Letter to a Student Gun Activist

Having received and responded to several letters from Portland-area students complaining about the MCRP's position on anti-Second Amendment indoctrination in the schools, it seemed useful to print one of those letters and the response.  As the sender remains a minor, I will redact the name and contact information.  


Dear Mr. Buchal,

First, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is ___________ and I am a senior at _______ High School in Portland, Oregon. I organized the _________ Student Walk Out on March 14, 2018. I was also a student organizer for the March for Our Live PDX and was in charge of the logistics and internal communication for the event. For the past few weeks, a few students have asked me to write you a letter expressing my concern with your point of view on the issue of gun control. I know that the student organizers have been writing you letters. Your previous responses to my fellow students are very political; you avoided answering anything directly and did not address any statements/questions asked of you. I sincerely hope you will read this letter slowly and carefully, and will put some effort into comprehending the entire letter and not just pick and choose the part you want to read.

Living in Vietnam for 10 years with guns highly regulated, I had never seen a mass shooting happened in my time in Vietnam. The only mass shootings that I know of are the one in history textbook like the My Lai Massacre, done by U.S. troops to unarmed citizens. School shootings are a unique crisis that occur in the United States, and I hope you are informed enough to agree with me that this is the reality. I cannot speak for you as we are two different individuals. However, I hope you would agree that it is time to do something about it. At the end of the day, even just one death is morally too many.

The first thing I would like to bring up on the table is the notion of “back in my day when I went to high school, students carried rifles in the hall to and from rifle club and no one thought a thing of it”. It is truly disturbing and immoral. Back in the day, people could bring blades up to 4 inches long, scissors, baseball bat, box cutter, and all sort of liquids aboard a plane and no one thought a thing of it. But thing has changed, hasn’t it?

Back in your day, black people would get lynched, beaten up, or killed for simply being black; even the KKK was trendy “back in your day.” But thing has changed, hasn’t it?

Just because it happened back in the day does NOT mean it should continue to happen. Sometimes things need to change for the better. I know it may be hard for you to accept that things may change in your life, but I hope that you are equipped with enough experience, knowledge, and morality to accept the truth.

The United States alone in mid 1970s had about 150 skyjacked planes. I know what I am about to tell you may be shocking but it is the truth. Nowadays, “skyjacking” is very rare; having 150 planes skyjacked is no longer the case. I hate to break it to you but thanks to our government regulation and stricter boarding process, it is almost impossible to hijack an airplane. That being said, I truly believe that having government regulation over sensible gun control is ONE BIG ANSWER FOR GUN VIOLENCE.

Another thing I would love to discuss with you is the notion of “I don’t see nearly any students asking for improved security in the schools, and better law enforcement”. This notion is ridiculous. It is so ridiculous that it actually makes me think there is an intern writing your email and not Mr. Buchal yourself. Yes, we do emphasize that we need sensible gun control and I still truly believe it is ONE BIG ANSWER FOR GUN VIOLENCE (and please be patient, I will tell you why in just a moment). And having sensible gun control means improved security not only in school but also in the United States. Better law enforcement can do only so much when a mass shooting happens. It takes just a few seconds for a bullet to kill a person, but how long does it take law enforcement to be present and take down a shooter? And please don’t bring up the “teachers with guns” argument. Would you ask a doctor to carry a gun to protect their patients? Would you ask a librarian to carry a gun to protect people in the library? I hope not. Because if it was a reality, we would see guns everywhere and God knows what would happen next. Not to mention, teachers are teachers. They are there to teach, not to kill. If you think hiring one or two ex-military teachers would solve the problem, then please answer my question. It takes just a few seconds for a bullet to kill a person, but how long does it take an ex-military teacher to be present and take down a shooter if the shooting does not happen in their classroom? I intentionally left out the financial cost part for this argument because I think you should be somewhat informed to know how costly it would be. (And if you actually don’t, don’t hesitate to email me back).

Thirdly, your notion of “the schools and the adults are behind this movement and help organize everything” is disappointing. Your emotion-based assumption simply does not give you the right to discredit the effort that the students put into this movement. The Portland student organizers put so much effort and their own money into this movement. It saddened me to know that a person who is supposed to be the educated adult would not check his facts before spilling words just to discredit everything we have done.

Lastly, I would like to address this statement: “your slogans and feelings about guns simply do not give you the right to take away the property of your fellow citizens who have done nothing wrong to you.” Once again, please fact check before making such statements; this is blatantly false. Our movement is not about taking away all guns. If you truly believe that we advocate for taking away all guns, you are absolutely oblivious and have some more reading to do. If you know what we stand for and are still trying to alter the truth to push your agenda further, then I will be truly disgusted. Pushing agendas to get support is, in my opinion, immoral. It reminds me of the propaganda that Hitler used “back in the day” to build the Third Reich, establish Aryan supremacy, and gain support against Jewish people. Here are some facts for you. Our movement asks to remove military weapons that are designed to kill people and high capacity magazines. We also specifically ask for a stricter process to acquire a gun (like criminal background check and mental examination) and stronger gun licensing program. At the end of the day, I do not think anyone would need 20 guns to protect their family. If you are mentally and physically capable to use a gun and are a responsible gun owner, these policies should not affect you at all.

I also heard that you were eager to come to a debate and express your opinion. I would gladly arrange one for you. Please let me know your availability and I would do my best to make this happen. I am looking for what to seeing what you have to say.

Student leader for the March for Our Lives PDX
Director of Activity and Public Relation for Sunset National School Walkout


Dear Mr. Nguyen,

Yours is certainly the most depressing, but also the most illuminating, letter I have received from a student organizer.  It is a fountain of misinformation that supports my thesis that the school system has presented an entirely one-sided view of this issue, which over the years has brainwashed an entire generation of students. 

Some of what you say seems very odd to me; of course my responses to the other students “very political,” as it is a political subject under discussion.  I attempted to address the issues they presented and answer the questions presented, as I do in this letter; if there are specific omissions, feel free to bring them to my attention.

You act as though there is something unique about the United States and gun violence.  In fact, the United States does not even make the top ten countries in the world as far as mass shooting[s] are concerned.  Schools in Europe have had three of the six worst K-12 school shootings, despite more stringent gun control.  Neither you nor any other student can explain how these facts are consistent with gun control being the “ONE BIG ANSWER FOR GUN VIOLENCE,” as you claim.  Putting a claim in capital letters doesn’t make it factual.

Worse, you seem to have a sort of sneering attitude toward history [that] is also a product of Leftist indoctrination about American history.  I went to high school in the 1970s.  There were no lynchings; the KKK was not trendy.  That was roughly fifty years earlier, and I rather doubt that “trendy” is the right word.  Then, as now, the best people resisted racism.  Today, there is widespread race-based violence against blacks by Hispanics, and higher crime rates against whites by blacks, but no one discusses this.  

It is truly remarkable that you bring up skyjacking, because the controls introduced had nothing to do with taking guns away from law abiding citizens.  They represented the sort of controls that would be necessary to achieve higher security in schools, and which you disparage:  good people with guns on site providing protection, and forbidding students entrance into the school with weapons. 

You also confirm that you have been inculcated with a visceral fear and distaste for guns by saying things like “we would see guns everywhere and God knows what would happen next” or that it is “disturbing and immoral” to think of students regularly coming to school with guns.  Studies of frontier violence, when everyone was armed, show no higher rate of disorder and violence than today.  One can even argue, as Robert Heinlein once said, that an armed society is a more polite society.  There is a considerable scholarly debate on this issue; a leading researcher wrote “More Guns, Less Crime,” and the government set the National Research Council against his work with results, if they were to be believed, that show above all else that the effect of gun control laws is not particularly significant, and may be counterproductive as far as murder rates are concerned. 

You complain that the good person with the gun might not get there fast enough.  Certainly that is true, but deterrence is the primary force here, a force you ignore entirely, just as the Left does in this context and many others, like capital punishment.  That is why most mass shootings occur in “gun free” zones.  The root of the whole school shooting problem remains Leftism and its defective conceptions of criminal justice and mental health systems that foster crime and the freeing of dangerous crazy people.  It is just fundamentally naïve for you to believe that taking guns away from law abiding citizens will have an appreciable impact on attacks on schools. 

Your non-issue-related attacks are frankly disappointing.  I do not “discredit the effort that the students put into this movement”.  I recognize it as important, significant, and highly dangerous.  It proves to me just how successful the Left’s takeover of the educational establishment has been. 

And I think you are morally confused.  If “pushing agendas to get support” is “immoral” and makes one a Hitler, look in the mirror.  You are pushing an agenda.  I am resisting it, and pushing a counter-agenda—the restoration of Constitutional government.  That doesn’t make you Hitler or me Hitler.  Both of us want a better future, but you are sadly ignorant of the best means of achieving it, and of the forces that are working to darken it.

You may personally believe that you seek “only to remove military weapons that are designed to kill people and high capacity magazines”.   But all weapons are designed to kill people.  A ten-round magazine can be changed out in less than a second; limiting high capacity magazines accomplishes little.   All these measures do is create a population even less experienced with the sort of practical firearms skills that are the foundation of a free republic, and less able to resist tyranny.  The movement that has raised you up has broader aims.  It seeks repeal of the Second Amendment and a citizenry that is left powerless to resist the government as it becomes more and more tyrannical

Older people can see the historical context here you are missing.  We know that government has become a sort of cancer that is gradually killing its host, with each new law metastasizing into more and more controls.  You have been raised to trust government representatives more than your fellow citizens; I have been raised to see that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I know that when your particular gun control proposal does not work, there will be calls for greater and greater controls.  And after all the guns are gone, knife control is next on the agenda.  As I told one of the other students, the murder rate in London now exceeds New York City after decades of gun control.   So now we hear the Mayor of London say:  “Let me be clear - there is no reason to carry a knife. To anyone who does - they will be caught, and they will feel the full force of the law.”

And as Leftist policies produce greater and greater poverty and disorder, Leftists will urge greater and greater controls, using your argument that “even just one death is morally too many”.  But how do you weigh the deaths of those shot by criminals, whose lives might have been saved by good people with guns they now can’t have?  Just the other day, a homeowner armed with an AR-15 you would outlaw stopped a home invasion that might have left him and his family dead; now the three burglars are dead.  I give the lives of the homeowner’s family greater weight than the lives of the burglars. 

The most depressing thing about your letter is that you say you lived for Vietnam for ten years. The Vietnamese regime has murdered more than a million of its own people, and you focus on the My Lai Massacre.  I wonder whether your parents left that totalitarian Communist regime for the freedom of America.  How tragic it would be if you were taking steps that will tend to create that very environment here.

There is room in my schedule to come out to Sunset or some other public forum to debate these issues; on most days when I do not have court appearances or a brief due, I can take time off.  Let me know if you develop any more concrete plans.



James L. Buchal

Chair, Multnomah County Republican Party

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  • Sonny Yellott
    commented 2018-04-09 20:06:18 -0700
    Poor Mr. Buchal, in addition to his professional obligations, he now gets to undertake the responsibilities rightfully belonging to;, first, this kids parents, which may be lacking due to heritage, secondly, the failure of the school system to teach the American way of life, and last to attempt to counter the corruptive influences of leftism. Very good, I hope the kid starts to think. Sonny Yellott