Mourning in America: Mass shootings continue to haunt our country

Mass shootings continue to haunt our country

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(EDITOR’S NOTE: The following letters on gun violence were received as long ago as March and have been waiting for a timely opportunity to run, which unfortunately was provided by the Annapolis, Maryland, shooting incident in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette on Thursday. Although all violent incidents are unique, the debate about solutions to gun violence continues after each such incident.)

An alternate solution to gun violence

Since Hollywood entertainers are so uppity over gun violence (many of whom are themselves surrounded by armed body guards), and since Hollywood is the source of so much gun violence on television and movies, (can we use the word hypocrisy here?) perhaps it is time for the federal government to step in and impose an “anti-gun violence tax” on the studios that produce the violent dramas. There is hard evidence that some people are affected by the violence they are exposed to on television, in the movies and in video games, messages that could lead to real violence by the viewer.

Simple solution. Every time a firearm is pointed at another person by an actor on screen, the studio gets taxed or fined $1,000. And every time that actor fires the weapon at himself or another human, add another $1,000 to the levy. Having seen some revolvers fired ten or twenty times without reloading (artistic license), the bill could add up pretty quickly. The same laws would also apply to video game creators and other venues where guns are used as props. Re-enactments of military or law-enforcement firepower would be exempt because that is what soldiers and police must do to protect our country.

This levy would not affect the studio’s First Amendment rights. The revenues collected, however, could be used to better educate the public on mental health issues and proactive education on dealing with violence.

Maybe if the entertainment industry was forced to clean up their act, misguided attitudes about firearms might return to normalcy and respect for human life would emerge from the uncivilized swamp Hollywood helped to create. —John Merlette, Bigfork

Boycotting semi-automatic weapon dealers

We are firearm owners, enjoy target shooting, and/or hunting for our meat supply each year. Any firearm is only an inanimate object, until it is picked up and operated by a human being. However, it is very clear that our society cannot guarantee just who operates that firearm, nor in which manner it will be used.

It is our opinion that military assault weapons are designed to throw a lot of bullets in a very short time against other human beings. As such, we oppose their sale and that of large capacity magazines, bump stocks, and the like to the general public.

Since our elected representatives have made it clear that they will do nothing to lessen the future certainty that mass shootings will continue in this country, we feel that it falls upon us, as consumers, to vote with our pocketbook. We applaud Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and Fred Meyer Corp. in their actions to stop selling assault weapons, accessories to such, and/or restrict ammunition sales.

As concerned citizens we are encouraging the sporting goods retailers throughout Montana to voluntarily remove such weapons, and accessories to same, from your sales merchandise. Return these weapons to their manufacturers.

We are also avid outdoor sports people who ski, camp, backpack, fish, and spend much of our disposable income on such gear. Henceforth, we will spend money only in those stores that do not have these types of firearms for sale. We encourage other consumers to do the same, but contact your sporting goods retailer first to let them know how you feel and why you will no longer spend your cash there. —John and Ginger Faust, Essex; Phil and Judy Ford, Bigfork; Larry Epstein, Essex; Bill Hutchison, Bigfork

Laws need to be enforced

Dear readers let me ask you AGAIN, if you really are concerned about saving innocent people from violent crimes, like guns,, how about also caring for 6000 aborted innocents every day? Let’s license women and educate them as to the good and evil their bodies are responsible for. Silly?

How about banning buses, cars, food, planes, politicians etc.? Get the picture?

Probably not, so let me explain that the improper use of any “tool” is the responsibility of the user, not the tool! Easy to shift blame for killings and not address the real cause.

We can all pick and choose our favorite “cause” but be realistic in the cause and effects. Kill with a gun die by firing squad! Speedy trial, for example: The school shooter should have tried, convicted and shot by Friday! Quick justice that matches the crime is the deterent you are all looking for but too scared to admit!

Educate and eradicate! What a great title for a bill Congress should be writing ASAP. Remember that society make laws for the good of the masses! If people choose to pick and choose for their cause perhaps they should find another country that already has the cause in effect they are looking for?

The USA is a great country but laws need to be enforced or changed, NOT ignored! —Ron Albrecht, Kalispell

Steps to solve the problem

Our Constitution begins with “We the people…” My questions then are: Are we a nation that is really concerned about mass shootings and gun violence? Do WE really want to solve it or do WE choose to kick the can down the road? We can solve the problem if we choose to!

If we decide it’s guns, we can restrict certain guns, types of ammunition and even magazine capacities and if necessary grandfather folks that already possess them (if we so choose). If a weapon is designed for use by the military, shouldn’t it be restricted to the military and not available to our citizens? We don’t allow folks to have machine guns, do we? I keep seeing the same response though: more guns will solve it and see proposals that if we equip more people with guns it will prevent or decrease the shootings. REALLY! Is that true? Do we have data that supports or justifies that idea?

If mental illness is behind the shootings, are all the perpetrators mentally ill? Do we have data to prove that theory or thinking? If so, we need to make a major effort to support the effort of mental-health awareness and treatment.

If we decide background checks are the solution, we can require all guns purchased, traded, etc., to have a background check.

On the Second Amendment issue, do any of the above points affect it? Doesn’t the Second Amendment simply state that a person has the right to bear arms! I haven’t seen anything in that amendment that says you are “entitled” to every type of gun that comes on the market. So the answer is no, none of the above items has touched the Second Amendment; that is a scare tactic by the gun industry.

I’m disappointed in the NRA. Everything I’m seeing and hearing from them convinces me that they are a marketing arm, sales representative and lobbying firm for the gun and ammunition industry. Is that a change in their mission? I really don’t know, but I always thought they promoted responsible gun safety and promoted that aggressively.

Can we change — YES, but I recommend we start, like the Parkland students, within our communities, and work our way aggressively up (local, state, etc.). WE the people CAN change things! America is a great nation because of our Constitution, especially when we stand and work together. No one likes change but in this case we really do need change, not only for our kids but for all of us! —Linda Edwards, Kalispell

Separating brave people from scared people

There are many times in a person’s life when they are confronted with fear. Physical danger, moral dilemmas, and emotional distress are just a few of the immediate causations of what is called fear. Bravery is often defined as the suppression of fear (it never is really conquered) and is rightfully acknowledged as a virtue to be developed and encouraged.

When faced with a situation involving peril, people can be divided into two groups, those who become brave and those who remain scared. The current debate over providing a safe environment for our school children is such a moment.

Scared people hope and rely on someone else to save and/or rescue him or her from their dilemma. People who become brave seek a solution to their situation themselves. In the ongoing dialogue about providing safety for our children, we see this tendency displayed. Scared people want to defy reality by providing an environment devoid of danger. Such instinct fails to recognize that evil in people is the real danger, not their tools. Such attitude and action is immoral, because it necessitates placing our collective security upon law enforcement alone.

This attitude declares that the lives and safety of law enforcement is worth less than our own since we are not prepared to defend ourselves but demand law enforcement do it for us. This writer rejects that position. Declaring that the training and arming of teachers is “lunacy” is not only immoral, but also insulting.

Other than parents, no one is more prepared, willing and devoted to defending our schoolchildren than their teachers. Should they not be allowed to utilize effective tools for that brave task? (Full disclosure: This Vietnam veteran spent 42 years as a public high-school teacher)

Since the discussion of children’s safety is on the table, isn’t it also time to discuss something that kills almost a million children every year? This nation engages in infanticide by abortion, yet we are consumed with the idea that reducing the inalienable right of self-defense will make children safer. —John Fuller, Kalispell

No one is doing anything to protect students

Well, here I am again writing another letter regarding the murder of students and teachers. Today, May 18, nine students and two teachers were shot to death by another student at Santa Fe High School in Texas. There is enough blame to go around and there is no effort to prevent another mass shooting.

There have been 22 shootings in schools so far in 2018. This begs the question, who is at fault for these horrific crimes? Let’s start with the citizens of the United States of America. They tolerate these atrocities and continue to elect and reelect the politicians that refuse to take action on the gun epidemic. Their complacent attitude is obvious. In a few weeks the killings will be forgotten and nothing will change.

Must our students take to the streets again to protest and demand a safe school environment? The blood of the students and teachers is on the hands of the NRA and the politicians they bribe to stop any gun reform or at the very least research the problem. Trump’s effort to stop the school shootings was to put Betsy De Vos in charge of a school safety commission last March. No one has heard from the commission since. There have been two meetings, no agenda, no time line and De Vos refuses to speak to the media.

Trump’s response to the school shootings is he will pray for the victims and in the latest slaughter he called it an “absolutely horrific attack” and told those affected that “we’re with you in this tragic hour and we will be with you forever.” Mr. Trump, the prayers and being with them forever is not working.

The killers are not from foreign countries or ISIS; they are home grown and have easy access to guns. Let’s take the millions of dollars Trump wants for a military parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and the millions of taxpayer dollars he spends flying to his private golf clubs, on most weekends, and invest in solving the guns in America problem.

Citizens of America, it is your problem and responsibility to protect our children and teachers by voting against the current politicians and wannabe politicians that support violence and no gun control. —Jerry Reckin, Kalispell

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