It’s time to say
enough with guns
Editor of the Reformer:
It’s rare that something in the world around me affects me strongly enough that I’m moved to write about it, to get something said, with the intent of being heard, but here it is.
I’ve been wondering (for years now) how many massacres it would take before we as a people would declare an end to guns. Wondering, in the last several days, whether someone in power would finally say it. And wouldn’t the masses of thoughtful, kind, concerned people that populate this country say, "Yes, of course, it is time?"
How much more obvious does it need to get? There will always be angry people, hurt and damaged people crazed by fury or frustration, wanting revenge however and wherever they can get it. As long as there are guns they can get their hands on, they will use them, and innocent people will die.
Why is there not an uproar? Why aren’t we filling the streets, crying that there must be an end to it?
Looking around the news, I found something this morning that helped me understand the deafening silence. The politicians evidently live in fear of the NRA lobby. And enough Americans live in fear of being shot that they feel they must have guns themselves, to "protect" themselves.
Here is the level of insanity we have reached, and all I seem to be able to do in the face of it is hang my
This that happened in Aurora will keep happening. What makes anyone think it will stop? Will we stop having people maddened by life’s disappointments? Will they stop getting their hands on guns? As long as fear is running the show, as long as it’s allowed to triumph over sanity, the slaughter will continue.
Westminster West, July 23
A firearms owner discusses his rights
Editor of the Reformer:
I carry a sidearm, usually on my hip. I also wear a smaller, concealed backup firearm. I wear them them when I go to the bank or do farm chores. I wear them when I go grocery shopping or attend meetings. There is a shotgun in the back of my car and a rifle in my pickup. If you see me, then I’m not far from my tools and I’m not the only one. It is not hard to find plenty of Vermonters who refuse to put their safety completely in the hands of our sorely underfunded, widely dispersed, and over-stressed law enforcement institutions. Responsible firearms carriers are everywhere.
The firearm on my hip is not always concealed, and this is no accident. I don’t have to hide my firearms, nor should I be asked to. To the contrary, it is important to remind people that they have the right not to be victims, to remind them that they too have the right to defend themselves. It is also a statement of solidarity with my fellow firearm carriers. If money can be a form of free speech, then so can firearms. My firearm is a tool, but this tool also makes a statement. It says that I know my rights, that I will not be taken advantage of, that I can defend myself and that I am in a position to defend the lives of those around me. My firearm should put people at ease, knowing that just because an officer is 25 minutes away, help is not. Firearms owners are often discriminated against because of a few bad apples. Some would try to shame us into hiding our tools or try to prohibit them.
I train regularly with my firearms, as do all of the concealed firearm carriers I’ve ever met. I am, according to the U.S. Air Force, qualified as an expert rifle marksman and there is a ribbon on my uniform to prove it. I am at the range training every opportunity I get. Is it because I’m some kind of gun nut? Not even close. It is because I recognize that the right to carry comes with a responsibility to do so in a safe, dependable manner. I train to save lives, whether it’s with a fire extinguisher, a med kit, or a sidearm. I take responsibility for my actions and am accountable as such. Public safety is a matter that goes well beyond certified law enforcement and rests on the shoulders of our citizens.
As the nation waxes introspective as to the role of firearms in our culture, it is important to believe that we can remove assault weapons from the hands of violent criminals without infringing on the rights of law abiding armed citizens. When we limit what law abiding citizens can do, we give the power to criminals. We have the unique right to bear arms. Not to brandish arms, not to flaunt them, but to bear them, and I do so proudly.
Townshend, July 24
Editor of the Reformer:
Vermont is among the highest-ranked states in the country for air quality, something Vermonters are proud of. The operation of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon has played a major role in this accomplishment, displacing more than 69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering our air since it came online in 1972.
After Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont last year, Governor Shumlin was quoted as saying that we need to get off fossil fuels as soon as we know how (Democracy Now, Aug. 29, 2011). Vermont’s Legislature continues to ignore the clean energy produced by Yankee and refuses to include it into Vermont’s energy future. These politically-driven efforts will slow our withdrawal from fossil fuels even more.
It was recently reported that the amount of U.S. electricity generated from coal plants is forecast to drop this year, and fall even further by the end of this decade ("Coal use falling fast; utilities switching to gas"). The gap from lowering our usage of coal will be filled by natural gas, but natural gas is a fossil fuel and will not solve climate change.
As the country phases out coal we will need more affordable, reliable electricity than ever. Nuclear is all of these things, plus clean. If Governor Shumlin’s rhetoric about global warming is sincere and Vermont’s clean air is a priority in the governing of our state, then our Legislature would recognize Vermont Yankee as a necessary contributor to the health of Vermont and the wellbeing of Vermonters.
Vernon, July 17