Respect the Beaches
April 15, 2013
To the Editor,
The summer season is fast approaching and as the weather begins to warm, so does debate concerning the continuation of various time-held rights and traditions on the East End. Citizens for Access Rights is a grassroots, nonpolitical organization whose genesis was in response to the public access to our shorelines being threatened. CfAR’s mission statement is to help defend the access rights of all user groups and to help educate and promote legal, safe, and responsible use of the beaches.
CfAR has been asked to elaborate its stance about the current deliberation about dogs and dog owners’ usage of the beach. There have been recommendations made, the most severe being an outright ban of this user group during the summer season. It is CfAR’s opinion that there should be no changes to the current policies regarding dogs and dog owners’ access to the beaches. We feel that the majority of the dog-owner user group are responsible and respectful beach users who will work to help rectify any issues within the current laws. As it is with most issues, CfAR believes that a few irresponsible users are ruining it for the majority. We feel the existing legislation is adequate and that the current issues have been exacerbated by lack of enforcement.
CfAR recognizes that both the law and code enforcement departments are overwhelmed during the summer season and that some out-of-the-box thinking may be required to address additional enforcement, such as allowing lifeguards to ticket for infractions or for increased traffic control officer enforcement in problem areas. Banning an activity that many (especially year-round residents) treasure and hold sacred is not the answer.
CfAR wishes everyone a safe, happy, fun summer, and we strongly urge all user groups to respect the beaches and one another this summer.
Citizens for Access Rights
April 9, 2013
To the Editor,
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., at the Emergency Services Building, the East Hampton Village Board will hold a public hearing to discuss a new law for dogs on the village beaches during the summer months, beginning the second Sunday in May to Sept. 30.
The new amendment to the law is that dog owners would be required to keep their dogs on a leash when they enter the village beaches, for a distance of 500 feet in either direction of the paved road entrance to the beach. After this distance, dogs will be allowed to run free but remain in control.
Of course all other rules, such as picking up and disposing of dog waste, remain in effect and the village will continue to supply bags for dog waste at each of the village beach entrances.
My opinion is that a leash law at the entrance to the beaches is a reasonable request from village officials, especially when one considers the alternatives, such as a total ban on dogs on the village beaches or a designation of one of the five beaches as a dog beach, which limits one’s freedom as to which beach one wants to go to. Also, most dogs seem to relieve themselves when they first arrive at the beach, so a dog owner is more likely to pick up waste if their animal is on a leash.
However, I feel that 500 feet is way too long a distance and that the village should consider 250 feet in either direction, for a total of 500 feet. The code of East Hampton Town, not the village, has a 300-foot restriction from paved road for the bay beaches and a 500-foot restriction of such road end for Atlantic beaches, but they allow dogs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., one hour more of freedom walking one’s dog. And, their summer-month restriction begins May 15 to Sept. 15, essentially three weeks more time than the village allows.
Horses are allowed on the town beaches at a distance of 300 feet, not 500 feet, so why would the village make dogs wait 500 feet in either direction to run free?
The issue of limiting dogs’ privileges on the village beaches comes up with increasing regularity despite the efforts of all dog owners, mostly local residents, being more diligent with control and picking up waste, and fewer complaints and the active involvement of a community-based group, beachdogs11937. I propose some sort of moratorium on further restrictions for dogs.
The effects of increasing tourism in our community should not impede this important privilege of taking one’s dog to the beach and a few offenders ruining this for all of us who are diligent and responsible. Maintaining beach safety is a high priority for our officials and protecting the beaches for all to enjoy in their own ways. But at the same time, increased enforcement should be considered for dogs and all other beach activities, such as vehicle driving, protecting wildlife, swimming, etc. The beaches are a main attraction, and dogs should not be singled out time and time again. Dogs are important family members, now more than ever. Just ask any veterinarian about pets’ important role in people’s quality of life, or hospitals and nursing homes using dogs as therapy. Or look at recent obituaries: “Mr. G died peacefully with his loving wife Anne and his beloved dog Lily by his side‚” or‚ “caring nieces, nephews and cousins and his beloved Labrador Skye also survive him.”
Finally, the proposed new leash law suggests that it is being proposed to protect beach picnickers — and there is no mention of vehicles driving, disrupting picnickers, just dogs being interference for picnickers! I suggest more garbage receptacles for these picnickers, as too often, when I am at the beach early in the morning during the summer with my dog, the garbage bins are overflowing with rubbish and fires are not always contained within metal containers. Hot coals, broken bits of glass, sharp, discarded lobster shells, used diapers, and other unmentionable rubber items present more safety issues, I believe, than dogs happily roaming about with their owners.
Please mark your calendars and come to this important public hearing tomorrow to voice your opinions and help protect this important privilege of taking one’s dog to the village beaches.
Canine Car Alarms
April 15, 2013
What with all the fuss lately about dogs on the beach, I’d like to take a moment to weigh in on the topic of dogs not on the beach. I’m talking about the dogs left behind while their owners go to the beach (or to the Farmers Market, or Citarella, or Cyril’s, or any of those trendy places).
Many people in our other-than-us fancy Amagansett neighborhood rent their homes during the summer for amazing sums of money to people who bring large, bounding dogs with them (do they rent these, too?). The bounding wouldn’t be so bad, but most weekends the barking drives us mad. Early in the morning most of these renters leave for coffee and The Times, and the barking begins. They return, the barking stops. They go to lunch; barking resumes. Then, the people leave again — for very looong bark-filled afternoons at the beach. Evenings? Benefits! Bark bark bark . . . pause for breath . . . bark bark bark! It’s like being surrounded by canine car alarms.
Please, people! If you take your dogs out, obey the rules of the town. If you don’t take your dogs along, obey the rules of good neighborship: Keep your dogs inside, contented — and quiet.
ALICE HENRY WHITMORE
Not to be Missed
April 15, 2013
I had to write and let people know that they should rush to Guild Hall next weekend to see Peter Pan for a memorable performance. Yesterday afternoon there was a packed house and the audience was totally caught up in the show. Peter and company actually FLEW, to the delight of all.
We clapped for Tinkerbell, crowed with Peter and Michael (Colin Freedman), hissed and booed each time Captain Hook appeared (Josh Gladstone relished the role, clearly, and there will never be a better Hook in my book!) I laughed at every move Smee (Michael Horn) made. I remember taking my son to see Sandy Duncan as Peter on Broadway over 30 years ago; Jayne Freedman is as good as Peter. Her laugh made me remember the movie and Mary Martin.
The company spanned ages and everyone appeared to be having a blast. A special treat for me was watching students, former students, and even parents of former students on stage. The cast’s joy is contagious. The sets and live musical score are professional. I am heading back next weekend for a repeat and bringing friends along.
This is a good way to cast off winter and truly welcome spring. The show spreads joy and it’s a gem, not to be missed. I thank all the folks involved for their time and hard work.
Sylvester Manor Exhibit
April 11, 2013
Congratulations to Jennifer Anderson, Lisa Harrell-Edge, and their colleagues on the occasion of the splendid exhibition about Sylvester Manor now on display in the Bobst Library of New York University.
It is intelligent, exhaustively researched, crammed with information not only about the history of Sylvester Manor and Shelter Island, but about the larger context of European settlement in New York before and after the American Revolution. The authors have insightfully and sensitively woven into the narrative of an important Shelter Island property larger issues of slavery, exploitation of native peoples, local and national politics, scientific investigation of agricultural and horticultural phenomena, and the contribution of New England literary and philosophical leaders to a maturing American culture.
I urge everyone living on the East End to visit the library on Washington Square for an exciting and enlightening intellectual experience.
In Search of a Cure
April 9, 2013
To the Editor:
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision. The progress, severity, and specific symptoms of MS are unpredictable and vary from one person to another. Three years ago, my boyfriend, Scott Donaway, was diagnosed with this disease.
Today, new treatments and advances in research are giving new hope to people affected. So despite this devastating news, Scott has chosen to embrace his illness as he mindfully works toward healing and recovery. With endless support from family and friends, Scott has joined forces with people across the United States in search of a cure for MS, raising funds through community walks and bike rides.
Scott started Team Donaway and Friends in 2010 with no expectations other than raising a little money for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and bringing out friends and family for a great cause. Who would ever guess that after the first three years Team Donaway and Friends would raise over $12,000! His team was the top fund-raising team in 2010 and 2011 at the Historic Downtown Dover Walk in Delaware.
As the MS Foundation prepares to make its annual award to those institutions researching a cure for MS, I am reaching out to you, my hometown, in the spirit of giving that always has characterized East Hampton. To make a donation to this wonderful cause, please go online today to delawarewalk.org, click on Walk Locations, click the Learn More tab at the Dover location, click Join a Team, and then click Search for a Team. Team Donaway and Friends is dedicated to raising awareness to discover a cure for this debilitating disease. We appreciate your support.
Many thanks in advance,
Rain tickles the shore.
Cool surf splashes at my feet.
I dream of summer.
Along this vast beach,
a dog leaps with boundless joy.
One perfect moment.
An 89-Unit Mini-Village
April 14, 2013
Editor of The Star:
When any company, telephone marketer, or TV commercial tells us that we “need” their product, service, or advice, the normal reaction is to react with caution, realizing that the message has been carefully crafted by experts hired by a profit-seeking source. So how did our building inspector, with no apparent objection from any town official, agree that East Hampton “needed” the Dunes, a for-profit ($11,000 a month per patient), upscale, executive addiction treatment center located in the middle of a large residential area (Northwest Woods)? Why there? Because the patients are really a “family.”
I know this unfortunate decision is under serious reconsideration by the zoning board of appeals, but it came to mind when last week we were told that East Hampton “needs” 555, an 89-unit mini-village on Montauk Highway on the eastern edge of Amagansett, to address the “needs” of our rich ($850,000 to $1.8 million per unit), active, vibrant senior citizens.
I have lived in East Hampton since the late ’50s, the last 40 years on Bluff Road in Amagansett, and to say that this cluster of houses is “reminiscent of the Amagansett lanes” is ludicrous. For that matter, the scene shown by the developer does not look like any part of the East End, much less Amagansett.
Ironically, just across the highway from the planned site of 555 is a housing development that truly was “needed” — the St. Michael’s low-income group of lookalike prefabricated houses that never claimed to be Hampton-like. The town should feel proud to have stepped up to the task of beginning to help our less fortunate neighbors.
I know this is just the beginning of a long, complicated process, but the campaign has started with a bang — sketches of the proposed plan, interviews, etc. I am writing this letter to ask the officials involved to go slow, study the broad impact, not just the economics, of the proposal, and address the long-term needs of the town.
Hill Before the Stretch
April 11, 2013
Recently, low-cost housing for older folk was built across from the Amagansett I.G.A., and when the crosswalk across 27 was added there, the speed limit on 27 had to be legally reduced from 45 miles per hour to 35 m.p.h., which makes sense. Most people traveling eastbound on 27 seem to respect the lower speed limit, until they get to Old Montauk Highway, and then old speeding habits return. Many vehicles‚ mainly service trucks‚ headed toward Montauk use the stretch on 27 east between Old Montauk Highway and the downward hill just past Bluff Road like a ski jump, an acceleration point to hit the Napeague stretch at maybe 60 m.p.h.
But the speed limit in that area is now 35 m.p.h., at least eastbound. (For some reason, the westbound speed limit between Devon Road and Bunker Hill Road is 45 m.p.h., but 35 m.p.h. eastbound.)
I have lived on the Napeague stretch in Amagansett for almost seven years, full-time. I have a 5-year-old son, whom I drive to school daily in Wainscott. Recently with spring having arrived so has the traffic, with all the busy service trucks trying to get all their big jobs done, which I totally respect and am grateful for. We all enjoy the economic boost that comes with spring and summer.
However, what I’m not grateful for is the fact that the service trucks (and it only seems to be the service trucks) don’t respect the new speed limit on 27 east where I describe above, and several times a day these service trucks ride my bumper to try to get me to go faster. Literally maybe a foot off my rear bumper. And it’s terrifying, especially with my kid in the car.
But I stick to the speed limit because I don’t want a ticket, and because, well, I simply respect what’s posted.
Maybe there’s confusion about the speed limit because it’s different depending on whether one is headed east or west. But we all learned how to read traffic signs in driving school when we were 16, so that’s really no excuse. The eastbound 35 m.p.h. speed limit starts at Abram’s Landing Road and doesn’t increase to 45 m.p.h. until Devon Road.
Because I am that worried about my safety and that of my kid, I have written to the New York State Department of Transportation to add extra speed limit signage, and have called the East Hampton Town Police Department to tell them about the situation and to maybe post that big electric speed limit sign as well.
But in the meantime I will not go faster, and anyone who rides my bumper could very likely cause the first lethal crash of the season, and then we can’t blame the summer people.
I ask the guys driving the service trucks (and I know they are guys because they are driving that close to me), what if it were your wife and kid in the car, would you like some jerk riding their bumper? Would you like to be a widower and have to bury your kids, just so some other guy can get somebody’s gutters cleaned out in Montauk? So why do you do it to me?
Anyone headed to Montauk, please think about your family as you head down that hill before the Napeague stretch. If there’s someone who seems to be driving slowly in front of you, back off and enjoy the scenery. Because it’s nicer than the scenery in Southampton Hospital, or the inside of a coffin, especially one shared with someone else’s gorgeous 5-year-old son whom you slaughtered.
A Young Institution
April 11, 2013
To the Editor:
As a young alumna of the Ross School, the recent run of articles regarding changes there‚ focusing most centrally, of course, on Mrs. Ross’s personal decision to spend the next several years traveling the world by private yacht‚ published by this and by other local publications, has had me reflecting a lot on my time as a student on Goodfriend Drive.
I arrived at Ross more by chance than anything. In the fall of 2009, my family had to relocate rather quickly and unexpectedly from Los Angeles to Shelter Island. While I felt lucky to be awarded a place at Ross — at the very east, I’d heard that the food was outstanding — I will admit that I had my hesitations. The stereotypes I associated with Ross when I first set foot on campus will probably be familiar to anyone reading, because they are stereotypes that pervade throughout the East End community‚ notions that Ross is a racket, that its curriculum carries very little practical value, that capital and aesthetic trump education in its hallways.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. At Ross, I met students and teachers who were passionate about learning for its own sake and for the sake of doing good in the world, community members who eagerly welcomed me with a genuine curiosity about my life and consideration for my experience and the experiences of others. I learned about the importance of fostering cross-continental relationships in an increasingly globalized world, but also found the courage and opportunity to tap into the thriving intellectual and artistic networks that exist all over the East End, on Goodfriend Drive and beyond. My desktop computer proudly sports a variety of East End-themed bumper stickers — a silhouette map of Shelter Island, a Channing Daughters Winery label peeled off a bottle, and a sticker bearing the school’s spiral logo and its motto‚ Know Thyself in Order to Serve‚ a tenet that has served me very well at Pomona College and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.
Like many progressive institutions, Ross is associated with a number of brilliant characters who often embark on unconventional personal and professional projects. When those visionaries are prominent members of small communities like ours, it can be tempting to report on these goings-on in a sensationalistic style, but this helps no cause, not the least that of journalistic integrity. Ross is a young institution, and while at times it may appear to be in flux, as someone who has made it a point to keep abreast of the activity at the school, I firmly believe this is a mark of its dynamism, and, as such, its enormous potential to continue fostering meaningful relationships with other schools and organizations in the area.
Cantwell for Supervisor
April 15, 2013
I have a dream: How about the Republican Committee inviting Larry Cantwell to screen for the supervisor position. I have read nothing coming from Mr. Cantwell that offends me as a voter, taxpayer, or resident of East Hampton Town.
To further my scenario: How about Mr. Cantwell accepting the invitation and presenting his views to the Republican Committee.
The end of my dream would be when the Republican, Democratic, and Independence Parties all endorse Larry Cantwell for supervisor.
For me, such a result would be not only refreshing but rewarding for the whole town. Imagine not having to live through a divisive, nasty campaign for supervisor. Imagine board meetings and work sessions where the jointly elected leader of the town has the backing of all parties and the voters.
In addition to a more reasoned and focused campaign, the town would greatly benefit from having a supervisor who is beholden to the town and all its voters, taxpayers, and residents; instead of a politician who owes favors for his election. I do not intend to disparage Mr. Cantwell with the “politician” comment. However, from our collective experience on both a local and national level, that seems to be the way it plays out with politicians and elections.
We have a chance here to do something new and beneficial for the town and I urge the Republican Committee and Larry Cantwell to talk.
April 15, 2013
Concerning your revealing editorial of last week, I agree that the town’s infrastructure needs attention and that our employees, though working hard, are too few in many areas to maintain our quality of life. However, astute and honest finance along with new operational efficiencies could keep taxes close to where they are now.
As an example, the expense for town attorneys in the legal department appears to be low because this administration has reduced the number of full-time attorneys working for the town. But the total town legal expense is high, because the town employs upward of a dozen outside attorneys at fees of up to $400 an hour. We could lower total legal costs and provide more service if we used fewer outside attorneys and hired an additional town attorney who specializes in land use and other issues where the town almost constantly needs legal work.
Probably the most important financial correction needed is for the outgoing supervisor not to artificially lower taxes by using surplus in his 2014 budget. In the 2013 budget, over $2 million of taxes were eliminated by using surplus to cover annual operating expenses. That builds an equal amount of tax increases into future budgets. It is imperative that next year’s budget be honest. If it is, the next administration will have an honest base from which it can operate, thus avoiding the large tax increase that is currently being built in by the Wilkinson administration’s budget methods.
Everyone who has studied the situation agrees with you that the town needs to spend more money on its infrastructure. But some investments, such as information technology, can create enough additional revenue, plus savings through new efficiencies, that the investment return is higher than its cost. Thus, taxes do not go up when measured over the life of the investment.
Most important, the town can begin an adequate program of capital projects to repair our infrastructure while lowering total outstanding debt. The town’s current debt service is high, and each year the town substantially reduces its outstanding debt when it makes its bond payments. The capital plan for the next administration can, and should, add less new debt each year than it pays off in the same year. By 2021, a prudent long-term capital plan can lower the annual debt service costs by as much as $150 a year per average taxpayer and still return the town infrastructure to proper standards.
There is one caveat, which is that the town may incur large unpredictable costs for coastal erosion efforts, or to mitigate or prevent water pollution. Therefore, the more that the town can lower our outstanding debt for our basic infrastructure needs, the better position the town will be in to absorb these unknown expenses. That is yet another reason why the next administration must practice cautious financial management while it returns the town to better operational health.
For the Record
April 12, 2013
My position regarding the East Hampton Airport is being grossly mischaracterized by Kathleen Cunningham, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for town board.
Let me state for the public record: I want the local airport to be one of the safest small airports on eastern Long Island.
That was my goal when I served as town supervisor in the early 1980s. It has not changed. I was fortunate then to serve with talented individuals like Tony Bullock and Randy Parsons who shared that goal, and we took great care to work hard toward that end.
I am in favor of reasonable, enforceable restrictions on helicopter traffic and I have never promoted policies to increase capacity at our airport. Where I differ with airport opponents is on how to achieve the goal. I do not believe that an adversarial relationship with the Federal Aviation Administration will get us where we need to be.
I believe we can achieve a quieter airport environment with a legally defensible procedure that will not threaten to bankrupt the town. I believe this is the more responsible approach to solving the problem.
Former East Hampton Town supervisor married to the pilot of a single-engine plane
April 15, 20130
To the Editor,
So, the Republicans of the East Hampton Town Board (maybe just Dominick Stanzione; it’s hard to read the political winds buffeting the board) want to make the air traffic control tower installation permanent. The “temporary” tower was supposed to last for two years as an experiment in noise abatement and control. Only one year has elapsed, and it turns out that it was strictly for safety, not noise abatement — and the noise has worsened. The surprise proposal for a permanent tower seems to be an attempt at stealth legislation.
The unadvertised attribute of a control tower is increased airport capacity. Air traffic is the uncontested source of the noise that has been the source of complaints for 25 years. Before proceeding, the board should know what the capacity of the airport is now without a control tower compared to what the capacity would be with the control tower. This would be sobering information. Does the Republican faction of the board really want to subject the East End to a legacy of uncontrolled increase in noise pollution?
And who is going to pay for this installation or its manning? If they insist on proceeding, one should demand that this permanent installation be accompanied with a legally binding commitment to accept no further Federal Aviation Administration money, to let existing grant assurances expire, and to institute local control of air traffic that would allow reasonable restrictions on types of aircraft and hours of operation.
Talk About Rudeness
April 14, 2013
To the Editor:
I just watched the April 9 brown bag session at the Montauk Firehouse on LTV. I used to go to town meetings to watch and listen and learn, but had to stop when meetings became contentious, ugly, and disturbing. Tuesday’s meeting was spectacularly bad — talk about rudeness, snarkiness, personal attacks, half-baked ideas, and just plain bad behavior.
It seems to be getting worse!
I think the current town board should take some lessons from the village board. They are civil with one another and others, they treat one another with respect, they discuss, they don’t shout and accuse. They are approachable, and they get the people’s business done.
I don’t get the anger, I don’t get the nastiness. What’s the point of all the fireworks? It’s totally counterproductive and unacceptable.
Appropriate Legal Advice
April 13, 2013
What is happening to the East Hampton Town Legal Department? I understand that several lawyers have left the town attorney’s office, and now the latest to leave is Rob Connelly. Is this a measure of this town board’s lack of skill at keeping a department of experienced lawyers?
Is it true that John Jilnicki and Kathryn Santiago are the only ones left there? Who is left to handle the important issues that come before the town zoning board of appeals, the planning board, and the architectural review board every week? There is more than enough work for Mr. Jilnicki, and Ms. Santiago seems to lack the experience and knowledge to advise these boards, which are involved in zoning and planning.
A case in point is the planning board’s last meeting, where there was a need for site plan review regarding the Beach House plans for a pool bar and gift shop, since both were substantially altered or rebuilt. Eric Schantz, an excellent planner for the Town Planning Department, stated that it was “difficult to determine what regulations-standards of the town code will be applicable to this application.” Evidently, there is not enough parking for the addition of the bar to the motel.
Ms. Santiago gave very questionable instructions to the planning board that they do not need to consider the parking issues that the planner raised. To suggest that this board ignore town law does not seem to be the appropriate legal advice for one of the most important agencies working for East Hampton.
Coast Guard Station
April 10, 2013
To the Editor,
Perhaps you know something about this problem.
At Atlantic Beach in Amagansett sits the old Coast Guard Station that Isabel Carmichael’s family donated back to the town. I understood it was for the purpose of historical preservation.
When I saw it at the beach the other day its beautiful facade had been taken down as far as I could figure, and replaced with new shingling. Maybe I saw a different structure and the old one is up the road somewhere.
Isabel is probably a victim of the American immigration problem, in which the best, brightest, and most liberal and creative (early settlers) are systematically wiped out by criminal elements in the United States that the F.B.I. and C.I.A. do not seem able to eradicate.
She must have just given up the fight. Unless the building is hiding somewhere.
Thank you for looking into this matter.
LEE POULOS DAILEY
The life-saving station is undergoing a meticulous restoration that will bring it back to the way it looked in 1902, the year it was built. Ed.
April 11, 2013
Having heretofore ranted about a wayward capitalist, Stephen Cohen, whose luxury excess spending is sickening, I would like to comment on a politician whose similar excesses in another and more important venue, politics, have made his name synonymous with negativity, subversion, political hackery, and conniving.
I refer, of course, to the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Not being satisfied with getting rid of one of its previous substandard senators, Jim Bunning, and replacing him with another winner, Rand Paul, Kentucky has moved into first place in the selection of nonproductive, annoying United States senators. Maybe the state is so full of horse excrement it can’t vote straight!
What I would really like is to see Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell kept in the stables at the racetrack of the Derby and away from Washington, but I guess that is not realistic. So at least, I would love to see this pompous, self-aggrandizing ass, McConnell, defeated in the next election, if only because of his arrogant “one-term president” remark about President Obama, but more important because he is a poisonous reprobate and a blot and obstruction to progress on the American political scene, as well as a liar and phony.
I’m sorry I can’t think of any more derogatory adjectives to describe McConnell, so we’ll just close this letter with the hope that the adage “You reap what you sow” will apply to Mitch (rhymes with son of a b—) McConnell.
RICHARD P. HIGER
A Problem With Guns
April 14, 2013
To the Editor:
The debate in Congress on gun control is a fascinating display of U.S. politics in its most retarded and devious condition. Who are these idiots in our government? Comic-book characters that one would laugh at derisively if they weren’t running the country.
Guns are like drugs. We have a problem with them and they are available everywhere. We created a massive drug apparatus that is essentially unconstitutional and ineffective because we believed that Americans had a problem with drugs. (Yet drug use is about self-destruction and personal choice.) We know we have a problem with guns but seem incapable of taking even the simplest steps to deal with the problem.
So we talk about the mental health of the mass-killer types and protecting the Second Amendment and underneath we know it’s all bullshit. Anyone who mentions either of these things should be bitch-slapped and tarred and feathered for behavior detrimental to the well-being of the nation.
Mental health killers. Americans have a problem with guns. We like to shoot each other. We love war. No people kill like we do. The numbers are staggeringly high. We can talk about our national psyche, but no one wants to do that. So how can we focus on the mental health of mass killers? It’s imbecilic to think that we can test the mental stability of everyone who buys a gun.
Second Amendment. Ninety-nine percent of the population has never read the Constitution. Has no clue what’s inside it. Yet, suddenly the National Rifle Association and its cronies are constitutional experts. Things have changed since 1789. If we followed the Constitution in a literal manner there would be no questions about civil rights, gay marriage, abortion, drug use, etc.
We can’t possibly protect ourselves against the government. We have massive police apparatus and an army and drones and satellites spying on us. We don’t need the Second Amendment to allow us to own guns. We need a sensible, logical distribution system.
Controlling assault weapons, large magazines, and background checks are a function of controlling a problem — not an impingement on owning guns. Most gun owners have no problem with these controls, nor should they. They aren’t ideological, simply practical and necessary. What the N.R.A. wants to protect is the right to manufacture and distribute guns, not the right to own them.
Illegal guns are not manufactured illegally. They aren’t shipped into the country clandestinely. They become illegal as a function of the distribution system. The legal-illegal debate is ground cover for the distribution problem. We don’t let junkies work in pharmacies. The proliferation of arms is a major problem in a society where the gun-culture psyche is dodgy. Anyone can buy any arm if they have the money to pay for it.
So two pro-gun (oxymoronic) senators work out a compromise to protect gun owners with a few biscuits for background checks. We accept the lowest common denominator because of a miniscule suspension of ideology on their parts. It’s like applauding your kid’s D school grade-point average because it’s better than all Fs. Gun control isn’t rocket science. If it were we could understand the problem. It’s really about the collective cretinism of a political system that sets the bar so low because it can’t do any better.