Massena man applauds civility of local gun violence debate; joins conversation
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 1:02 pm

To the Editor:

While outrage has been felt worldwide by the Sandy Hook tragedy, I have been impressed with the level of civility and articulation several local North Country residents on different sides of the argument have expressed in their recent opinions on this tragedy, gun violence in America, and Second Amendment Rights.

I applaud Mr. Chase of Canton, Mr. Demers of Ogdensburg and Mr. Petry of Canton for their contribution. I suspect not all submissions to the Editor following the Sandy Hook tragedy were as civil in tone or content.

The problem is, in my view, that both our elected representatives, and, let’s address the 800 pound gorilla, the N.R.A., have historically not approached the issue of gun violence in America in either a civil, rounded, or articulate manner. Battle lines get drawn. Vitriolic rhetoric gets espoused, and our representatives on the national level become so frightened of falling out of favor with the N.R.A., and with good reason.

The N.R.A. has historically spent a lot of time, effort, and membership money, targeting and launching full-front attacks on any politician their leadership perceives, correctly or incorrectly, as holding positions on gun ownership contrary to theirs or their mission...often quietly for no other main reason other than to stimulate donation drives.

If one is concerned about the level of discourse and conversation on gun violence in America, and about maintaining their Second Amendment Rights, start by contacting your local representatives and the leadership of the N.R.A. (especially if you are a member) and demand a comprehensive, non rhetorical and non fear-based constructive conversation on the issues at hand from the parties involved.

That being said, to my mind, there needs to be a comprehensive approach to gun violence in America, and not just one potentially involving a ban on certain types of weapons or access to them. With Mr. Demers, and Mr. Petry, I am in agreement with on this. Mental illness…Drug Abuse…these are as much, if not more, a factor then any one person’s access or lack of access to weapons.

I am reminded of just this past year when my little girl’s elementary school was placed under lockdown as a result of a disturbed and distraught young man with a gun, ultimately tragically taking his own life, and a second instance of a gentleman not too far apart from this instance, taking his life with a firearm in the lobby of Massena Memorial…both of these tragic cases commendably spurring Police Chief Currier to launch a suicide and drug prevention partnership for our community.

A balanced approach is needed. We could have easily been the next Sandy Hook and until there is some real courage shown at the national political level, we sadly still may be.

Where I disagree with one of the aforementioned posters, is that somehow endeavoring to seriously address the gun violence epidemic, and that is what it is, is in any way a “knee-jerk reaction.” I can think of more than 26 reasons why this is not the case, and why we are way past due.

Leland Farnsworth, Massena