Forum, April 3: Gun Violence Demands Action

Monday, April 02, 2018
Gun Violence Demands Action

We need a response to our gun problem similar to the response to the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

It has been almost 17 years since the attack on 9/11. Since then, we haven’t been talking about commercial airplanes exploding in the air or flying into buildings and killing thousands of people. Instead we hear benign news stories about someone getting dragged off an overbooked flight or debates about whether support animals belong on planes. This is because of the strong response following 9/11. Today we all complain about having to dump our water bottles, standing in long security lines, or walking through body scanners. Some say their rights are being infringed every time they go through airport security. But what if our lawmakers had said that we’re just going to train more people to operate backhoes and bulldozers for the inevitable cleanup of buildings that will be knocked down by airplanes that are going to crash into them going forward?

It has been almost 19 years since the mass shooting at Columbine High School. Since that time, school shootings have become all too common. I wonder what would have happened if Congress had acted as quickly and decisively after Columbine as it did after 9/11?

We need new leaders in Washington and Concord and Montpelier and every other state capital that will solve this problem. Like all problems, this does have a solution. But developing a solution must be done objectively — independent from all outside influence. Every option must be on the table. I fully expect that an effective solution will cause some of us to complain that our rights are being infringed. Keeping our students and citizens safe from this epidemic of gun violence requires bold and decisive action. Let’s use our votes to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change.

Jeff Ives


Establishing Well-Regulated Militias

How to combat gun violence? Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is correct: Repeal of the Second Amendment is clearly the best strategy for reaching that public safety goal. As debate on repeal proceeds, however, having a fallback strategy is appropriate.

The introductory words of the Second Amendment read, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary for the security of a free State. ...” (You know the rest.) What follows is a strategy for using the existing language of the Second Amendment as a means toward reducing gun violence at the state level.

Encourage each state to formalize the creation of one or more well-regulated militias.

Automatically enroll each licensed driver in a state-regulated militia of his or her choice.

Require each militia enrollee to drill with his or her militia one day a year.

Provide opt-out categories for the drill requirement. These could include attestation that the militia enrollee does not own a gun or that a health issue precludes the enrollee from drilling. The enrollee also could pay an annual drill-exemption fee, possibly of a “sliding scale” nature, such fees, in the aggregate, being set at a level adequate for funding the administrative costs of the well-regulated militias.

Jim Hughes

West Fairlee

Heat Pumps Need Efficient Homes

Regarding the Forum letter on heat pumps (“Calculating Heat Pump Performance,” March 30).

The engineer had installed two cold-climate heat pumps, which underperformed during colder weather. Because it is likely he has an average insulated and sealed house, he had to switch to his existing oil system at about 25 degrees because heat pumps become less efficient at lower temperatures and do not deliver enough heat to his house.

Now he has two heating systems: two heat pumps, at about $10,000, doing the light-duty work, mostly during spring and fall; and an oil system, at $10,000, doing the heavy-duty work at all other times when it is colder than 25 degrees.

This explains why energy savings, on average, are only $200 per year, as determined by the Vermont Department of Public Service survey. But two heating systems have maintenance and replacements costs far in excess of $200 per year.

All this means, only the most efficient houses are candidates for heat pumps.

Willem Post


Upcoming Renewable Heat Events

Thanks to the Valley News and staff writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling for the article about cold climate heat pumps (“Innovation, or Just Hot Air? Heat Pumps Gain Popularity in Cold Weather Climates,” March 25).

Clean, efficient, renewable heating from cold climate heat pumps and modern automated central wood pellet heating systems, combined with home energy efficiency, are key to reaching the state’s goal of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050. These systems can help save money, increase home comfort and reduce climate change impacts. Central to that is making sure you choose the most appropriate system and that it is professionally installed.

There are two upcoming opportunities to learn about each of these renewable heating technologies.

The Thetford Energy Committee is holding a free forum on net zero energy homes and heat pumps on April 10, at 6 p.m., at Thetford Academy’s Martha Rich Theater. The forum will feature high-efficiency builders, heat pump contractors, net zero homeowners and the Vermont State Employees Credit Union so you can learn about what makes sense for you. Efficiency Vermont’s $600 incentive on heat pumps is going away soon, so get connected while it lasts.

For more information, call Mary Bryant at 802-785-4512 or email Erica Ko at ericako@gmail.com.

Also on April 10, at 7 p.m., at the Chelsea Town Hall, there will be a free forum on high-efficiency, fully automated wood pellet boilers. Wood-heat experts will explain how heating with regionally sourced wood pellets retains wealth locally, creates jobs for our neighbors, decreases your carbon footprint, and helps keep forests viable.

Attendees will have an opportunity to talk with providers and users of these clean, hands-free whole-home wood heating systems that may decrease your heating bill by up to 30 percent, and learn about $7,000 in available rebates on these systems.

For more information, contact Sarah Brock at Vital Communities, 802-291-9100, ext. 109, or email sarah@vitalcommunities.org.

Bob Walker

Thetford Center

The writer chairs the Thetford Energy Committee