Forum, May 10: Lack of trust impedes progress on gun safety

Published: 5/10/2022 6:01:48 AM
Modified: 5/10/2022 6:00:09 AM
Lack of trust impedes progress on gun safety

America is governed by a patchwork of laws about how people can buy and carry firearms. We know that a clear relationship exists between loose gun laws and the number of gun deaths in any given state. With about 400 million guns in private hands, our murder rate is vastly higher than that of any other rich country. The call for gun control is loud. As Gov. Kathy Hochul exclaimed after the recent Brooklyn subway shooting: “No more. No more mass shootings.”

In addition to sympathizing with victims of gun violence, the public supports instituting background checks on all gun sales. Most recently, the Biden administration has updated the regulation of “ghost guns,” subjecting them to the same regulations as traditional firearms.

I think these well-intentioned efforts are superficial. At a time when politics is often contemptuous in speech or behavior, we need to delve deeper into our gun-riddled culture. A number of factors are relevant to our gun obsession, one major one being the trust levels. Currently, citizens are showing their distrust of our institutions and health care experts, as well as their fears that government will take away their guns, through disruptions at school board meetings, for example. This mindset is reinforced through social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, which have weakened the “mortar of trust” by fragmenting the public into mutually hostile groups. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt refers to this as “thought-policing on social media,” involving a small, elitist subset of the population on the extremes of both the left and the right.

If distrust in the public mind is pervasive, it would behoove us to listen to commentator David Brooks, who warned, “Unless we can find a way to rebuild trust, the nation does not function.” What can we do?

Let’s support:

■Regulation of volatile social media to curb disinformation.

■Engagement of residents on the local level in solving community/societal challenges.

■Future leaders working for the greater good.

■Social inclusion.

■Institutions that deliver real benefits for people.

■Programs such as “Better Together.”

Remember: our individual flourishing is bound up in collective well-being.

Bob Scobie

West Lebanon

Lacrosse games bring Twin States together

The Hanover Lions “Byrne Cup” Twin State All-Star Lacrosse Games will be played this year on Saturday, June 18, at Hanover High School’s Branch-Merriman turf playing field. The girls’ game will begin at 12:30 p.m., and the boys’ game will begin at 3 p.m.

This year’s event will be the 29th all-star contest for the boys, and the 26th for the girls, played every year since 1993, except 2020. All participants are graduated/graduating seniors chosen by their respective coaches’ associations as outstanding players from their respective states of Vermont and New Hampshire. Players from schools that do not play within the guidelines set by each state’s interscholastic athletic body are not eligible. In the past, the contests between traditional rivals Vermont and New Hampshire have produced some great competition and exciting moments.

The Games are sponsored by the Hanover Lions Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and all net proceeds will go toward funding charities and community efforts the Lions support. In past years, several private, individual donors, including the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, have graciously contributed significant donations of money or time, and several businesses have generously purchased advertising in the program to help reduce the cost of the tournament to the players. The Hanover Lions wish to publicly thank those sponsors and advertisers in advance.

2021’s games resulted in New Hampshire girls’ and boys’ victories, with scores of 15-5 and 16-10, respectively. This year’s event promises once again to showcase great high school lacrosse. The games will be livestreamed, for those who cannot attend, at the following website: But please come in person if you can — all are welcome to attend the event, and there is no admissions charge.

However, as the event is a charity fundraising effort, we will gladly accept donations in lieu of an admission cost. If anyone is interested in sponsoring the event by purchasing an ad in the program, please let us know. We’re looking forward to a great day of lacrosse in June.

William H. (Star) Johnson


The writer is director of the Hanover Lions “Byrne Cup” Twin State All-Star Lacrosse Games.

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