Bravo, Paul Heintz, for your Fair Game column ["The Gun," June 15]! You present Exhibit A for why we need to check the background of any gun buyer and seriously reconsider a ban on assault rifles. Moreover, your article should be required reading for every Vermont lawmaker, both federal and state.
That Heintz could buy an AR-15 — as he did — 36 hours after the mass shooting in Orlando, in less than 10 minutes and without any check at all, should get our attention. I know, it's legal in Vermont, but it shouldn't be. Seven of the last eight public mass shootings in America were with this type of firearm. Furthermore, one in five police officers slain in the line of duty are killed with one of these weapons of war.
Face up to the facts — deadly facts. It's too easy for the wrong people to obtain guns without checking every sale, and assault rifles have no place in a civilized society.
Two Fewer Guns?
Paul Heintz has done a great service to Vermont and the nation with [Fair Game: "The Gun," June 15]. He casts a light on the lack of courage of our leaders in facing the issue of guns getting into the wrong hands.
A few decades ago, I went to the Barre gun show. As a hunter, I wanted to see what the scene was like. What I hadn't expected to see were men in suits and ties and shiny black dress shoes buying guns.
A few years ago, a friend gave me two guns he no longer used. I agreed that if I didn't have a use for them and sold them that I'd forward the proceeds to him. I got to thinking: If I sell these guns, there is a chance that they will fall into the wrong hands and end up being used to kill someone. I don't have a use for those guns, and they won't be sold until the gun laws change to keep them out of the wrong hands to prevent any intentional or accidental killing.
My other thought is that I ought to melt them down and recycle the metal, making the number of guns in the U.S. 300 million — minus two.
Thanks to Heintz for his courageous investigative reporting.
Individual v. Group Rights
I am glad Fatuma Bulle is "Finding Her Voice" [June 15]. Hate-crime laws amount to a self-inflicted wound! Does the Constitution give rights and protections to groups or to individuals? Hate-crime laws say groups are given rights ahead of individuals. Fostering an anti-individual atmosphere is what hate-crime laws do. If you don't want people to be singled out for assaults, then don't single them out for protection.
Thank you, Fatuma Bulle, for your contributions to Vermont, and to Seven Days for highlighting these contributions in ["Finding Her Voice," June 15]. May we all aspire to be such excellent neighbors, community members and teachers! In reading this article, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision for the "Beloved Community" comes to mind. I gladly accept the nudge to do more to create it here in Vermont, our shared home.
So Many Scapegoats
My heart goes out to Fatuma Bulle, her family, and all victims of hate, racism, bigotry and xenophobia ["Finding Her Voice," June 15]. It is the dark side of humanity, to be sure, but as sure as Muslims are being targeted now by those who hate, this is certainly not new human behavior. My family suffered pogroms in Russia and was chased out of the country. Then the Nazis killed most of my relatives, along with millions of others. In this country, blacks were lynched while the police watched.
There are still many places in this country where a woman in a head scarf, a Hasid in his black coat and yarmulke, or simply being black or brown or from Korea makes an individual a target of hate. But this is a free country, where our lawmakers refuse to create reasonable gun laws and people are free to shoot up a school or a church or a movie theater or wear a gun into a bar. Many now want to kick the Mexicans, Muslims — name your group — out of our country.
Who's next? Jews again? Irish? Chinese? When will we ever learn? As John Lennon said, "The love you take is equal to the love you make."
Daughter Knows Best
[Re "Dear Old Dad," June 15]: As someone with a father who had another child much later in life, I find it really annoying to hear men (my father included) talk about having a chance to be a better father the second time around. Just because your first children might be grown doesn't mean you can't improve your relationship with them. In fact, once a man has that second family, chances are he will be a worse father to the grown children, since his time will be taken up with the new family. So here's some advice for old dads: Don't focus on being a better dad for the new child; focus on being a great dad for all your children.
[Re "Up Against the Mall," May 25]: While Kevin J. Kelley calls Don Sinex's request a zoning "variance," the city doesn't use that term. A variance would likely not be granted in this case. And while illegal "spot zoning" involves a zoning change for one project/developer, the city says this is not spot zoning but an "overlay district."
Zoning regulations are crafted with careful consideration over time with public input. The essential question is this: Do we want a precedent-setting change to occur under the gun for one eager developer? Is this the city's way to fast-track a change that will mean more 14-story buildings in this small area? Should we ask Sinex to work with current zoning regulations? Zoning changes should be considered separately, with more time and care due to future implications.
Participants in planBTV were certainly not imagining 14-story buildings. They asked for "human scale," voted favorably toward the current scale of downtown buildings and expressed the value in lake/mountain views. The largest building shown is only eight stories. Now it seems the public process is being disregarded with the proposal of a height three times above the maximum 65 feet downtown.
Yes, a solution is needed for the aging mall building. How about something visionary — all affordable and below-market-rate housing for working people and seniors within current zoning perimeters? Keep the shopping focus on Church Street and skip the dormitory. A human-scale building with a human focus.
[Re Off Message: "At His Burlington Home, Sanders and Supporters Plot Next Steps," June 12]: Donald Trump haters, I know you're hurting right now. But, please, maintain civility. I was trying to enjoy breakfast at Penny Cluse Café two weeks ago with my lovely girlfriend, who happens to be of Asian descent. We were quietly discussing Mr. Trump. An eavesdropping customer seated nearby interrupted us and said emphatically, "If Trump has his way, she won't be allowed to be here!" — and pointed at my girlfriend, who is an American citizen! After picking up our jaws from the floor, we resumed eating and later got a laugh out of it. But let me say this publicly: If you're going to be a relentlessly ignorant boob, then try to do it with a touch of politeness.