Take Crime Seriously

To the Editor:

Once again after a mass shooting, all kinds of ideas come out that have been tried and failed are based on lack of research. The theory that one more law will fix things has a history of failure, as murder has been a violation of the law for some time. What if the existing laws had more teeth and were enforced? I have asked some of my representatives to introduce laws that would target gun crimes. If a gun is displayed in the commission of a crime, an additional year should be added to the sentence if convicted, to be served consecutive to the underlying sentence. Consecutive means that the sentence begins after the underlying sentence has been maxed out.

If a person commits a crime and the gun is fired, a five year sentence to serve consecutive should be imposed upon conviction. If a gun is fired and a person hit, the consecutive sentence should be ten years, if a person is killed twenty years. The assumption that criminals are stupid is based on an evil act; stupid and evil are not synonymous. Most people including criminals do what they do to get what they want or need as long as it gets them what they want or need.

Another subject that comes up is better background checks. I don’t think most people would object to that, if it was of any value. What the same advocates fail to do is offer ways to get critical things on file to be discovered in a background check. In every shooting except maybe the Las Vegas shooting people come out and said they were not surprised. In the Parkland shooting, students and faculty told of all kinds of indicators, but it was more important to protect the kid who turned into a mass killer than the kids who turned into victims. There were nearly thirty different points where if a person had communicated with others, the shooting could have been prevented.

In the Sandy Hook shooting, there mental health concerns and nothing was done. Mental health is a nebulous term and going down that road is scary, but with checks and balances could have real value. HIPPA laws forbid the release of any information unless a threat is immediate and planned (the plan need not be realistic). HIPPA should be changed to “if a threat self or others, is believable”. Under the proposed “Red Flag” laws, the threat only has to exist in somebodies mind; there must be a middle ground and due process.

We need to focus on better communications, if nothing is entered in anyone’s background, nothing will be found in a better background check.

An interesting point that many attempt to make, is the assumption that the authors of the Constitution and the voters believed the government may take away their right to hunt rabbits and deer. The authors were talking about “all enemies foreign and domestic” the military, the farmers and shop keepers all had the same quality of firearms. At the time the Constitution was approved by the states, they had just finished a war of independence.

If the right to bear arms was about rabbit hunting, one may have a good case that hunting licenses are an “Infringement” on that right. If the bill of Rights was only valid for technology that existed at that time, the 1st amendment would only protect speech written by quills.

It is time to take crime seriously and hold criminals accountable for their action, value life, and work together to prevent these acts, whether it is in the streets, schools or other public places. If the press or government was serious about preventing these killings, they would look into every incident, identify each point where intervention did not take place, and articulate the commonalities to deter future shootings. If there was as much interest in protecting lives as restricting rights, the chance of success would improve drastically.

Fred Gorham

Lyndonville, Vermont


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