Letters to the Editor for Feb. 26, 2013

The realities of gun laws and school security

Laws are nothing but words in a document that the majority of the general public doesn’t know exists, or what they are, because they don’t need to. And those that do know and choose to obey them are not criminals.

Laws don’t stop criminals or people with a mission to commit an unlawful act. They only allow law enforcement agencies to investigate, arrest and fine, or kill, someone who violates one of them.

No matter how many laws are added, people who want to get a gun will get one.

And when did you last read a media article where law enforcement agencies stopped a crime before it happened? They don’t usually respond until after a crime has occurred, or when one has been discovered from an investigation, sting action or surveillance.

School security is another issue. Arming teachers and/or staff, increasing resource officers, adding armed law enforcement personnel at schools and having and practicing lock-down procedures are all good, but they are all after-the-fact solutions. They occur only after the danger is alerted, or when a person may have immediate access to, or is already in a building.

The number one priority for school security should be to not allow a possible, or probable, dangerous situation or person to get inside the building or classroom.

Proof of this is evident if you have observed how the airports, court houses, hospitals, fire and police departments, the White House, military bases, state capitals (except Oregon and some others) and many other buildings control entrance security.

Entrance to these places is allowed only through a secure entrance or entrances. And entrance(s) is/are controlled by physically armed or unarmed guards, surveillance cameras and electronic door unlocking by a person or key card readers or digitally coded pads at unsupervised locations.

Some locations where key card readers and digital pads are used, such as fire and police departments, also usually have at the entry voice communications system to a person who can unlock the door. I suspect they also have surveillance cameras.

Possession of a gun carry permit and a gun safety class is not satisfactory training for teachers, staff or any other person not trained in using, maintaining or qualifying with the weapon to be used.

In the military, you are trained to maintain and shoot a weapon with accuracy and ammunition preservation.

Ask yourself, why does it take a policeman, or multiple policemen, 15 shots to kill one person? Is he really qualified to use the weapon? I don’t want to ever be in a school, or any place else, with armed personnel who have only a gun permit and a gun safety class and are shooting.

Also, to the best of my knowledge, hunting rifles and shotguns do not require permits of any kind, and can actually be carried loaded in a vehicle, if you have a valid hunting or fishing license, and are traveling to do one of those activities. If you were stopped by a policeman and you had a fishing pole with you, how could he prove that wasn’t your intent?

Please don’t get me wrong, I think guns should be tracked from the manufacturer to its destruction like vehicles, and violators put in jail for a long enough period to ensure it isn’t repeated.

However, in reality, the law would be difficult to enforce because of private and criminal transfers and theft, and guns being shipped out of the country and later returned via the black market. Requiring background checks for all weapons sales would also be difficult to enforce for the same reasons.

Also, I believe if someone uses a gun to take a life, except lawfully and proven self defense, I think a quick and fair trial and capital punishment is in order.

Arnold Dingley, Camas

Questions for Skamania commissioners

With two new commissioners in Skamania County who campaigned for more transparency in county government, we thought it might be a good time to put things to the test. With the hope of helping the community better understand our financial position, the following were some of the questions we presented to the County Commissioners at the end of January.

These are based upon a simple mantra: Know where you’re at, understand how you got here, and have plans for where you want to go.

1 - Were any interest payments toward the current $2.5 million loan included in the 2013 budget? If so how much? (The conditions require we make interest payments on Dec 1st and June 1st of each year until the final payment is due; are those in the current budget?)

2 - If we do not have any funds to pay off the loan on June 1 of 2015, how much will (or could) property taxes increase to satisfy the balloon payment, and for how long? This may not be necessary, but Section 9 of the loan states that the county “will make annual levies of taxes upon all of the property in the county subject to taxation and as a part of the tax levy permitted to all counties without a vote of the electors in amounts sufficient to pay such principal and interest as the same shall become due.”

3 - What was the county’s reserve fund balance as of Jan. 1, 2004?

4 - Will you support a measure that would require the county assessor to notify each property owner of the specific amount any tax proposal would have upon their property twice: once when the proposed increase is certified to be placed on the ballot and again five days before the ballots are mailed out to voters?

5 - What does bankruptcy look like for a county in Washington State? i.e. What happens and who’s in control of jobs, spending and services? We need to understand the consequences of not putting our house in order.

We hope to share the responses when we have all of them.

Tom Lannen, Mike Mapes, Stevenson

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