Valentine’s Day Letter to Senator Marco Rubio

Dear Senator Marco Rubio,

I am writing you, as a fellow resident of the gloomy, doomy state of Florida, about a very serious issue that is plaguing our local and national communities, our collective mental and physical security and our trust in basic human civility. I am talking about gun violence. I am talking about the death of bodies, the death of spirits and the death of reason.

We Americans love our guns: how they look, how they sound, how they shoot, how they make us feel — protected, invincible and even sexy. As instruments of sports, hunting, entertainment and collecting, guns are so glamorously connected to American life — from playing cops and robbers as children, to action movies with bassy bullet sounds, to flea markets and gun shows.

Many Americans know and love the 2nd Amendment over the 6th Commandment. We live in a country where having a gun is not only a privilege but a constitutional right designed for white men long before slavery was abolished, women could vote and 700 rounds-per-minute guns were developed. We live in a country where having a gun — a tool for death — is a right, and healthcare — a vehicle for life — is a privilege.

We are at a critical crossroads, my dear Senator, between the sounds of bullets and heartbeats, where this out-of-date Amendment meets the fear of others, meets video games, meets gun access, meets mental illness, meets police brutality, meets the National Rifle Association.

While we may, with sly minds and disconnected hearts, think that “guns don’t kill, people do”, we must honestly recognize the contrary. We must accept the physics of death when a 50-caliber bullet traveling at 1,700 miles per hour (more than double the speed of sound) rips through human flesh and vital organs, converting matter from one state to another, leading most directly to loss of life. While people on the other side of the trigger and those with detached policies are culpable actors in this unfortunate chain of events, gun control and sensible bans are strong options for saving lives. Many gun lovers are seduced and enabled by the ease and long distance effectiveness of these death machines. Saying guns don’t kill goes against the very nature for which they were created. Guns and bullets kill! People pull triggers! Policymakers and gun lobbyists write excuses!

In Florida, we love our guns like kids love candy at the county fair. We insist on protecting the right to use them, especially on people. This protection is evidenced by the Florida Stand Your Ground Law which was passed with your strong support as state legislator. This law left us with increased gun-related deaths — as reported by NBC News — palatable fear in the African American community and a jury that acquitted George Zimmerman in the senseless murder of Trayvon Martin. His death, still today, speaks loudly to the intersection of race, policing, lack of gun control and judicial abandonment.

Florida has become ground zero for some of the most vicious examples of gun violence from the Trayvon Martin killing in 2012 to the Orlando club massacre in 2016 and the 17 high school students shot down in Parkland last year on Valentine’s Day. It looks like sparking national rage and activism is fast becoming Florida’s biggest export.

Times are changing, the heart beats are changing, as seen with the pushback around the police brutality, Confederate iconography, workplace sexual harassment and gun violence. I hope that you, Senator Marco Rubio, embrace the coming change and hear both the local cries and national calls for stronger gun control that puts life over guns, students’ voices over NRA money, the sixth Commandment over the second Amendment and, most importantly, the sounds of heartbeats over the sonic booms of bullets.

I hope that you will move beyond the politics that have shaped your blood stained, pro-gun advocacy and move into the heartbeat of peace, love and humanity that predicate the safety and well being of our whole country. Also I hope that on every Valentine’s Day, you will remember the lives lost in Parkland and hearts broken all over America because of gun violence.

Most Sincerely,

A Registered Florida Voter

P.S. I have attached an adapted motion graphics animation version of this letter with a special voice from the beyond.

John Sims, a Detroit native, is multimedia artist , writer and activist, creating projects spanning the areas installation, text, music, film, and performance.

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