Forum, March 7: Talk to Friends and Neighbors About the NRA

Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Talk to Friends and Neighbors

I think we can all agree with the Florida students and their parents when they say they want some sort of gun reform so the deaths that happened at their school will not have been in vain.

However, as I hear the reports of the students speaking to Florida government representatives and to our president, I cannot help but think that nothing will come of that effort. The people we all need to be speaking to are our friends and neighbors who are members of the National Rifle Association.

I believe the majority of NRA members are law-abiding citizens who just want to make sure they will continue to have their rifles to hunt and their shotguns to protect their homes. It’s not the gun-show loophole, the high-capacity magazines, the semiautomatic weapons (or the “bump stocks” that make them almost automatic) they are trying to protect. They are worried that the government, if allowed to pass any gun-reform law, will come for their firearms.

The NRA perpetuates this fear. Political races are very expensive, and the NRA make sure it donates enough money to the candidates they want in office to help make them successful, and to make it political suicide for a politician to vote for any gun-reform law.

In my view, if the politicians did nothing after the killing of 20 small children at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, they will never, ever act. So we must turn to our friends and neighbors and tell them that they must stand up to their own organization and demand commonsense gun reform.

The battle cry “I am the NRA and I vote” must be joined by a second battle cry: “I am the NRA and I refuse to stand by and do nothing to prevent gun violence in this country simply out of the false fear and paranoia that someone is going to take away my guns.”

Barry Wenig


Calling the Governor on Guns

Gov. Chris Sununu was interviewed on public radio following the most recent school shooting. He proved amazingly adept at avoiding all questions that dealt with changing the extremely permissive firearms policies in New Hampshire. “I’m not sure stricter gun control is the answer” he said several times. It’s up to the federal government, according to our governor. His suggestions were that we “talk to our kids” and provide more counseling in schools.

Yet seven states and the District of Columbia have managed to pass assault weapons bans. After the expiration of the federal ban on assault weapons in 2004, and the failure of Congress to renew it, they have reasoned that it now falls upon the states to pass sensible laws to prohibit these deadly weapons. So many of our leaders are beholden to the gun manufacturers and the NRA. I had foolishly hoped that Sununu was not among them. If you feel strongly about this issue call the governor’s office at 603-271-2121.

Denise Stanley


How Will We Maintain Our Roads?

A recent letter argued against a proposed fee for fuel-efficient vehicles (“Don’t Tax Our Fuel Efficiency,” Feb. 24). Do you have any idea what you’re asking for? Who is going to pay for our roads and bridges? Do you realize that a new 2015 passenger vehicle was 57 percent more fuel efficient then the average car then on the road? Or that from 2014-16, most drivers had recovered enough from the Great Recession to replace their cars?

Say people in the top half of the income brackets bought a new car at least 57 percent more efficient than what they had been driving. Maybe one-third went out and bought a used car — one that the top half traded in. It was prone to breakdowns and had pre-2008 fuel economy, but they needed a car to get to work, to carry their tools, or to plow the snow off your driveway.

These are the people you are asking to fund our roads and bridges. The gas tax is quickly going the way of the dodo as hybrids and electrics take over the market. In less than 10 years, when the working poor go to buy a used vehicle, it will be capable of something approaching 35 mpg. That’s almost twice the average mileage of 2010, and means less than half the tax collection for our roads. Soon, we will not be able to raise the gas tax enough on the people who would be paying it to maintain any roads but the interstates — assuming the feds figure out how to keep matching state highway costs at 80 percent. Are we going to have hover cars by then?

The rapid improvement in fuel economy, started with President Barack Obama’s regulations, is accelerating faster now because many other countries are telling auto manufacturers they will buy only electric or hybrid vehicles a few years from now. This is a good thing. But it also means we have to revise how we raise money to maintain our roads — until we have hover cars and can let it all crumble into dust.

Rep. Susan Almy


L.L. Bean’s Unhappy Returns

I recently received a letter “signed” by L.L. Bean Executive Chairman Shawn O. Gorman. Its intent was to announce a major change in his company’s return policy. It seems that Bean employees’ acceptance of merchandise worn well past its useful life played out to the limits of corporate patience.

Gorman’s letter suggests that “some customers” have interpreted the company’s 100 percent money-back guarantee “well beyond its original intent,” while others have negotiated returns for products purchased “at yard sales.” Valley News readers can judge Bean’s misgivings in their own way. I, for one, have witnessed questionable returns ranging from brazen to outrageous.

I have gone to L.L. Bean stores looking for, say, a belt “like this one,” a part to repair a camp chair, or a strap for a cargo carrier, and been persuaded to accept a full replacement instead. L.L. Bean’s brand of generosity worked in mysterious ways. Customers have also seen a steady rise in their prices, which might be interpreted as a kind of “insurance policy” against overwhelming quantities of returns. Apparently, L.L. Bean could not keep pace with customers out to take advantage of a good thing.

But that liberal return policy also had another effect. Comforted by Bean’s guarantee that customers could return anything and everything, we made maybe too many purchases. I can attest to that fact; my home is overstocked with L.L. Bean attaché cases, “Boat and Totes” and luggage. (You never know when you’ll need a good gift.)

Of course, there came times when I had to return something, but whenever I did, I always applied those refunds toward yet more purchases.

From the tone and substance of Gorman’s communiqué, however, the days of endless buying sprees are now gone. In the future, customers will have to weigh the necessity of their purchases. Certainly they will save lots of money, but they’ll miss that L.L. Bean guarantee of “100 percent satisfaction.”

All good things must come to an end.

Ralph Epifanio


Response Reflects Badly on Police

We all see and hear the expression “If you see something, say something” these days. I know the authorities have their hands full, but I was not impressed with the response from my local police department last winter when I said something.

Several nights on my way home from work I came upon a woman dressed in dark clothing pushing a dark baby carriage on Shaker Hill Road in Enfield. She wore nothing reflective. My vision is fine but I did not see her until the last seconds each time. I could have stopped, but I’m not sure a woman and baby would want to be approached by a strange man after dark. I felt the best thing to do would be to contact the police and ask that, if they see this person, to please approach her and explain that what she was doing was dangerous. The response by the police: “It’s not my job to tell people what to wear.”

So much for To Protect and Serve. Better to try to educate people than to have to mop up the mess on the side of the road. With that attitude, I’m not sure I will call next time I see something.

Steve Touchette


She’s No Fan of ‘Mallard Fillmore’

I am not a fan of the comic strip Mallard Fillmore, but the cartoon that appeared on Feb. 25 was just plain offensive. It degraded high school girls as not being intelligent enough to disapprove of “rude, self-centered, domineering behavior” in boys.

This cartoon is offensive on so many levels. To allow this comic to be printed at a time when there are so many movements to empower women and girls is unconscionable. I have seen other Forum letters asking the Valley News to drop this cartoon and I implore the paper to reconsider its obvious decision to continue printing this often-offensive strip. I encourage other readers to let the Valley News know that you find this comic strip distasteful and want it dropped.

Clare Forseth

White River Junction