An Open Letter to Mr. Cheney
                                       by James Higdon
                                   August 4, 2000

                                   Dear Mr. Cheney:

                                   Your selection of yourself as the Republican Vice Presidential
                                   candidate has raised some serious questions with me and
                                   many others. It's not that I question your view that you were
                                   the best qualified politician for the job -- I do not question
                                   that, for I know you are a skilled and effective Washington
                                   insider. If the call came for you to be President of the United
                                   States, I have no doubt that you would effectively forward
                                   your agenda. But, you see, that's what worries me.

                                   Your "agenda," as I understand it, should be reflected in your
                                   voting record as a legislator. I hold that record in front of me,
                                   and rather than question you about all of it, as the media has
                                   done in a kind of lump sum, I think it might be more
                                   instructive to ask you about a single aspect.

                                   Generally, when asked about that record, you've stated that
                                   those were budget cutting years of deficit spending and a
                                   struggling economy. You've said that if you had the legislation
                                   before you now, you might vote differently on some issues.
                                   However, not all of that legislation had to do with financial
                                   concerns. The most troubling of your votes, one that had
                                   noting to do with economic impact, you have never been
                                   questioned about.

                                   As you are obviously a sensible man, I know that this is a
                                   question you will be eager to answer. Since I can't convince
                                   anyone in the media to ask it, I publish it in an open letter to
                                   you in hope that you will either see it, or someone will carry it
                                   to you.

                                   Why did you cast a "no" vote on legislation to ban plastic
                                   hand guns?

                                   Without an answer to that question, I am left with an endless
                                   stream of questions. With all of those questions unanswered,
                                   I cannot possibly vote for the Republican ticket. I certainly
                                   hope that the vast majority of thinking Americans would feel
                                   as I do.

                                   I understand your support of the Second Amendment right to
                                   own firearms. But surely you know, as I know, that no
                                   constitutional right is absolute. Legislation can be passed to
                                   limit any constitutional guarantee so long as the people can
                                   show a substantial interest in the need for the legislation, there
                                   is clear nexus between the legislation and the issue it
                                   addresses, and if the legislation can be narrowly tailored to
                                   only address the need.  The simple and well known examples
                                   are the limiting of free speech to yell "fire" in a crowded
                                   building, or to talk about plane crashes at an airport.
                                   Religious freedom is limited in that drug rituals and animal or
                                   human sacrifices are banned.

                                   You see, plastic hand guns are not very effective weapons.
                                   They were designed with one purpose in mind.  Plastic hand
                                   guns were invented to be undetectable by metal detectors
                                   and x-ray machines most commonly found in airports and
                                   federal buildings. So you can see the problem that I'm having
                                   with your vote. Without an answer to the overriding question,
                                   as a sensible politician, I'm sure you can understand how
                                   other questions must necessarily follow.

                                   Do you feel that if plastic hand guns are illegal, only criminals
                                   will be able to smuggle guns into federal buildings and
                                   airplanes? Why would a non-criminal need to smuggle guns
                                   into these places? Would it be to stop potential terrorists? If
                                   so, do we really want cross fire on a commercial 747 at
                                   55,000 ft, or in a crowded federal building? If we want to
                                   allow any citizen clever enough to buy a plastic handgun to be
                                   able to carry them on airplanes and into federal buildings,
                                   why don't we just ban metal detectors? Then, at least we
                                   could carry more effective weapons into these places, having
                                   a much better chance of hitting what we were aiming at, and
                                   constitutional concerns would not apply.

                                   Do we need these guns for protecting ourselves from a
                                   government out of control? Do you perceive an imminent
                                   threat that our government will become dictatorial "jack
                                   booted thugs," and that we will need plastic guns to defend
                                   ourselves from tanks, personnel carriers, and Apache
                                   helicopters? Do you believe that each and every citizen
                                   should be able to match his firepower against the government,
                                   weapon for weapon? Is this possible?

                                   Mr. Cheney, I know you will understand my concerns, and
                                   you will be eager to provide a detailed explanation regarding
                                   your thinking on that one vote. You don't need to answer for
                                   your whole voting record, just this one issue. This is the vote
                                   that I think most questions your judgment. If you can provide
                                   a satisfactory answer to this one question, I'll vote for you.
                                   Hell..., I'll even work for you.

                                   Thank you, Mr. Cheney.

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