Forum, Feb. 6: Gun Rights, Dead Children; Marijuana Isn’t a Threat; Bad Plan for Small Farms

Published: 8/8/2016 11:06:05 AM
Modified: 2/6/2015 12:00:00 AM
Gun Rights and Dead Children

To the Editor:

With reference to William Tufts’ letter concerning the Second Amendment, I have a few questions (“Defend The Right to Bear Arms,” Jan. 27).

What does the phrase “well regulated militia mean” and how does it apply to the right to bear arms?

According to the journal Pediatrics, about 20 children and teenagers are shot daily in the United States. About 80 preschool children are killed each year, according to the FBI and CDC.

Is this a problem? If yes, do you have any suggestions for solving it?

Technology, for “smart guns” — guns that can be fired only by the owner — is available. Why does the NRA oppose legislation to make it mandatory?

David Bowen

New London

Shumlin Misses on Gun Issue

To the Editor:

I’m equal parts outraged and mystified by Governor Shumlin’s insulting dismissal of S.31, a bill to require criminal background checks on all gun sales in Vermont, calling it as much of a concern to Vermonters as the state dog or vegetable. Just last week, the Burlington Free Press highlighted the true stories of the drug dealers, abusers and felons who exploit Vermont’s easy-access, unlicensed gun market. The week before that, 14,000 Vermonters stated, via petition, that strengthening state gun laws is a priority.

It’s difficult to understand how these don’t constitute evidence of a problem and popular concern. But I ask Gov. Shumlin to consider something else: When guns are so closely tied to domestic violence, as they are in our state, the people most impacted, daily, aren’t going to be walking up to the governor — or anyone — detailing how guns are a big problem in their lives. That is how domestic abuse works, Governor. Secrecy, shame and silence are part of the cycle of abuse. Women and children are not only being injured or killed by guns in Vermont, but also intimidated by abusers who use guns to terrorize their victims.

The fact is, Governor, background checks save women’s lives. States with background check requirements for unlicensed gun sales see 46 percent fewer women killed by intimate partners. If you see that as no more significant than what breed should be Vermont’s state dog, maybe public service isn’t the place for you. Maybe, Governor, it’s not so much a matter of Vermonters not telling you that this is a priority for them — maybe it’s that you’re not listening.

Melissa Weinstein

Post Mills

Marijuana Isn’t a Threat

To the Editor:

Mr. Backus might be misguided in his Forum letter (“Marijuana Leads to Problems,” Jan. 27).

It is said that the white man killed perhaps as many as 30 million Native Americans. But mostly not with the gun, but with disease: scarlet fever, tuberculosis, yellow fever and on and on.

On the other hand they gave us tobacco. At an estimated 100,000 deaths a year due to tobacco, they just might be ahead.

Marijuana is not “a lot worse than any cigarette,” at least not according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The thought that keeping any drugs illegal has kept them out of the hands of American citizens, young and old, would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. You would not believe who is doing heroin.

Backus wrote, “Drugs are far worse than any alcohol problem we ever had.” No. At least 70 percent of all violent crime (some say as high as 90 percent) is committed by people using alcohol. Prohibition, anyone?

“Legalizing it will end up costing more in tax money.” Not according to Colorado. Marijuana revenues nationwide have jumped 70 percent from 2013 to 2014. From $1.5 billion (yes, billion) to $2.7 billion. The fastest growth rate of any business in the U.S.

Maybe it is about the money. The billions spent on interdiction, prosecution, apprehension and incarceration.

People who do serious drugs need treatment (if they want it) just as a person addicted to alcohol needs A.A. They need our compassion and love, not the back of our hand.

Legalize all drugs and deal with it.

Matt Cardillo


Unwelcome Senate Message

To the Editor:

Recently I received a telephone call from Senator Ayotte. She assured me that she was concerned about my plight and that she would see that my husband received the benefits to which he was entitled as a veteran. I couldn’t get a word in to tell her that I appreciated her concern, but that my husband is not a veteran and we are not lacking any benefits we should be getting. When her staff person came on the line I told him that there had been a mistake and that my husband was not a veteran. He wasn’t listening. He assured me that whatever law Congress passed, the president would disregard it because he doesn’t want to help veterans because he is a foreigner and a traitor. There was no point asking how Obama could be both a foreigner and a traitor. I said that I was an Obama Democrat and didn’t want to listen to that kind of talk.

They can’t help themselves. It doesn’t matter that no birther has ever provided a shred of evidence that Obama was born anywhere other than Hawaii. But must a Senator’s office make unsolicited phone calls to constituents in which the staff person calls the president a traitor?

Ruth L. Stephenson


We Call It Souper Bowl Sunday

To the Editor:

I was delighted to see in your front-page story on Jan. 30 that others would be joining in the food drive during the Super Bowl (“A Super Cause: Area Churches Hold Football Food Drive”). The North Pomfret Congregational United Church of Christ has been doing this for a number of years. Super Bowl Sunday is to us Souper Bowl Sunday, when you come to church with either a can of soup or a dollar for the food banks. We distribute to the food shelves in Woodstock, Sharon and the Upper Valley Haven. It’s a good way to remember those in need during a special “American” day.

Ann Sadowsky


A Bad Plan for Small Farms

To the Editor:

The Vermont bill to force small farmers to create new nutrient plans for Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources and Agency of Agriculture is not necessary.

Most small farms don’t drain into the Lake Champlain basin and should not be penalized for the problems there.

Small farms represent far less impact than home lawns, roads and paved areas like parking lots. Most small farms are actively helping, because they’re pasture-based, which soaks up nutrients, carbon and other pollutants.

Adding more paperwork to small farms creates a disproportionate burden. This further tilts the balance in favor of medium and large farms and against small farmers.

Making it so that state agencies have more control over small farms is a biosecurity threat because they travel from farm to farm and can spread disease that can and has killed our livestock. They should not be able to come on our farm. They are a threat to our animals’ health, to our livelihood and to the viability of small farms in Vermont.

The $1/acre proposal instead of a fertilizer tax is absurd. Those of us who don’t buy fertilizer should not be forced to subsidize the fertilizer purchases of those who do. Our family manages our small pastured-based farm through the planting of clovers and other legumes that naturally increase the fertility of our soils. We should not have to pay for those who choose to instead buy fertilizer. That is their business decision. Big farms buy more fertilizer, so implementing a statewide $1/acre tax on agricultural land would further bias the balance in the favor of big farmers, and favor crop farmers while harming pasture farmers. This is just a money-grubbing grab at farmer’s income to finance government.

Our small pasture-based farm benefits Vermont. We are not the problem. We should not have to do more paperwork, have one more plan and hire more consultants to comply with more government regulations. The proposed bill is wrongheaded and should be put down.

Walter Jeffries

Sugar Mountain Farm

West Topsham, Vt.

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