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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
February 27, 2018     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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February 27, 2018

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SPIRIT of JEFt ERSON and FARMER'S ADVOCATE ADVOCATE PAGE A7 Wednesday, l~i~bruary 21, 2(}1.8 SCOTT ROGERS Editor's note: Charles Town Mayor Scott types of tragedies from ever occurring again, Rogers shared the remarks he made Sunday while allowing law-abiding citizens to own "n t " night at the "Enough/Do Sometht g. vigil guns for hunting, sporting and home protec- : outside McMurran Hall in Shepherdstown: tion. ' I can say to you today that my views on rail- Just this past week we learned of another itary style assault weapons have irrevocably school shooting, another massacre of our chil- changed. dren, 17 people killed by a gunman Wednes- These are not weapons designed to"hunt, " day at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High you don't need them for home defense. These " School in Parkland, Fla. are weapons of mass destruction, designed to : And we hear more calls for thoughts and maximize the killing of people, and they have : prayers. As a man of faith and a person who no place in a civilized society. :-serves in my church, I can tell you thoughts Now, some West Virginia lawmakers have .and prayers are not enough, proposed House Bill 4298, an extreme bill, Thoughts and prayers without demonstra- which would allow students in West Virginia .:ble actions are just words, to bring guns onto college campuses. What we need, and what we demand, are All our public Mountain State four-year col- " common-sense gun laws that prevent these leges oppose this extreme, NRA-ba ked bill. The backers of this bill state that it will "thwart" mass shooters. However, WVU Po- lice Chief Bob Roberts said that's often not the case. He testified recently against the bill at the House Education committee. "Risk is the issue here," he said. Chief Roberts said studies indicate that the "good guy with the gun" is usually not the one to end an active shooter situation. Looking at 160 shootings, Roberts said "there was one that was ended by a person who had a con- cealed carry, and he was a Marine. There were four or five that were ended by security guards and off-duty police officers. There were 21 that were ended by unarmed citizens." The reality is officers responding to a shoot- ing cannot readily determine whom the good person with a gun or the perpetrator with a gun is. Our officers have only seconds to de- cide whether to shoot or not. This is not a cartoon western with good cow- boys in white hats and bad cowboys in black hats. This is real life, and this bill endangers the lives of our officers, citizens and students. There is a reason that youdon't see my son William here today as you so often do. He is just 6 years old and a student in elementary school, and truthfully, my wife and I have hid- den this tragedy from him. We want him to be just an innocent boy for a little while longer and not scared to go to school. The only monsters I want him to fear are those found in his storybooks. But we know we will have to have a con- versation with him on gun violence soon, and it saddens me to have to tell him that there are very real monsters in this world. So, let us solve this problem now. No more dead students, and no more grieving parents. If we stand strong together and allow for no more excuses, we will succeed. ROBERTSNYDER The names of the 17 victims of last week's school shooting in Parkland, Fla are displayed Sunday evening in front of McMurran Hall In Shepherdstown. Dozens gathered for a vigil where speakers called for changes in gun laws so that young people and school employees can go to school and not worry about a gun attack, SIKARA SOKEL Teen is tired of feeling scared at school Editor's note: This is a condensed version of a column written after Wednesday's shooting by a sophomore at Jefferson High School How many more innocent students, teach- ers, coaches and children have to be murdered in their own schools, before you say enough is enough and start to make a change? Not ready to talk about gun control? Tell that to the distraught, grieving and furious families and friends of Jaime Guttenberg, Martin Deque, Aaron Feis, Chris Hixon, Gina Montalto, Luke Hoyer, Carmen Schentrup, Meadow Pollack, Joaquin Oliver, Nicholas Dworet, Peter Wang, Alyssa Alhadeff, Alaina Petty, Cara Loughran, Alex Schachter, Scott Beigel and Helena Ramsay. These were people's children, parents, fam- ilies, friends. They are gone because our gov- ernment had let an AR-15, a machine of war capable of killing 80 people in less than two minutes, into the arms of a deranged teenager. They came up with excuse after excuse. Our government blamed this on his mental illness, to which I say: 1) There are millions ,of the mentally ill not going around ruthlessly murdering people; 2) Even-if we are going to . say it was because of his mental illness, you did not perform a background check on him before allowing him to buy this weapon. That background check could have told you that he was not mentally stable. He should not have been able to buy that weapon; and 3) If this "is because of mental illness, please be aware that on May 4, 2017, [President] Trump and the rest of his party celebrated passing a bill that was to take away health care, including mental health care, from millions of Ameri- cans. If Nikolas Cruz had not been legally able to buy a machine of war, if he had a knife, he could not have injured nearly as many inno- cent people. The government cares more about the mon- ey they are getting from the National Rifle Association than students, teachers and citi- ' zens. We need gun control and we need it now - gun control as in stricter laws, background checks, yearly checkups to make sure the gun owner is still mentally stable and not planning to shoot up a school. The problem is that children, including my- self, are terrified to go into school every day. On Wednesday night when I learned there had been yet another high school shooting, I scrolled through Twitter and was absolute- ly horrified - the sound of the gunshots and the earsplitting screams of innocent chil- dren just moments before they were gunned down. I saw videos of kids running through the halls with their hands up, dodging the life- less fallen bodies of their classmates on the ground. These videos made me sick to my stomach. The next morning I stood in front of my school with a pit of fear in my stomach, scared of the possibilities of what could hap- pen, scared to walk in. School should be a safe space, somewhere I go to get an education. Instead, it is a place where I sit from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. won- dering if I will be safe, or if today will be my last. When I hear the electronic door across the hall unlock, I think: Is it a student, or a gun- man about to enter the school? Was that a gun- shot I just heard, or was it a student dropping a textbook or slamming a locker? Do I have. easy access to my phone, so that if I become aware there is an active shooter in the school, I can text my parents to tell them "Goodbye" and that I love them? Is there a door close to me? Where will I go if I hear gunshots? In Australia in 1996, a gunman with a gun similar to the one Nikolas Cruz used to kill his former classmates shot and killed 35 and less than two weeks later, the country put into place stricter gun laws. Australia has not had a mass shooting since. How many more students, teachers and citi- zens have to be killed in the United States? I am done being quiet. We are the people who want change. And we won't stop until we get it. JENNIFER WARD Another massacre rocks Parkland, Florida," our Gov. universities, superseding the oui: country, this time in Jim Justice issued a procla- policies and desires of our Parkland, Fla. Like a storm mation that flags be displayed West Virginia institutions or a war, we identify these at half-staff, yet in 2017 he of higher learning.A culture horrific events with a sin- signed two pro-gun bills into that respects life also fosters gular name: Las Vegas, Or- law/House Bill 2679 allows safe communities for our lando, Virginia Tech, Auro- firearms in parks and recre- young people. ra, Sandy Hook, Sutherland ation areas, including mu- Murder and suicide at- Springs, Columbine. nicipal city parks, overrid- tempts are most successful Did you hear the chilling ing any local laws; and Sen- when guns are used, and al- screams and aggressive gun- ate Bill 388 permits loaded ready, firearms are a leading fire recorded on the scene at and unsecured firearms onto cause of death for the young the Parkland school shoot- school property within motor aged 15 to 24 in America. ing? How can one not feel vehicles. It is irresponsible and ludi- sick and heartbroken, moti- Our West Virginia attor- crous to permit this vulnera- vated to act decisively to con- ney general Patrick Morris- ble population liberal access front these tragedies? How sey is leading a 21-state co- to even more firearms. can we allow our leaders to alition challenging prohibi- The representatives of the continue to offer only cheap tions on sales and posses- Eastern Panhandle of West platitudes, but no policies? sion of certain semi-auto- Virginia tout their pro-fh'e- As the fatalities and fre- matic dries and large-capac- arm anti-life advocacy, as quencies of these horrid ity magazines, well as the support they have events increase, we must Now, the National Ri- from the NRA. Citizens must act. It is a moral failure for fie Association is "seeking confront the gun lobby's us not to act. We cannot save several significant pro-gun control of our government our outrage for when it hap- measures" in our state dur- and their manipulation of our pens to our children or in ing the 2018 legislative ses- politicians. our town. These are all our sion. Even though West Vir- It is time for accountabil- children, ginia has some of the most ity and action. Let your rep- There are more firearms in lax gun laws in the country, resentatives know that we the United States than there the NRA and our politicians don't want firearms in our are people, and not one of beholden to them work ac- schools or around our chil- our communities is immune tively to eradicate all sensi- dren. We want our commu- from gun violence. Jefferson ble restrictions, nities spared from gun vio- County, West Virginia is not Shockingly, House Bill lence, and our schools safe. immune from gun violence. 4298, currently being shep- The blood of our children is How are our state and local herded through committee in our hands. representatives addressingby Jefferson County Dele- this epidemic? gate Paul Espinosa, would -Jennifer Ward "As a sign of respect for the allow firearms on the cam- writes from her home school shooting victims in puses of our colleges and in Charles Town JIM BAUMAN Patriotism demands that gun laws change Gun advocates seem increasingly resistant, even immune, to the social disease of mass killings, such as the Douglas High School shooting on Valentine's Day where 17 were killed. In the West Virginia Legislature, House Bill 4298 with nine Republican and two Democratic sponsors has the purpose of denying colleges and universities the right to keep lawfully purchased concealed guns off campus. The tire of the proposed !aw is the "Cam- pus Self Defense Act." It could as well and more honestly be called the "Campus Gun Slingers Act." The inaction of these NRA-bought legislators, who after each shooting offer us noth- ing other than prayers for the victims, is testament to how they've inoculated themselves against passing even the most minimal controls. The proposed ban on bump stocks, which initially had some bipartisan support after the Las Vegas shooting where 59 were killed has gone nowhere in Congress. Instead, the majority of Americans who advocate for greater gun control are being guilt- ed into buying the hype of Second Amendment advocates that guns protect, not destroy. It is as if a trust in the Gun Amendment is definitional to being a true, patriotic American. As if proponents believe it the most important one of the Bill of Rights. All the others pale in comparison. I absolutely reject that argument. I'm a patriotic American, but not because of the Second Amendment. I believe along with other gun control advocates that the Second Amendment has been drastically misinterpreted by the Supreme Court. It was, remember, merely one vote in the Court's 5-4 split decision that has abetted these killings and made future killings inevitable. It was one vote that has turned our Congress spineless. It was just one vote by one justice, one citizen, one gun advocate. That's certainly not a convincing example of the infallibility of the court's decision-making process and decidedly not a strong enough decision to estab- lish a criterion for patriotism. It is instead an argument that the West Virginia Legislature should give more thouglat to the harm that making weapon bans illegal can cause. HB 4298 is headed to the Education Com- mittee. It should die there in reverent memory of the SandyHook Elementary School killings (26 killed, including 20 first-graders). Legislate for victims, for change, for a change. - Jim Bauman writes from his home in Bakerton Share your views on what matters Email letters to editor@ and please include yot,r ful'l ,ame and y:be faxed (30,4-728-6856) or mailed (P.O. Box 966 Charles Town 25414) I i L