Letters to the Editor

– Guns, guns, guns!
– Transparency

Guns, guns, guns!
Letter from Linda Bartlett, Farnham

Have Virginia lawmakers gone crazy? Where were they when Virginia Tech students were slaughtered? Guns, guns, guns! I am so tired of being in a state that approves gun laws that were prevalent in the old west. We took a huge step in outlawing tobacco in bars and restaurants. Now legislators want people to be able to carry hidden guns in bars and restaurants. I believe I would rather have emphysema than be shot to death in a bar by someone who had too much to drink.

And to put icing on the cake – someone who has a concealed weapon in a bar is not supposed to drink. I feel sorry for the barkeeps. They may have to pat down each patron to see if they have a concealed weapon before they serve them a drink. Do you think a person would fess up that he had a gun on him before he ordered a Jack Daniels and coke? Picture this, “I’ll have a Jack and coke and by the way I’m packing my six shooters.”

Bartenders now have the option to refuse to serve drinks to anyone who is obviously intoxicated. If a person leaves a bar while intoxicated and commits a hit and run or other vehicular crime, the barkeep has some responsibility because he or she continued serving alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated. And what about the safety of the bartender who refuses to serve a drink due to a patrons’ intoxication? The bartender may be putting himself and others at risk. How many drunks have you seen fighting mad when someone tells them they have had too much to drink?

I could not believe Senator Emmet W. Hanger R-Augusta stated that law abiding citizens are not able to enjoy meals at Red Lobster because they cannot bring in their gun or guns (due to recent legislation a person can buy more than one handgun a month). This line of thought is too bizarre. I cannot understand why restaurateurs are not fighting this tooth and nail. It has been proven over and over that some people under the influence of alcohol become agitated easily. Guns and alcohol do not mix well; we hear horror stories about this on a daily basis.

The House is turning over bills right and left making gun ownership and gun purchases easier. This new legislation will enable anyone to have a concealed weapon and I assume the weapon would be a handgun. Republicans are notorious for shouting that Democrats want to take their guns away. In light of recent murders, I would think our government representatives would be more receptive to those who have lost loved ones and those who see through political partianship than to worn out mantras that do not fit the society we live in today.

After the Virginia Tech massacre Virginia was featured on 60 Minutes and the directors demonstrated how easy it is to buy a gun in the parking lot of a gun show in Richmond. The sellers did not need purchasers’ identification as long as they slipped them a few extra dollars. Virginia was touted as one of the states where East Coast criminals get their weapons since our gun laws are so weak. I felt embarrassed. I felt saddened thinking about all those fresh faces whose life was snubbed out in such a horrible fashion. I also felt and feel angry that we either have legislators who are uneducated about issues or they have been duped by persons lobbying for gun mania.


Pauline Wagner, Reston

In many ways Virginia is a progressive state; it’s rated as the best managed state and so forth. But in the area of our state legislators’ transparency we are stuck in the past century.

The strong message the voters sent last November is that it’s time for a change. During the campaign, candidate Bob McDonnell introduced a “good government” plan to bring more responsibility to Richmond in the way the state budgets and spends money. Polls show voters favor transparency. The voters have responded well to this.

In the current session of the General Assembly our signature issue is to stop using Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) federal block grant funds for everything under the sun. Because funds are distributed through “earmarks,” SALT supported Delegate David Englin’s proposal (HB 80) for good government and transparency because it moved to a competitive TANF Funding Pool. HB 80 would ensure scarce dollars are targeted to effective and efficient programs and would depoliticize the allocation of these funds. Additionally, the McDonnell administration and the Department of Social Services supported the bill as a needed accountability reform.

Regrettably, to avoid accountability, on Monday, Feb. 8 HB 80 was “tabled by a voice vote” in the House Appropriations subcommittee. Without a recorded vote, it is impossible to know who voted to table. Unfortunately, the legislators who currently have the power to direct “earmarks” are also the legislators who must approve reforming the earmark process.

It is amazing how legislators who profess to support accountability will not vote yes for good policy. They can get away with this because with “the voice vote” their votes are never recorded. Unless a concerned citizen gets up at the crack of dawn and is lucky enough to get into the meeting room to see the vote occur, or has a video recorder, it’s nearly impossible to know what happened. Even being in the room is no guarantee.

The question is one of accountability. The public ought to know what happened.


Pauline Wagner is a member of Social Action Linking Together.


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