IN THE MAIL

What problem do we want

to solve and deal with now?

Editor:

Mass shootings in “gun free zones” happen all over the world. In recent decades in fourteen countries as well as America. Way more if we include bomb use. When they happen here we immediately get liberal calls for gun bans, universal background checks (which are required now in CA, CO, CT, DE, OR, NY and WA), closing the “gun show loophole” (no such thing exists), raising the age to buy guns, get rid of the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment, etc. From the conservative side we get calls to enforce the laws already on the books and getting rid of “gun free zones.” Both sides call for dealing more aggressively with mental illness and getting known criminals and mental defectives on the National Instant Check System.

That is a long list of issues. Since most topics are very contentious between the parties, and not easy to solve quickly anyway, arguing about all of them every time an event happens predictably results in little or no action.

Add to this that it seems every single mass shooter/killer in American massacres is either/both insane or a first or second generation Islamic radical (except perhaps the Las Vegas shooter — we still don’t seem to know much about him), we throw into the mix immigration policy, too.

We should pick the most important problem to solve and deal with it now, at the exclusion of the others for the moment unless they are necessary to tackle as part of dealing with our number one issue.

Doesn’t it seem logical the number one issue is stopping the high body count of injuries and death at any one massacre? How do we do that? Logic suggests the most direct answers are keep the bad guy guns out of the venue and/or stop the killer from shooting as soon as possible after firing begins.

After Sandy Hook in Newtown, CT, the NRA created the NRA National School Shield Program. The program has trained and certified law enforcement officials to conduct comprehensive vulnerability assessments of school buildings and grounds and provides the requesting school a confidential report and a presentation to school officials on the school’s physical security, communications systems and overall preparedness. No charge to the school. The NRA has done over 150 of those assessments in schools around the country in the last three years. Twelve were done on Montana schools in 2017. Then, if the school wants to correct the security deficiencies, they can apply through the NRA grant process for money to pay for the work. The NRA does not have a huge supply of money for this, (our charitable NRA Foundation money comes mostly from our volunteer fundraiser banquets) especially if a flood of schools ask for funds, but wouldn’t it be a great program for the NRA to partner its assessment inspectors with the federal government for infrastructure funds targeted toward school preparedness security? That would address the physical structure issues, (i.e. grounds fencing, metal detectors, bulletproof glass, buzz-in self locking security doors, cameras, etc.) with enough money to cover way more schools than the NRA is able to handle on its own.

Not only is the NRA not a villain in this matter, I believe it is the only organization that is already working nationwide to strengthen our school security measures. If someone knows of any other organization doing similar work, let us all know about it. They deserve our support.

The absolute quickest way to stop bad-guy killers that are on site firing a gun is to have good guys with guns already on site, too. Seems like a crazy dumb discussion right now on whether we should or should not rely just on armed teachers to be the front line of armed defense. If our kids are as important to us as our money, airplanes, jewelry and politicians, why not increase our police forces enough to have a couple uniformed officers report to work daily at our schools? That would be a lot cheaper in the end than burying murdered children and teachers and tearing down shot up schools only to rebuild their replacements somewhere else. If it means everyone pays a little more in taxes to the town or county where they live, isn’t that a small price to pay to stop the mass carnage?

Of course, actually following and enforcing on a timely basis the gun laws already on the books would have clearly stopped most every one of the attacks we have had in America, but just as clearly the risks of relying on government officials to always do their job to prevent these deaths is too high to leave our schools vulnerable “gun free zones.”

Most of the time the most effective solution to even big problems is the most obvious. Does anyone see any reason why we can’t do as suggested here and simply harden our physical plant security and add a few guards like we have at banks and jewelry stores?

Larry Stephenson

Paradise Valley

Standing up to the NRA

and wanton violence in our schools

Editor:

On our highways we have speed limits to protect one another from reckless and out-of-control drivers, in campgrounds we have designated “quiet hours” to respect one another’s peace and solitude and we have fishing and hunting regulations to ensure that we safeguard the health and population status of our natural resources of fish and wild game. As a society, we compromise on sensible laws and regulations to maintain a just and civil society. Yet, in the wake of recent and ongoing mass shootings in our public schools and gathering places throughout the United States, our elected politicians can not, or refuse, to enact common sense laws and regulations for gun control and safety.

We now live in a society where politicians are beholden to corporate and special interests that disregard that the majority of their constitutes are sick and tired of witnessing the slaughter of our fellow citizens and school children. I support the survivors of the Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School to pressure the Florida legislature and our U.S. Congress to enact stronger and stringent common sense gun regulations; abolish assault style weapons and vigorously enforce background checks to anyone who wants to posses a firearm.

I will support, through my vote, politicians that will have the guts and fortitude to stand up to the National Rifle Association and say “no more” to the wanton violence against our neighbors and innocent young lives in our schools.

Jim Horan

Livingston

Let’s stand together in opposition

of BLM oil and gas leases in area

Editor:

Kudos to the Livingston City Commission, and Commissioner Sarah Sandberg in particular, for considering writing a letter to the Bureau of Land Management expressing concern over the government’s move to open up around 4,200 acres just south of Livingston to oil and gas development.

It is heartening to see the responsiveness of our local elected officials to an emerging issue that could threaten our air and water quality as well as sacrifice Livingston’s ‘golden goose’ — the irreplaceable scenic backdrop of our little town. One really can’t put a dollar value on that backdrop. As but one small

example — my office is right on Main Street — It seems that every morning and evening during the summer, I see visitors snapping photos of our iconic Main Street with the mountains as the backdrop — and the flats on the other side of the river which the government wants to lease out at $2 an acre for oil and gas development. While the BLM has attempted to play down the likelihood of these leases being developed, it is important to note that once a lease is sold, that leaseholder has a legal right to attempt to develop minerals on that lease parcel. Lease stipulations that may restrict location or timing of development (or even have ‘no surface occupancy’ stipulations) may sound good on paper but the reality is once industry has a lease and they want to pursue development, BLM will make sure they get their way. That’s what they do.

We do not want to head down the road that so many communities in the west have gone where leases have been issued and the community spends the next couple of decades fighting off oil and gas development on their doorstep. Oil and gas development has its place. This place is not one of them.

It is critical that the BLM pull these leases from the March lease sale — something they can do up to 24 hours before that sale. One big step in getting them to do just that is for our elected officials to step forward with us to voice their concerns. Please join your fellow citizens at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6 at the City-County Complex when the City Commission will finalize its letter to the BLM. There’s really no end to stupid ideas but thankfully we here in Livingston and Park County know what a special place we have and we are willing to fight to defend our local economy and our way of life. Come stand together.

Tim Stevens

Livingston

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