Richard Matthews, pictured at right above, grew up in a devout Mormon family in Idaho. That's his late brother, Jonathan, on the left, and below, using the shooting range their grandfather built for them in the basement. The other day, going through old papers, Richard found a copy of a letter written by his young brother to the U.S. Congress asking them to protect hunting guns but ban the sale of military guns. The letter is dated December 22, 1993; the assault weapons ban passed nine months later.
Richard lives in North Dakota now, where he might be the bluest dot in the entire oil patch (more on that another day). He writes:
My brother, Jonathan, died at the age of 20 after a life long battle with kidney disease. He was a true product of the west. He loved guns more than anything. Even though he never weighed more than 80 pounds, he owned many guns and shotguns. He could not fire them without assistance. He continued to buy guns after he became too sick to fire them at all.
Jonathan believed strongly that there should be a ban on military assault weapons. He felt so strongly about it, that he wrote a letter to congress about it as a child, as well as to the NRA, an organization in which he held a lifetime membership. His letter is posted here. I got a great laugh out of it. It begins: "Dear Congress, I hope you're having a good time..." LOL, oh Jon, I assure you congress is having a VERY good time.
*Jonathan's mom, Kathryn Matthews, remembers him also writing to the NRA. She says that her family's concern has always been only with military weapons. She says her son learned marksmanship from his maternal grandfather, a national rifle champion, an avid deer hunter and a World War II veteran. Jonathan "dearly loved to go roadside hunting for sage hens and other small game with his dad who wisely let him shoot with a .22.," she writes. "Jonathan passed away at the age of 20, a very tiny but strong-willed little individual." You can see a draft of Jonathan's letter after the jump.
The handwritten draft reads:
I hope you are having a good time. There's one thing I don't agree with. I don't agree on letting military guns be legal for sitizens to buy. But I like hunting with hunting Rifels. I don't know if They should suppport the military weapons. I think they ought to ban military guns.
Because there is so much killing. Too much people are buying them to kill people. I think hunting gun are fun. Please protect them.
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*After I first posted this, Kathryn Matthews contacted me and said she wanted to make sure her family's views were clear. The post has been updated to reflect her followup.