make a rule that says "no knives or guns", if his bouncers carry no knives or guns.
Fourth, we explicitly recognize the right to form a militia. "Any group of more than 10 people can combine to form a militia with a set of bylaws regulating the use of arms by its members. The kind of arms that can be owned by such a militia may be regulated, based on its bylaws, and the size of the militia." A large enough private security force is a militia, the number 10 is just an example. A "militia" consisting of one or two people is undesirable - the social support of a militia's fellow members and the constraints of its bylaws help prevent an individual from going off the deep end. If he does anyway, there is a social group that can recognize when it is about to happen, excommunicate him, and deprive him of access to weapons; or the conscience of another member makes them take other action to prevent damage. Such militia could be the alternative to the draft. Maybe we could even coopt gangs!