Gun rights, safetyrequire a balance
As a grandfather and gun owner from age 14, I’ve been giving these mass shootings a lot of thought. Here are four actions that can be taken that balance gun rights with public safety.
1. Background checks for criminal or violent behavior, required before all gun sales, commercial or private. If these factors exist, no ownership of a gun, period.
2. A written psychological test, like those given for sensitive jobs in both the private and public sectors, to identify mental illness or emotional instability. If psychological problems exist, no ownership of a gun, period.
3. A set of codified standards to ensure secure storage of firearms, met before all gun sales. No security, no ownership of a gun, period.
4. Government already restricts certain weaponry. Fully automatic firearms are subject to the purchase of ATF stamps. It’s time to require ATF stamps for semiautomatic military caliber assault rifles and pistols. Revenue raised from these ATF stamps should be used to fund a government-gun buy-back program.
These measures are not going to be popular with gun owners — too bad. If they can prevent a future Newtown, Columbine or Aurora ... it’s a small price to pay.
DAVID SIMON, Boise
Guns not the problem
Guns are the least of our problems. There were over 10,800 alcohol-related traffic deaths in the USA in 2011. That equates to a tragedy like the recent school shooting happening every day for 412 days.
There is no call for a ban on alcohol. There were over 32,300 drug-related deaths in the USA in 2011. That equates to the same tragedy happening every day for 1,438 days.
What is the response to this problem?
We just had two states legalize pot and the president says he won’t address that problem with those governors. Even though they are in violation of federal law. So much for the war on drugs. If our government fixes the gun problem as well as they have fixed these problems, we all better run for cover.
BOB STANLEY, Nampa
More guns won’t help
As briefly as I can put it, how is it possible that turning our communities into video-game shooting galleries for amateur vigilantes on the stroll at our public and private schools, civic buildings and public markets any kind of solution to the mayhem of an “armed society?” See, “The Freedom of an Armed Society.”
Gun Fight at the O.K. Elementary School is well within my horrified imagination.
DAVID J. STECHER, Boise
Make school safetya congressional priority
Someone in the media suggested parents with 5- to 10-year-old children should take them for a walk in the halls of Congress ... tell the children this is the safest place in the United States since there was a gun shooting in 1998 ... but their schools and classrooms are not as safe. We should all carry signs saying the same.
Parents, teachers, law enforcement, local governments, citizens should and can create a social network nationwide.
In it we should, and can, demand our do-nothing Congress to make our schools as safe a sanctuary as they made their own place safe.
After the shooting in 1998, both parties worked together to create (in record time!) their own safe haven. This, along with the best health care, benefits and tax loopholes, their re-election are their top priorities.
Only a grassroots effort will get Congress out of their collective citizen-proof deaf bubble.
BARBARA LEINBERGER-BOLIN, Boise
Newtown tragedy reflectsmoral, spiritual decline
Once again, our country was hit with a horrific tragedy and everywhere we go we hear, “How could this happen?” “Where have we gone wrong?” “We thought we were so prepared.”
I think it’s more than ironic that since we removed God from schools and other public places, these types of atrocities have been rising uncontrollably. The moral and spiritual decline in this country is obvious, and until we get back to giving God the priority He deserves, I’m afraid these types of things will continue.
I recently heard on CBS Sunday Morning: “Church-going is pretty much one generation away from extinction.” Really? Does no one see the connection?
Everyone’s worried about going off a “fiscal cliff,” but the moral slippery slope we’re going down ends in nothing but a shallow abyss. Even our president was brought to tears. He would do well to address our country much the way President Lincoln did in his first inaugural address, when he so eloquently said: “Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty.” It’s time to wake up, America!
KATHY COOPS, Boise
We need new answers
We create our own culture, and we teach our children, and we immerse them in our ideas and values. When one of us commits a crime, perhaps a heinous one, we look for an individual motive, or individual illness or individual failing that separates us from the criminal. It becomes a story about a monster. But no one has ever become a person, or a monster on their own. Even when we agree that a person has taken an evil path, the evil itself will still be something uniquely representative of the culture that shaped it.
Do we have some joint responsibility for the shape that evil takes? Do we have any joint responsibility for glorifying violence, or for making profit on the sale of weapons that have only the purpose of killing dozens of people per minute? If there is some responsibility, how will it be expressed? I’d rather not believe that all the questions and answers were decided by the men of the 18th century who wrote our Constitution.
KEVIN GERAGHTY, Garden City
Mental treatmentsnot a simple matter
Since the horrible tragedy in Newtown, comments have been made about mental health. One person online at the Statesman said “time to lock up the mental defects, bring back asylums.” How quaint. Many with mental illness are locked away by themselves, a self-imposed exile.
Mental illness carries a stigma. Family and friends drop communication. Some must make decisions about buying medicine or food. The cheaper meds have horrible side effects. Some, in an effort for acceptance, are victimized monetarily and emotionally. Many suffer in silence. They’re unable to reach out. Most are nonviolent. Most wonder, why me? Many push people away because they feel unworthy of love and friendship. Some are talented in art, music and even mathematics. The stigma of society keeps their voices and art silent.
Many only ask for acceptance. Yet they are denied. Some feel it was only their mothers who loved them. Sometimes even that isn’t true. Some reach out for help and are greeted by police. We cannot, at this time of shock and mourning, lump all these people together. Some will live and die alone. Asylums are not the answer. Reaching out, even when pushed away is. And better understanding.
KEVIN W. MANESS, Boise
Reject the power grab
On Nov. 30, Idaho Power filed an astonishing proposal with the Idaho Public Utilities Commission that can only be described as a “power grab,” both literally and figuratively. The proposal opens a new front in Idaho Power’s ongoing war against clean energy. Remarkably, this time Idaho Power’s target isn’t wind power, but small residential homeowners who have installed solar power systems on their homes.
Literally, the proposal states that when an individual homeowner generates excess solar power during a year, Idaho Power would be entitled to confiscate that excess power from the homeowner at no cost whatsoever. Who would have imagined Idaho Power advocating for free electricity!
I urge the IPUC to reject this outrageous attack on small, residential owners of solar power systems.
JOHN RYAN, Boise
State needs revenue
Idaho’s House of Representatives is dominated by libertarians who call themselves Republicans. During the last session, the House Revenue and Taxation Committee refused to consider a modest increase in the cigarette tax.
This had nothing to do with the merits of the proposal. It had everything to do with ideology. The libertarians are against taxes.
Last year they cut the state income tax that primarily benefited the wealthy. If the next session of the Legislature eliminates the business property tax it will knock a big hole in the budget. It will be interesting to see if they do anything to replace some of this lost revenue.
DARRELL W. BROCK, Boise