Monday, February 18, 2008

How the Other Side Thinks Feels

Speaking out in support of HB1354, the bill that would deny New Hampshire residents the right to self-defense while doing business in the State House or Legislative Office Building, New Hampshire State Representative Nickolas Levasseur had this to say:

The only problem I have with this bill is that it only bans handguns in the Legislative Office Building and the State House. I have personal issues with handguns in general, which compels me to [you know] be in favor of this bill.

Handguns are, after all, only designed to harm other human beings. They have no other use.

The source for these quotes is the video recording of Thursday's executive session of the House Legislative Administration Committee (Part 1). I transcribed the audio as best I could, given the low sound levels of the recording, and placed in brackets the part I couldn't make out clearly or recall from memory.

I'm bringing this up, because one of my readers sent Representaive Levasseur the following e-mail requesting that he clarify the meaning of the above statement.

Mr. Levasseur,

After hearing your comments in regards to HB 1354 I have to wonder if you were joking around or if you simply that ignorant of firearms.

Your quote is italicized below.

"The only problem I have with this bill is that it only bans handguns in the Legislative Office Building and the State House. I have personal issues with handguns in general, which compels me to, you know, be in favor of this bill.


Handguns are, after all, only designed to harm other human beings. They have no other use"

It’s alarming that an elected official is voting on an issue that he knows absolutely nothing about.

Please let me know if your comments were tongue in cheek or if that is how you feel about firearms.

If it is the latter I would be more than happy to educate you on firearms and their practical uses in hopes of keeping you from looking like a complete buffoon in front of your colleagues and the people you represent.

Derek [xxxxx]

Levasseur's response:

Mr. [xxxxx],

While the transcript is not completely accurate, it does communicate properly my stance on this issue. While I do see many legitimate uses for firearms in general, I can see none for handguns in particular. Hey are designed for one purpose and one purpose alone; the harm of another human being. Whether one wishes to harm malevolently or defensively, the intent is harm. I am very well informed on this issue and do not require any “education” (in whatever sense you mean).

On the subject of education, I believe that you would be well served by being tutored in several subjects. Perhaps a lesson on the purpose of civilized discourse or the purpose of representative democracy would be beneficial, or perhaps simply a course on manners. You see, it is a simple fact that people do not always agree. To the contrary, they more frequently do not. Even when around friends, as I was in the committee hearing, we might find ourselves in disagreement. This is not a problem or even a bad thing. However, when we cross the line from opinion to insult, from debate to harassment, then we lose what is best in ourselves and our system. If you wish to have an honest and open debate about the value of handguns versus their harm to society, I welcome it. However, if you wish to dishonor and degrade yourself by using insulting language and threatening tones, then I will not be part of it. While I do not agree with you on this particular issue, I have a responsibility to maintain the honor and dignity of the seat I hold, and I will not disgrace it by getting into a mud pitching battle.

I have to say that I find your comments to me to be at best dishonorable and at worst threatening. While I do not intend any further action, I am compelled to forward this and all other messages of this nature to the House Sergeant-at-Arms.

Representative Nickolas J. Levasseur
Hillsborough District 11- Manchester

Wow. Where to begin?

I guess I'll start by sharing the e-mail I sent to Mr. Levasseur addressing his earlier comments as well as his response to Derek's e-mail. It pretty much says it all.

Mr. Levasseur:

I am writing you to address an e-mail that you sent an acquaintance of mine, Derek [xxxxx], in response to an e-mail he sent you asking you to clarify something you said during last Thursday's executive session concerning House Bill 1345.

That e-mail exchange is as follows:

[e-mails from above cut & pasted here - ed.]

There's a video of that meeting posted on if you want to check it out for yourself. I don't think Mr. [xxxxx] or myself would want to be accused of misquoting anyone.

First, given your statement about handguns having "no other use" than to harm other human beings, and the emphasis with which you delivered that statement on Thursday afternoon, it goes without saying that you're more than slightly uninformed on this topic.

Small caliber handguns, both revolvers and semiautomatics (most commonly chambered in .22 Long Rifle), are used everyday in this country for recreational target shooting, or plinking.

Medium caliber handguns, both revolvers and semiautomatics (chambered in .38 special, 9mm, .45ACP) are widely used in competitive and exhibition shooting events across the country.

Large caliber handguns, again, both revolvers and semiautomatics, as well as single-shot models (chambered in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .480 Ruger, .454 Casull, .500 S&W), are used quite frequently for hunting big game (elk, bear, and moose) throughout North America, as well.

Also, handguns of many different makes and models are used every day by law-abiding Americans in self-defense situations where no shots are fired, and NO ONE is harmed, not the bad guy or the intended victim.

However, according to your earlier statement, handguns are simply not suitable for hunting, recreational, competition, or any other non-injurious purposes. Such an assertion is, of course, indisputably and demonstrably false. Yet, when Mr. [xxxxx] called into question your lack of knowledge on this subject, you dismisses the argument, telling him that's merely his "opinion".

Based on your comments on Thursday, whether or not you are woefully ignorant on the topic of lawful handgun use in modern American society is simply not subject to debate here.

Second, and this one's a classic, you seem to be implying that there's no moralistic difference between harm brought upon another through a malevolent act and harm brought upon another through a defensive action. Both are inherently bad, and equally deplorable in your eyes.

I'm sorry, Mr. Levasseur, but, if some disturbed, homicidal maniac opens fire in a shopping mall, movie theater, city park or government building where I'm conducting business with my wife and children, and directly threatens my family with malevolent harm, you can bet the farm I'll be doing everything I can to dispense an equal or greater amount of defensive harm in return until that threat is neutralized.

And, I would do so with a clean conscience, and without compromising my moral values one iota.

The way I see it, either way, someone's going to get "harmed".

How could any educated person with half a shred of human decency in his body, say that the preferable outcome would be one in which the harmed party consists of my wife and daughters, and not the homicidal maniac in question?

Why is it that people like you insist that those with no respect for the law or the well-being of others enjoy a monopoly on the dispensation of harm?

At Northern Illinois University (and in pretty much every "gun-free zone" shooting in our country's history), that monopoly was shared by a homicidal maniac and armed local law enforcement agents. That arrangement really worked out well, huh?

Lastly, I ask you, who's threatening whom here?

You then accuse Mr. [xxxxx] of harassing and threatening you (a claim I find to be ludicrous at best), and then you threaten to forward his rather innocuous correspondence to House officials, for no other reason, apparently, than to intimidate him and flex what authoritative muscle you think you possess.

Nothing he wrote even comes close to constituting even perceived threats or harassment. I've read his e-mail several times now, and the worst part I can see is where Mr. [xxxxx] suggests you get educated about firearms a little more before pontificating fruitlessly on the subject, lest you end up, and I quote, "looking like a complete buffoon".

I'll say this, if calling an elected representative of the people, or other government official, a "buffoon" were to fulfill the legal definition of "threatening", I'd have been locked up years ago.

My guess - please tell me I'm just being paranoid here - is that you were planning on offering additional testimony in support of HB1354, citing all these "threatening" and "harassing" e-mails you've received from us "gun nuts" as evidence of the need for this bill to become law.

At least, now, if you were to try to do something as ridiculous and disingenuous as that in the near future, we'd all know what definition of "threatening" you were using - the one that includes the phrases "hurt my feelings" and "exposed my intellectual and philosophical shortcomings".

Now, if you would care to point out to me those elements of Mr. [xxxxx]'s e-mail that you found to be harassing or threatening, I'd greatly appreciate it. I'm still trying to find them.

Oh, one more thing. I honestly don't care, at all, what "personal issues" you have with "handguns in general". That's your problem, not mine. If you need to hire a psychiatrist or two to help you come to terms with your fear of inanimate objects, then so be it.

But, since you seem intent on using your "personal issues" as a legislative tool for depriving me of my constitutional right to keep myself and my family safe, I will now be doing everything I can, within the bounds of the law, to see you removed from office as soon as possible for this blatant disregard for the rights and liberties of the people whom you are supposed to represent.

That, sir, is not a threat.

It's a promise.

Bruce [last name]

Of course, any response received will be posted here in its entirety.