Show carnage to force change
For years now, I have delayed in writing this letter. I had good intentions after each school shooting, hoping something would be done, only to hear crickets.
Sure, prayers are offered up. People are outraged and horrified. Elected officials pontificate while gun owners scream about the Second Amendment and loss of freedoms.
This would all come to a screeching halt in 30 days if we truly cared about ending this crisis. Just publicly show the absolutely sickening photos of assault rifle victims.
America hastened the end of the Vietnam War after seeing combat on the evening news. Our first responders, E.R. doctors and paramedics witness these gruesome sights daily. Just maybe, if the public saw this for a few nights, we would force meaningful changes.
As an Army adviser in Vietnam, I saw too many victims of assault rifles. One is not truly horrified until such sights are witnessed. I am sure my proposal will cause a public outcry.
So be it. Are we not at war already?
Assault gun buy-back a reasonable solution
The news from Uvalde is a grim reminder of the suffering that can be caused by one person wielding a weapon designed to inflict as much damage as possible. The statements from Texas police demonstrated they feared confronting the gunman because of the danger to their own lives. We cannot accept doing nothing as a response. And we do not need to wait for a perfect response. We can and should do something now that has no partisanship attached and makes an effort to reduce the prevalence of assault weapons in our communities, the only common factor among mass shootings in the United States.
Rep. Fleischmann and Sens. Blackburn and Hagerty should take the lead on an initiative for a voluntary buy-back of assault-style weapons. Congress should appropriate $40 billion to conduct the buy-back, cover administrative expenses to local police departments administering the program and provide a percentage of the buy-back to those departments. There are no Second Amendment concerns as this would be voluntary, plus it provides additional safety and resources for law enforcement. Again, doing nothing, or only looking at second order solutions, is against common sense.
Dems' suggestions make no real sense
Since the Texas mass murder that claimed 19 children and two teachers, the Democrats have been going crazy wanting more gun control to outlaw assault weapons of war — the AR-15. The AR-15 is not an assault weapon. It has no fully automatic capability, and no nation issues the AR-15 to its armed forces. Some are also advocating repeal of the Second Amendment and some advocate banning the NRA. Bear in mind, after decades of the war on drugs, the government can't keep drugs off the streets, out of schools, nor out of prisons. Yet, they want to disarm me and trust that they can keep guns from criminals.
Of course, none of these Democrats has done any research about murder statistics. From the FBI 2015-2019 database of murders, you are five times more likely to be murdered by knives, about twice as likely to be murdered by clubs and hammers, and more than twice as likely to be murdered by hands, fists and feet than an AR-15. It makes more sense for Democrats to outlaw knives and hammers. But they won't see the irony of this suggestion.
Who will stop it? We're talking to you
Who is going to stop the shootings?
I'm talking to you, Sen. Blackburn, Sen. Hagerty and Rep. Fleischmann. If you say, as many, "It's not guns; it is a mental health problem," why aren't you funding mental health facilities?
To you, Tennessee legislators. Do you think a resource officer with a gun or school door lock are going to stop the madness? How would someone with a handgun protect people from someone using an assault rifle?
To you, brave military veterans. You know what a gun outfitted like an assault rifle can do. It can instantly kill a soldier; what do you think it would do to second- or third-graders or senior citizens?
To you, families with school-age children. I lived in another state where a suburban community felt safe until someone entered the middle school and shot at children (injuring two). Only then did the parents decide it was time to get involved. Learn how (or if) your school's principals and your county commissioners are making schools safe.
And to you, voters. Before you vote, find out what the person running for office will do to stop our citizens from killing each other.
Recovery courts make family reconnections
A group of clients was recently surveyed about the best change in their life since they began recovery court, and the response was unanimous: reconnection with family and children. These reconnections illustrate why Tennessee treatment and recovery courts are so important. A courtroom is not where one expects to find celebrations and tears of joy, but it happens all the time in Hamilton County's recovery court.
In May, the 82 recovery courts throughout Tennessee celebrated National Drug Court Month. This year more than 150,000 individuals nationwide will receive life-saving treatment and the chance to repair their lives. National Drug Court Month is a celebration of the lives restored by treatment courts. In Hamilton County's court, clients are able to work for the first time in years and save for a home or a car. Parents are reunited with children, and children have their parents present during holidays instead of visiting them in jail. For 2022, the Hamilton County Recovery Court is expanding its outreach to more citizens who struggle with substance use disorder, offering evidence-based treatments and developing new community partnerships to connect clients with area services.
Hamilton County Recovery Court clinician
Unity under one banner is necessary
This year my family and I stayed in town for Memorial Day weekend, and it included running the Chattanooga Chase. Such a wonderful race. Because I served our country in the military, all the patriotic holidays mean something to me.
While the festivities and time with family were nice, I was saddened by many at the race. Typical of most races, the national anthem was sung before the start. I could not believe how many people were so openly unconcerned with that moment. While standing there with my hand over my heart, a child next to me asked her mother, "Mommy, what song is this?"
Veterans understand the value in honoring the past because they made a genuine sacrifice, and many lost their lives in effort to maintain the greatest political philosophy attempted by civil societies, our constitutional republic. What have you sacrificed? Think about that question the next time you don't stand for the national anthem, assert the notion of a "systemic" national evil or impute an original sin into America's history.
Trendy identity politics can never overcome actual injustice. Only unity under one national banner can do that.
James W. Smith