My name is Robert People and of course, you don’t know me. I was introduced to you in the same manner that much of the country was as you made your voice heard following the tragic events that took place at your school on February 14. To say that I’m sorry you had to endure that would not come close to the proper consolation.
I am 38 years old and have served in the Army for nearly 21 years. I also have two children, ages 13 and 10. My purpose of writing this letter is to say one thing:
Gun reform is sorely needed. Period. I am not asking the question anymore. We’ve tried to ask and engage in intelligent dialogue only to be bombarded with insults and dismissal by others simply because they are older than you, along with comparing you to “Tide Pod eaters” (yes, they lazily throw you all in that category as well). So as you did, it is time to make STATEMENTS. No one should EVER have to go through what you did, only to be followed by people who should know better, caring more about inanimate objects than the lives of those who have passed away. Nothing I own is worth more than a kid’s life. NOTHING.
You’ve likely received a multitude of reactions after speaking up in favor of gun reform. I hope most of what you’ve seen has been positive.
My reason for writing you this open letter is because I want to publicly state that I am extremely proud of you and commend you for speaking up for what you believe in. That is something most ADULTS don’t even do, let alone teens. So you’ve done something special that deserves to be celebrated. You are such an inspiration to me, and you are one of the reasons I am proud to have served as a soldier for all these years.
As far as the negative replies and dismissive behavior you’ve received from my fellow “adults” (that I sincerely apologize for and am quite embarrassed of), please do not be discouraged. Unfortunately, the sad state of our country has led to the emergence of a lot of people who are advocates of Freedom of Speech, but only as long as those exercising it agree with your stances. Otherwise, they become insulting and demeaning for no good reason. Of course I don’t have to tell you that. You’ve exercised your rights in a legal, moral and ethical manner. You would think people who claim to care so much about the Constitution as they claim would appreciate that.
I’m sure you’ve been insulted in just about every way possible, so I won’t continue to remind you. But I’ve spoken quite extensively about it on my social media. I cannot stand bullying in general, but from an adult to a teen, that is beyond shameful. I know you don’t need for me to defend you as you’ve done a fantastic job in speaking for yourself, but I still felt the need to show support to someone exercising her rights, as that is the reason I joined the Army 21 years ago. I fight for the rights of ALL citizens, not just the ones I agree with. I am truly sorry that they are not a better example for you. Ironic how many grownups will ridicule for “not being mature enough,” yet you are attacked as your peers would attack you by these same “adults.”
My reason for thanking you, aside from the fact that I completely agree with all you’ve said and that you’ve done a tremendous job in leading the charge, is also about my children.
Even though again, my kids are 13 and 10, you are absolutely a friend I would be honored for them to have, had they met someone like you here. As someone who personally did NOT have the best of role models growing up, I feel blessed to have two children and I take my job as their father very seriously. So I don’t care for just anyone to be around them or for them to follow as an example.
I always encourage our children to speak up about issues that matter to them, as long as they do so in the right manner. What you did is precisely what I would love to see them do should the need arise. I spoke to them during breakfast today and told them about you and what all you’ve done. They were impressed to say the least. I reiterated it to them to be sure to not be intimidated by those who feel they should not speak up.
As a soldier who is around weapons all the time, I can tell you from experience that NO citizen needs what we have. There are even special circumstances in which we use some of those weapons, so there is no excuse or justification for others to have them unless it involved a military operation of sorts. Many simply want the weapons to say they have them. I have talked to MANY fellow soldiers over the years and that is basically the mindset just about all of them shared. In THEIR OWN WORDS, they don’t need them.
I would like to encourage you to continue this fight for as long as you are able and this soldier salutes you. As many others in the country, I have your back. What you have been saying is absolutely right and I will go against ANYONE to back up what you have spoken about. I have no problems whatsoever in doing so. So keep doing what you do.
As for many of these “adults,” as someone nearing 40, let me assure you of this. They are not angry with you. They are angry with themselves. You have done more in two weeks than many of them have done over the course of their entire lives. They speak more from a position of jealousy than anything else. You exhibit the boldness, bravery, intelligence and independent thinking that many of them wish they did. And you aren’t backing down.
Never back down. You’re much further along in your early years than many of them are. Keep fighting. You have MANY of us behind you and we will not until this fight is over, however long that takes.
Take care and best of wishes,