Letter to the Editor for August 11

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‘Open carry’ allowed unless specifically prohibited 

Dan Kowal’s letter of Aug. 4 (N.C. Firearms laws discriminatory) contains factual errors and assumptions that need to be corrected. Mr. Kowal evidently met an “open carrier” of a handgun that misinformed him as to N.C. law. Anyone legally qualified to own a firearm in N.C. does not need a “concealed carry permit” to openly carry said gun. Such permits are only required for those who wish to conceal their firearm.  Mr. Kowal then lists five places where he claims guns can be openly carried.  That list was an expansion of the places concealed (or open) carriers could carry and not in any way a limit on where open carry is allowed. Citizens can open carry anywhere a concealed carry permit holder is allowed (with certain limited exceptions). Concealed and open carry is allowed anywhere in the state not specifically prohibited by law.  The law has never allowed for gun carriers to consume alcohol or drugs while carrying, although the newer regulations allow for carrying in a bar as long as nothing prohibited is consumed.

Then Mr. Kowal mentions the N.C. Regulated Firearms Carry Areas for Private Citizens document.  This document simply explains where open and concealed carriers are allowed to carry guns. Open carry is allowed by law and historically has been the accepted and expected manner of carrying firearms. Concealed carry is a relatively new phenomenon and regulated because historically the only people who concealed handguns were detectives in plain clothes and criminals who wished to hide their armed status from the public, at least until the moment they used said weapon to commit a crime.  Criminals do not open carry because they want the element of suprise and do not want the attention that open carry can bring. Also, many open carriers want to educate the public as to their right to open carry and so fewer people will be alarmed when seeing firearms in public.

Mr. Kowal then asks: “Do we want to revert to the Wild West mentality?”  Well, in the “Wild West” we never heard of mass killings by murderous lunatics because when the majority of the people are armed, someone can eliminate the crazed shooter before they can cause mass mayhem. Every mass shooting we have experienced in modern times has been targeted at “gun free zones,” such as schools, theaters, nightclubs etc., where the murderers know that there is little likelihood of being stopped by an armed citizen.  Waiting for the police to arrive, call for back up, calling a SWAT team and then cautiously moving in is a recipe for disaster: by then the body count is in the dozens or scores. Only a competent armed civilian populace can protect each other from those determined to inflict mass casualties.

I am sorry Mr. Kowal feels “intimidated” by the mere sight of a lawfully carried firearm, but that is a result of upbringing and social conditioning and not a reflection of the statistical reality. Many people are comforted by the knowledge that someone nearby is prepared to counter a threat to the public and know that open carriers have never presented a threat to law and order. Mr. Kowal adds: ” … it makes the carrier a target for someone who wants to steal their visible gun.” This simply, virtually, never happens. Criminals can get a gun far easier on the black market than by attacking someone likely to shoot them dead should their attempt fail. By definition, all uniformed police officers are “open carriers” yet we never hear of criminals sneaking up on cops and bopping them on the head to steal their guns. All responsible gun carriers practice “situational awareness” wherein they are aware of who is encroaching on their safety zone and who is likely to present a threat.  It is simply a non issue.

Then Mr. Kowal asks: “What message does this send to our children?” Tell the children the truth: In a society where guns are commonplace, both for the law abiding and the criminal element, being unarmed means that you will be unable to defend yourself or others should a madman strike. That is the sad truth. Lastly, Mr. Kowal says: “Civilians visibly carrying guns in the street and businesses make us all less safe.” How? Statistics refute that opinion completely. It may make people with a fear of guns less comfortable, but in no way less safe. Then he finished with: “It is a recipe for tragedy and heartbreak.” Since no documented account of an open carrier causing mayhem is to be found, I believe that the recipe for tragedy and heartbreak is when a mass shooter can kill scores of people, stopping to reload at will and confident that no armed civilians are present to counter the threat. Law abiding gun carriers are the only hope for survival when the worst case scenario happens. Open carriers should be appreciated for being ready, willing and able to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Richard Moore — Sylva, N.C.

Wesley’s Park needs a little attention 

Upon visiting Wesley’s Park recently, I found it in a horrible state of disrepair.

First of all the restrooms have been nasty ever since the park first opened. Toilet paper is strown about, spit wads cling to the ceiling, and the smell alone is enough to push you back outside into the fresh air. The swing set is rusty and creaks in such a way that one might think that the whole set could come crashing down. Also, the main playground equipment is dusty and dirty from years of little feet and hands playing on it. Next, the base of Wesley’s Park is made from recycled tires. This clever padding now had gaping potholes in and around high traffic areas, such as the swings and slides. Lastly, the whole park is littered with garbage people have carelessly thrown away.

As it is summer now it would be difficult to perform the necessary repairs needed to make the park safe. However, this fall when the park is less busy the repairs can be made.

Let’s work together to make the park a safe place for the children of Macon County to spend their springs and summers.

All it takes is a little time and effort to make it right.

Emma Baker, 13 — Franklin, N.C.

Sacred cows and common sense 

During Jesus’ earthly ministry he encountered a lot of opposition from the scribes and Pharisees concerning what should be done on the Sabbath. There were some very fixed ideas about it and although a man could pull his ox out of a ditch on the Sabbath, other very menial tasks were prohibited.

Jesus was teaching in the synagogue one Sabbath when he asked a simple question. He noticed a man with a withered hand. Here’s the story:

“Then said Jesus into them, I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? To save life, or to destroy it? And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, stretch forth thine hand. And he did so; and his hand was restored whole as the other. And they were filled with madness; and communed with one another what they might do to Jesus”  Luke 6:9-11 (KJV).

This was a simple question to which justice and decency supplies an obvious answer but which was met with an indefensible reaction.

Today we are not so concerned with safeguarding the Sabbath since our sacred cows are more secular. Consider our high regard for voting. It may be a right in some sense but is also a privilege that is not conferred indiscriminately on any and all. Whereas the old Sabbath rules made certain concessions to necessities of everyday life but had as its ostensible purpose of hallowing the Sabbath even if the minutiae became ridiculous, the sacred cow of voting doesn’t even get this much respect from its loudest proponents. Let’s take a look at a present day parallel.

In the course of political debate, a number of Republicans and fair-minded independents noticed that the electoral system was prone to potential abuses and wanted to safeguard the process and make it work for all Americans. Then they asked their fellow citizens: Is it better to ensure that voter fraud does not take place, so that everyone can have confidence in the legitimacy of our elections, or to deny that any wrongdoing can occur and cloak their intentions in a cloud of unaccountability? A question that should answer itself. So these concerned citizens went to their elected representatives and said, stretch forth thine hand. And they did so and a voter ID law was passed which gave people hope that the will of the people would not be frustrated by chicanery. And the Democrats and all those who want to impose their will by hook or by crook were filled with madness…

David Parker — Sylva, N.C.

Why is Mark Meadows ducking WNC women? 

Chapters of the League of Women Voters in Henderson County and Macon County recently invited the congressional candidates in the NC 11th District to participate in forums wherein they would be allowed to speak briefly, then field questions put to them by the audience.

Democratic candidate Rick Bryson accepted.

Republican candidate Mark Meadows declined.

One is inclined to wonder why Meadows would avoid an open discussion with WNC women. Is it because the questions are not vetted by his staff? Is it because they might ask about the ethics issue of paying off his chief of staff who was reported to be too personal with women members of his staff? Or could it be that they would openly wonder about his choice of words when he referred to, in a public hearing on women’s issues, a birth control pill as “….slut  pill.”?

So, Mark, what’s the story? What don’t you want to say in front of WNC women?

Suzanne Thomas — Franklin, N.C.

Plenty of blame to go around for corrupt system  

We really have devised a very strange set of formulas for choosing our leaders, have we not?  From approximately 330 million people (not all of them eligible, granted) we now have two candidates for president that the majority of Americans don’t seem to care for very much.  Even the most casual of observers must conclude the majority of American citizens will vote in November out of anger, frustration, desperation and discouragement.  There are no easy remedies to the political upheaval we have created over a long period of time nor to the resulting dilemma in which we are floundering.

I know this one’s under the heading, wishful thinking, but the two major parties could resolve many of the problems almost overnight by changing some of their restrictive rules. To both parties, I say, open your primaries to all eligible voters. Allow all voters a choice, not just the super-rich and special interests. The American people aren’t all stupid, we know the system is rigged, so unrig it, it’s not rocket science.  That alone would be an excellent starting place although a lot more has to be done.

Both parties are equally to blame for our dysfunctional political system. It is the conviction of the vast majority of adult Americans that we are not even remotely being represented by any of the three branches of our government.  More than half the voters in America have already stated that they are not going to the polls in November to vote “for” but rather vote “against” the other candidate or party.  This country is going to wake up on Nov. 9 believing the president-elect is the most corrupt politician on the planet, or its biggest buffoon. Shame on you both for causing this predicament.

Yes, we (the citizens of the United States) have responsibility for this mess as well.  When 80 or 85 or even 90 percent of registered voters fail to show up to vote, what incentive does an honest and qualified man or woman have to want to run for any public office?  Apathy and ignorance are long-standing problems in America and to those I will add a third. Greed now influences almost every facet of American life, it permeates our institutions, it controls our leaders in all branches of government, and it’s literally destroying our way of life.

Lastly, we need to make ourselves knowledgable and aware of what’s going on in the world around us and act on that knowledge. Consider this … according to Vox.com, when shown an image, 98 percent of the people polled were able to identify the yellow Pokemon character “Pikachu” but only 61 percent recognized the vice president of The United States.  That is ridiculous.

Our leaders are not doing what they should be doing.  Fueling voters’ disgust, distrust and fear might make for a real successful campaign scheme but it sure isn’t helping this country fulfill any worthwhile goals.  And it surely won’t help our children and their posterity to realize the American dream and that should concern each and every one of us.

David L. Snell   — Franklin, N.C.

Wilderness lost in USFS evaluation of lands 

I was very disappointed to read the article on the U.S. Forest Service Evaluation of lands being considered for wilderness designation, for how the USFS published it, for what it omits, and for the public reaction to it. The published evaluation goes beyond the usual procedure at this step of analyzing all areas under study for their wilderness characteristics on many criteria. At this point factors supporting and negating the existence of those characteristics are presented without cutting any of the study areas from further consideration. It is in the next step, the analysis, in which specific areas are identified to be recommended as wilderness. The Forest Service website states that “… the initial identification of areas to be analyzed (the present evaluation)… is draft and expected to change based on further input …” with more definite recommendations in the Spring 2017. The Forest Service was premature in selecting areas to be continued or excluded and to present it in a manner that leads the public to think that these selections are final. Advocates for wilderness would be justified in thinking that the process has reached its end and that, once again, wilderness lost.

In Macon County, wilderness comprises only 4 percent of National Forest lands. Areas no longer being considered include Fishhawk Mountain, Siler Bald, Tellico Bald, and Wesser Bald among others. Anyone who has been fortunate to experience these places knows that they embody the best that nature has to offer us right in our backyard. Wilderness advocates understand that some parts of these areas are not suitable for wilderness designation and supported excluding them from consideration. In 15 to 20 years when the Forest Plan undergoes review again, what will be left of these mountain treasures as development and extraneous or damaging uses continue unchecked?

The idea that wildlife is incompatible with wilderness is preposterous. All kinds of wildlife thrive in their natural environments; the reduction of certain species, for example, grouse, has come about after men started tampering with the forests. As for timber harvesting, many of the wilderness study areas are too steep for logging. If they weren’t, they probably would have been logged already. Gated USFS roads are more likely caused by USFS lack of funds to take care of them than by the present 4 percent of wilderness.

The Olympics are set to start soon. Most of us will not only never be Olympic athletes, we will also never be triathletes, speed walkers or have the physical and mental characteristics to engage in pursuits that only some can. I will never be a hunter because of poor depth vision but I don’t begrudge hunters their right to hunt. In the same manner, people who cherish the magnificence of nature in the raw have the right to walk in places untrammeled by man. As wilderness is reduced and made more inaccessible and remote, fewer of us elderly and handicapped (I fit both categories) will be able to enjoy, heal and rejuvenate in the crown jewels of nature.

 

Olga Pader — Franklin, N.C.

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