Instead of finishing the story I wanted to complete and ship off this week, I spent the last two hours writing a letter to Senator Patrick Leahy about Batman and gun violence. If you’re wondering why I chose this senator and why, on earth, did I bring Batman into this, I highly recommend you read about Batman: Death of Innocents, which was used to help pass a ban on the export of anti-personnel mines in 1992.
Without further delay, here’s the letter.
Dear Senator Patrick Leahy,
I am not a resident of Vermont, but I have come to learn of your achievements and incredible service to civil liberties and humanitarian causes through a mutual friend we have in common. I won’t lie. This mutual friend is fictional and has pointy ears.
For a few months now, I have wanted to thank you for the beautiful foreword you wrote at the beginning of Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman. It was absolutely inspiring and touching, and I must admit that it brought a tear to my eye. To see how the power of a childhood hero has helped guide someone into doing good works for the benefit of all is very personal to me, as I too feel the call to help manifest this altruism in the world.
One particular issue you touched upon in your foreword, however, was your involvement with Batman: Death of Innocents. It was a wonderful method of bridging the gap between the ideals we dream about in comics and affecting real-world change. Having this special issue placed on every senator’s desk ahead of a vote on your ban on the export of anti-personnel landmines was an amazing tactic, and I am thankful that you were able to create policy using one of our most iconic heroes.
There is a request I would like to ask of you, one that once again asks you to don your own cape and cowl to bring about real-world change.
I was in middle school when the Columbine shooting happened. At the time, this tragedy seemed like a horrific freak occurrence that we, as a nation, would stamp out and prevent from ever happening again. Much to our misfortune, this ultimately didn’t come to pass, and mass shootings have become increasingly commonplace in recent years. It breaks my heart to say that I know people personally who have been permanently affected by these tragedies.
Whenever legislation gets introduced to help curb the rising tide of these mortifying episodes of gun violence, these bills get squashed, shut down, and locked away. Our collective trauma, as a nation, grows as more mass shootings take place, and we are left weeping for the ones we lost, week-to-week, day-to-day.
Senator Leahy, I consider myself an optimist on any normal day, but these are not normal days. I must confess that my optimism wanes each time a bill gets reintroduced, and I feel that there are insurmountable forces at work that prevent hardworking senators, like yourself, from getting the work done that needs to get done.
As a lifelong Batman fan, you know as well as I do that the Caped Crusader’s war on crime hits closest to home when it comes to gun violence. We all know the stories of how gun violence took his family away, and we have seen panel after panel of Batman disassembling and destroying these weapons of destruction. His war on gun violence means removing weapons of war from the streets at all costs.
With Batman’s war intersecting with our own war against gun violence, is there a way we can bring one of our most celebrated national heroes to the forefront of this debate? With your connections and past work with the creative people at DC Comics, can we somehow use Batman as a figurehead for championing the battle against gun violence?
I ask you as an admirer, as a fellow lifelong comic fan, and as a concerned and mortified citizen, how can we manifest the ideals we dream about in comic books page into real-world policy changes?
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
P.S. In your foreword to Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman, you wrote, “Children may not always listen to other grown-ups, but they will always listen to Batman.”
There are many members of Congress who often relate President Trump’s comments and Twitter outbursts to that of a child’s. Of all the reasons to summon The Dark Knight into this debate, perhaps this is the most important.