Protect, prosecute and punish
There have been lots of emotional discussions and letters to the editor in the wake of the recent mass murders. People blame assault rifles, large magazines, Hollywood movies, video games, the National Rifle Association, the mentally incompetent, the lack of security and any number of scapegoats.
These mass murders did not happen 50 years ago. What was different? Well, back then cops protected and served. Prosecutors prosecuted. The criminal justice system punished and executed when the situation called for it.
Today? Let’s take a look. How many Connecticut cops were running radar as those kids were being slaughtered? The Fort Hood, Aurora, Colo., and other shooters have yet to go to trial. And more and more of the few violent criminals we actually do manage to incarcerate are being released to set fires and murder firemen.
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Would it be too much to ask for cops to park their cars in school lots and walk the halls for a few minutes, or to swing by a mall and stroll through occasionally? Would it be too much to ask prosecutors to try offenders instead of cutting deals that have criminals back on the street much too soon? Could we execute the savages who kill their grandmothers with a hammer? I guess not.
There are sane alternatives to spending billions to fully arm all our schools in hopes of preventing shootings.
After a gunman killed 35 people and wounded another 23 in Tasmania in April 1996, Australians said, “That’s too many.” Just 12 days after the massacre, conservative Prime Minister John Howard announced that he and lawmakers had reached an agreement to sensibly reduce deaths from firearms. The agreement included buying back more than 600,000 semi-automatic assault weapons, prohibiting private gun sales, requiring a “genuine reason” for needing a gun at time of purchase, and requiring all weapons to be registered at time of sale to an individual.
The results: Homicide deaths dropped 59 percent from 1995 to 2006. Suicide by gun dropped 65 percent during that time. Robberies involving firearms dropped significantly while home invasions did not increase. In the 10 years before 1996, Australia had 11 mass shootings. Since then, none.
When will it be “too many” for us? Now is the time to find the courage and conviction needed to follow Australia’s example. We can do much better than we have done.
Don’t dilute justices
I read with interest the commentary by Lawton Nuss, the chief justice of the Kansas Supreme Court (“Competition key to picking jurists,” Dec. 16 Opinion). His very dedicated effort to gain an appointment as an appellate judge demonstrated much persistence in achieving his goal. He is to be commended for his diligence and administrative ability.
I am aware that Gov. Sam Brownback is dissecting various government agencies by privatizing some and is seeking to change the method and manner in which we select our appellate judges by requiring that they be interviewed and approved by the Kansas Senate, similar to what is done on a national level. Brownback seems to be attempting to make the state some kind of showplace to support his future plans to run for president. In my opinion, Brownback is very dangerous, and the damage he is doing to Kansas is regrettable.
I join Nuss is opposing the governor’s attempt to dilute the quality of justices. I have practiced law for 59 years, and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the members of our bar and the justices in our court system.
THOMAS C. BOONE
The turkey that allegedly was tortured and eventually killed by members of a University of Kansas fraternity was placed on this earth by the same creator who gave life to the perpetrators (Dec. 29 Local & State).
Lawrence police reportedly are investigating whether animal-abuse laws were violated. If chasing an animal, throwing it around like a football, choking it, breaking its wing and leg, and torturing it until death does not constitute abuse, “animal-abuse laws” are without meaning.
Though this conduct is unconscionable, it takes second place to the indefensible conduct of Jim Lichtenberg, associate dean for graduate programs at the KU School of Education, who inadvertently sent an e-mail response that made fun of the abuse incident. When called by a reporter regarding his inappropriate e-mail, he said, “I really don’t feel like I can talk about that right now,” and he hung up the phone. But he admitted that he tried to retrieve the e-mail. Had he been able to do so, he likely would still be gloating within.
It is unfortunate we have the likes of Lichtenberg instructing our younger generation.
MENDELL (MITCH) BUTLER