Forum, April 14: It’s vital now to make sure firearms are safely secured

Published: 4/13/2020 10:00:07 PM
Modified: 4/13/2020 10:00:03 PM
It’s vital now to make sure firearms are safely secured

Schools in the Upper Valley have been closed for almost a month, and our children and teens may be home for the foreseeable future. We are all coming to grips with this “new normal” while simultaneously assisting in our children’s education, navigating the risks of COVID-19 in our community and wondering what will come next.

In a reality, that feels a bit out of control. We can, however, control keeping our children safe in our homes. A study published in the Journal of Urban Health showed an estimated 4.6 million children in the U.S. live in a household with at least one gun that is loaded and unlocked. As responsible adults and parents, we must make sure guns are securely stored so that curious children and vulnerable teens cannot access them while home from school. For those of us who do not own guns, we need to ensure our community is aware of the precautions to take while kids are home, especially when it comes to securing guns. This is not a time to witness another completely preventable, unintentional shooting or suicide — we all need to take action now.

Parent to parent, I implore you to read about the “Be SMART” program published by Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America and Everytown for Gun Safety. SMART stands for: Secure all guns in homes and vehicles; Model responsible behavior; Ask about firearms in other homes your child visits; Recognize the role of guns in suicide; Tell your peers to “Be SMART.”

These simple steps help to prevent unintentional shootings. Let’s all do our part to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, including our children.



The writer serves as a volunteer for Moms Demand Action.

It’s always the right time to demand accountability

On March 19, Forum contributor Dick Mark took issue with the Valley News for publishing Editor Maggie Cassidy’s March 14 column, “D-H fails COVID-19 communication test.” Mark wrote that “this is not the time to pile on with criticism.”

Sure it is.

It’s my lifelong experience that discreet murmurs of concern, or earnest private remonstrances, go nowhere, or somewhere so slowly that those who first make them may no longer be around when action is finally begun.

I may be a bit irritated now and then by local columnists in the Valley News, but overall it’s heartening in the extreme to have a regional paper with the guts to demand accountability in a circulation area so small, relatively speaking, that its staff can expect to rub real elbows with those they challenge to do better.

Sometimes you need to not only break eggs but to stomp on ’em so folks just absolutely can’t fail to pay attention.



Banning reusable shopping bags is unnecessary

I’ve been carrying reusable bags in my trunk, unused, as COVID-19 has apparently made them unsanitary, unsafe or both. But are they? What’s the evidence for a health risk from my bags?

On its website, the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association states that shoppers and stores have asked that reusable bags be banned during the pandemic. Based on what science?

State Sen. Chris Bray, D-Bristol, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee, told the Addison Independent that such a ban is unnecessary. “I have spoken with the (Vermont) Department of Health, and they’re not recommending any changes with the use of reusable bags — at all. ... It’s right for people to be cautious, but we don’t need to be banning reusable bags.”

The Independent cites several studies, including one funded by the American Chemistry Council, “which has spent millions of dollars fighting single-use plastic bag bans.” Even those studies don’t suggest the need for a ban, recommending instead that raw meat and produce not be mixed in same bag, that reusable bags be washed regularly and that reusable grocery bags be used for that purpose and not for gym clothes or shoes or anything else.

Makes sense to me: Wash your hands, wash your bags, use them for what they’re intended and don’t go to the store or anywhere else if you’re sick. Leaving my shopping bag unused for several days between uses also diminishes the potential for the virus to spread.

Reusable bags aren’t sterile, but neither is anything else I touch while shopping. It’s peculiar that we would demand single-use bags for shopping yet find it acceptable to send our health care workers to provide direct patient care to COVID-19 patients while lacking proper personal protective equipment and reusing what equipment they have multiple times. We have our priorities confused.

I suspect the plastics lobby has more to do with this than any unsafe practice that might impact our health. Let’s not sacrifice hard-won advances to improve our environment to lobbying efforts that lead to unsound decisions.



Don’t bail out the Bigs again; get help to those who need it

In the past, we have tried bailouts by funding the Bigs — a top-down approach that never worked. They keep the money, they horde it, they buy back their stock and they give bonuses to their already overpaid executives, and other bad behavior.

This time, let’s try the opposite. Pump the money in from the bottom up. Send a weekly check to all American workers. Also, make it taxable. Those in high tax brackets will pay a goodly portion of it back. Those in low-tax or no-tax brackets will keep more or all of it.

If we give it to the poor and middle class, they will spend it. That’s their reality. We’ve got bills to pay. It’s hard to save. I know from personal experience.

Take $2 trillion and give it to 150 million workers. That’s $13,333 each. Divide that by 52 weeks and it’s $256 per week.

This will inject that money into the economy on a weekly basis, smoothing out the ripples. It will make sure that virtually all of the money does indeed end up in the economy and not hoarded. This will achieve our health — and our economic goals.

When we’re done with this crisis, leave this “Universal Basic Income” in place, but tweak it by stopping payment to those over a certain income level. In time, this can replace in part or in whole many programs like supplemental nutrition assistance, unemployment, workers compensation, Social Security (for everyone this time — don’t panic). The efficiencies gained this way will largely pay for the change to the basic income.

Issue this as a debit card drawn on the Treasury and keep the banking industry out of the whole structure. Banks and other financial industries should not benefit at all from the Universal Basic Income. We’ve bailed them out too many times, and they get too rich already off of the hundreds of billions of dollars in fees they charge. Time to cut these fat cats out of the loop to maximize the return on investment — the money getting to the people who really need it.


West Topsham

Listen to health experts, not to Donald Trump

President Donald Trump appears to want to allocate essential medical equipment as a political favor to supporters. He just can’t keep politics out of a health care. And two years ago, hiding behind the Navy’s skirts, the Trump administration tried to decommission the hospital ships Mercy and Comfort.

Until this pandemic, Trump didn’t hold news conferences. Now that it’s election time, his daily “briefings” have become two hours long about how great he is — not — and more and more news outlets are refusing to show his campaign-like coronavirus updates.

Part of my mental health is to listen to scientific experts rather than this bully. Please support the Democratic effort to have mail-in ballots this November and vote the bums — Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump — out of office. Let the silenced, real Republicans take back their party.


South Strafford

Haverhill Library is closed, but still here to help

The Haverhill Library Association in Haverhill Corner has served our community for 140 years. Never in all those years has our library been closed to business for more than a few days. But this year’s viral pandemic has closed all libraries, including ours, for much of March and the entirety of April, and possibly for longer.

Thankfully, in recent years, we have expanded our services to include online resources that can be accessed remotely — the EBSCO database, downloadable books, and HeritageQuest. These services remain accessible to patrons.

For questions, residents can contact us through Facebook, by email at, and by phone at 603-989-5578 (leave a message; we’ll get back to you). If you need internet access, you can access our Wi-Fi from the street in front of our library (the password is “guest”).

We know that this pandemic is testing us all and we want to do all we can to be of use and comfort to the community we serve while following health and safety regulations.

Best to all. Stay healthy.



The writer is president of the Haverhill Library Association.

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