Letters published November 26, 2017

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People, not guns, are the problem

I recently made friends with a couple from Great Britain who visited us. While they were here I showed them how to safely shoot revolvers and AR15 rifles since they were interested and do not have that opportunity at home.

Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, my new friends asked me about the open access to guns in the United States and how I “feel about automatic weapons being readily available.”

First of all automatic weapons are not readily available here in the USA. They have been strictly controlled since the late 1920s. They are available to civilians but must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be legal. To date, no registered thus legal automatic weapons have ever been used in a crime. With the exception of self-defense, killing people on the other hand has always been a crime punishable by law. The weapons used in the Las Vegas shooting were semi-automatic guns which were fitted with a mechanical device that makes them fire rapidly. Semi-automatic means that the firearm requires the trigger to be pulled for each shot. Full-automatic means one trigger pull fires the gun continuously until it is empty or the trigger is released. The bump stock is a mechanical device that actuates the trigger rapidly to simulate full-automatic fire. There are many other devices that do the same thing and I am sure that clever persons can figure out many more ways to do the same thing. Thus banning bump stocks will not be effective. And neither will banning firearms in general. Let us discuss the real issue. Banning objects to prevent their misuse simply does not accomplish the desired result.  Do we ban cars because some people use them to commit crimes? Do some people drive vehicles into crowds to see how many they can harm? Do some people set off bombs in crowded places to harm others? People were killing other people long before firearms were invented and will continue to do so long after firearms are replaced with a more effective weapon.

So the real issues are: Why do we need weapons in the first place? Why do some people desire to kill other people? How do we control those people who wish to kill? The answer to these questions is difficult to determine since we cannot reliably predict which people have these desires until AFTER they act. Should we go about arresting folks because they might commit a crime someday? Who gets to determine which people to arrest? Could the power to do so be used corruptly against people we simply do not like? Because the solution to the real problem is so difficult, our politicians and the media resort to misdirecting the issue and blame the crime of killing others on the object used instead of the persons who actually commit them. Does this really resolve the issue? I have owned firearms since I was a child and currently own more than the man who committed the Las Vegas shooting crime. Does that make me a criminal too? 

My British friends now know how to use a firearm. My question to them was, “Do you feel an uncontrollable desire to kill people now?” The answer, of course, is no.

As long as our leaders turn to “gun control” as a solution, these shootings will continue. Prohibition and our current “drug war” both show the futility of controlling THINGS as a way to prevent crime. People commit crimes; things do not.

I hope this sheds some light on an issue which is frequently deliberately misconstrued. —Gerry Hurst, Marion

Downing picked Montana — that’s good sign

The press is reporting that Senate candidate Troy Downing has been “not a Montanan for very long.”

Downing is a successful businessman from Southern California, born and raised in Indio, Calif. He is a family guy and outdoorsman, as well as an entrepreneur.

Consider: A child/person who is adopted is CHOSEN from many to become part of a family. That child/person is evaluated from practical/ emotional/sentimental reasons. That child/person is not “born” into that family.. He or she is chosen. The family didn’t have to pick them. They have many other choices...

Consider: An American/worldwide successful businessman with a military background, married with kids, has mingled with industry leaders and observed many ways of life. With that background, he would be able to live where he pleases.

He “adopts” Montana to be his home. He can live anywhere but “chooses/adopts” Montana... Will he ever be a “native Montanan”? No... Will the child ever be “native” to that mentioned family? NO, again... But still the child is part of the family, and is welcomed!

Troy Downing has a home and business in Southern California. It’s warm there in the winter... How often have most Montanans wished they had a warm place in the desert to “visit” for some time during a long, cold March? They still “come home” to Montana!

I wonder if Downing would adopt this writer? Could be a good deal for me!

I don’t know enough yet to vote for the man, but I would encourage ALL Montanans to take a look at Troy Downing for innovative ideas for our state. I do not personally know this man, although I retired from law enforcement just up the road from Indio in Palm Springs, California. —Benj Scout, Kalispell

A layman’s view of science

In response to Ed Berry’s Oct. 10 letter concerning global warming theory: Please know I’m not a scientist nor pretend to be. Dr. Berry is. They deal in a language I don’t understand. Things involving sophisticated statistical analysis to prove probabilities. Particulates and reactions, etc., all of which are above my skill level. Also know I highly respect the profession. Ups and down if you think about it, science had done so much good for us human beings. I do know a little bit about how the scientific community functions. Like the rest of us, they come in all stripes. A guess might be that Ed is a feisty one. Not a bad thing.

That said, they have a very harsh critical review system among peers, largely involving methodology used to substantiate proposed theory. It starts small scale in review for publication in scientific journal. If it passes and deemed important enough to publish, it reaches a much larger audience of peers. A lot of very smart people will see if they can poke holes in it.

This makes it very difficult for fake science or inadvertent errors to filter through. In large part government policy or political influence is not involved. A good thing.

In general most scientists know what their proven theory might do. Add a piece to a larger puzzle as part of a progression. Think the slow advancement in cancer research and how it has progressed.

To the point: There’s a huge amount of natural carbon going into our atmosphere. Five percent human-caused, as Dr. Berry stated, is also a lot, measured in many thousands of thousand of tons. Ed’s proposed theory, using cup and impounded lake as analogy (if I got it right), holds that even with human-caused carbon input the atmosphere still sheds out volume sufficient to hold a balance. I disagree. The bulk of scientific proven theory also disagrees, causing basis for. Again, politics and its big money influence aside.

I really do hope Ed’s theory passes muster among his peers, adding another valuable piece to the puzzle. It would add mitigating effect on predictions which long term have severe impact on our economy as well as us regular folks, not only in our country but worldwide. —James How, Kalispell

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