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COLUMN: Guns, school safety and strong emotions

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By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

We’re always happy when editorials on this page generate letters to the editor, even when it’s a mistake of ours that gets people putting pen to paper.

Last week’s editorial advocating tighter restrictions on assault-style firearms generated quite the buzz. That’s good. Our editorial contained an error in saying school shootings were carried out with automatic weapons. Instead, they were done with semiautomatic weapons. There is a difference.

While I didn’t write the editorial, I and others missed the error in the editorial.

That mistake aside, there is a legitimate debate that is taking place about whether the sale of some styles of weapons should be restricted.

As someone who owns and uses firearms for sport and occasional hunting, I’m not in favor of the government telling me what I should and should not own. Hold me responsible for my actions, not my choices of firearms. That said, there are reasons machine guns and truly automatic weapons are banned. They have no useful, peaceful purpose.

I personally have no problem with restrictions on the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips, although I doubt that would have prevented most mass shootings. My recollection of shootings over the past several years included reports that assailants carried multiple standard-sized clips into schools or businesses and began firing.

I also accept mandatory background checks for gun purchases and bans on felons and those with serious mental-health issues purchasing or possessing firearms. I’m OK with waiting periods, too.

Americans will always disagree over what is constitutional or not, whether the issue is gun control, health-care reform or marriage. That’s our system.

Like some letter writers have pointed out, the debates over these issues should be based on the facts and with respect to all sides. That’s often difficult with emotional issues. Some people angry with our editorial have had a hard time even talking civilly about it. One said he was going to stop looking at the paper altogether and another just labeled me a gun hater.

That’s hardly the case.

If you believe in something strongly, be able to talk about the issue. Thankfully the writers of letters to the editor and most of the others who have called or stopped by the office have done that.

School Safety

I’m proud of Perry County’s three school systems for having in place plans for dealing with emergencies. They work well with local police in planning for responses to all sorts of situations.

I attended a meeting at William Tell Elementary School just a few days after the shooting in Newtown, Conn. School officials and police officers reviewed their policies and procedures.

It’s good to see local police officers visiting schools on the unannounced walkthroughs. City police in Tell City and Cannelton have long done that and as reported in Thursday’s News, sheriff’s deputies and state police troopers are doing the same at Perry Central.

For obvious reasons, we don’t publish details of the plan, but we and the public know they exist. It’s impossible for either school or police department to plan for every scenario.

Perry Central is working on plans to renovate entrances to the elementary and high schools, showing school leaders are working to improve safety while keeping our county’s schools welcoming.

Scams

The paper’s staff received calls every week from readers concerned about likely scams. The past week saw reports of callers claiming to be from Publisher’s Clearing House and offering alleged cash prizes. However, the people being called were asked to purchase money orders to supposedly cover taxes or fees. The people I talked to over the past few weeks were smart in that they gave no personal information and hung up the phone.

As a reminder, never give out Social Security numbers, bank information or other identifiers to anyone you aren’t totally sure is who they say they are. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t call and ask for money.

Also, never cash a check from someone you don’t know or send money orders or wire transfers to someone without triple checking the legitimacy of the person. As we’ve reported, elderly people have often received scam calls asking them to bail out grandchildren supposedly in jail.

Scams differ week by week, but their goal is the same: to part you from your money. Don’t be a victim.