Hundreds gather for ‘Enough is Enough’ vigil in Lexington, call for action on gun violence
‘Fixes’ bear NRA stamp
President Donald Trump and his spokesmen have claimed credit for action to reduce gun violence with the ban on bump stocks and “Fix NICS” bill. Kentucky, don’t be fooled. Those measures were no deviation from Republican obeisance to the National Rifle Association’s irresponsible, callous, self-serving agenda. In fact, the NRA supported both measures. After 59 people were murdered in Las Vegas, bills were introduced to ban bump stocks and open a broader gun control debate. The NRA opposed them and quietly suggested Trump instead ban bump stocks by executive order, which he did. An executive order is easier to reverse than an act of Congress and saved the cowardly Republican-controlled Congress from discussing proposals that could lower their NRA ratings.
The Fix NICS law applies penalties to government agencies for not reporting mental illness data to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. That will be helpful. But it is a far cry from the universal background checks provided in House Resolution 8, which was passed by the U.S. House and quashed by Sen. Mitch McConnell, but supported by the vast majority of Americans. Current law does not require unlicensed sellers to do background checks, though about one in five gun purchases are made from those sellers.
Rita Swan, Lexington
Laws save lives
Firearm suicide is a significant public health crisis as every year because more than 22,000 Americans die by firearm suicide, including more than 1,000 children and teens. Red flag and Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws, which provide due process and temporarily remove guns from a person in crisis, have saved lives. In Indiana, a 7.5 percent reduction in firearm suicide was recorded after such a law went into effect, according to a study published by the American Psychiatric Association.
After my daughter Savannah’s murder, I took all of my son Nate’s guns away. He said it was futile for me to do so, proving it by legally obtaining a gun within an hour of that removal. With a red flag law, I could have petitioned a judge to have his guns temporarily removed. Nate would have not wanted to break the law to obtain another firearm. Nate committed suicide six months later with that gun. My son was a soul worth saving. I know far too many families who feel that same way about a loved one. A red flag law, combined with background checks for all gun sales, would have saved my son’s life.
It is simple: change gun laws or change Congress. Sen. Mitch McConnell needs to do the right thing and save lives.
Dean A. Walker, Louisville
Self-interest, not safety
Are Kentucky legislators statesmen or politicians and what does Kentucky deserve? A statesman is one who acts for the welfare of most constituents with little or minimal personal gain. In contrast, politicians expect to attain a goal of personal gain e.g., reelection, power, or recognition, through political maneuvers. A statesman thinks about the next generation, a politician about the next election.
A state’s ranking on many life parameters is one method to evaluate how effectively Kentucky legislators serve the constituents. Kentucky is not faring well when we are in the bottom ranks of median income, education attainment, and health status with the highest rates of smoking, drug addiction, and cancer deaths in the United States.
Kentucky also has an “F” grade for safe gun control policies, according to the Giffords Law Center. The estimated annual cost of Kentucky gun violence is $3.6 billion or $819 per person. A Kentucky gun fatality occurs every 13 hours. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked gun control debate despite escalating mass shootings. McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul are complicit in jeopardizing the safety of Kentuckians and all US citizens. We need statesmen to protect us, not politicians working for the NRA.
Sharon L. Sheahan, Lexington
Saving face instead of lives
Sen. Mitch McConnell is still shell- shocked from President Donald Trump’s turnaround that led to our nation’s longest shutdown in late 2018 and early 2019, so he won’t do anything as a leader in the legislative branch of our constitutional government without Trump’s pre-approval.
“I said a few weeks ago that if the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I would be happy to put it on the floor and the administration is in the process of studying what they are prepared to support if anything,” McConnell said on the Hugh Hewitt radio program.
McConnell is more concerned about serial votes and saving face than he is about mass murderers and toddlers being shot in the face.
Jamie Kirven, Louisville
Gun violence in America has got to stop. You would think that the politicians would have done something to address this after our children were massacred in their schools; nope, nothing. You would think they might do something to help stop this after people were gunned down in places of worship; nope, nothing. Now we are being killed in public places all over the country. What’s being done about it; nothing. If you think this is not your problem, think about the guy who just got fired from your country club, your law firm, your medical practice, your business. Think about whether he has a grudge; he probably has a gun. This has become an American problem that has to be fixed. If the politician you voted for is more interested in protecting the NRA than protecting you, vote him out of office. Our lives may depend on it.
Chris Bohmer, Lexington
Gorton should sign
A woman was shot recently as she was leaving Fayette Mall. An elderly couple was recently accosted by two individuals with a gun at the Nicholasville Road Walmart. These and the other gun-related incidents in our city which have and have not made the news are evidence of increasing gun-related violence in Lexington and throughout our country. Yet, Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton has yet to sign the bi-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors gun violence petition urging Sen. Mitch McConnell to allow sensible gun reform bills which have documented efficacy to be debated and passed when the Senate reconvenes. The mayors of Louisville and Frankfort have already signed the petition.
We request that Gorton join the many U.S. mayors addressing this nonpartisan issue by adding her name to the petition or contacting McConnell directly to urge him to allow Senate debate and votes on this issue.
Barbara Plymale, Lexington, on behalf of Progressive Christianity and Top of the Hill Adult Classes of Central Christian Church