Last week, a United Airlines flight attendant forced a passenger with a small dog to put the dog in an overhead storage bin during a flight, even though there were no vents for the dog to breathe. The dog did not survive the flight, and in less than a week, legislation was introduced into Congress to prevent such a tragedy from happening again. The bill is called the WOOFF Act — the Welfare Of Our Furry Friends.

When a defenseless puppy dies on an airplane, Congress is almost instantly roused to action. Why then, are our legislators so reluctant to provide the same level of care and concern for our children, when we have already lost so many to gun violence? How many mass shootings will it take before we see some meaningful legislation that could begin to turn the tide and make our schools, theaters, malls, and other public places safer?

Doing nothing to enhance school safety is not an option. Thoughtful gun control measures would be helpful and are one tool to help get there, but there are other — perhaps more beneficial — avenues we as a society should pursue.

At a Haywood Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting last week, Waynesville Police Lt. Tyler Trantham’s topic was how to plan for live shooter situations in businesses, churches and schools. It was the second part of his presentation, the first having come on Feb. 7 — exactly one week before the school massacre in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day.

Columbine, Sandy Hook, Stoneman Douglas — those names ring out like the bullets that once flew through their hallways, stark reminders of a perplexing and tragic problem that simply hasn’t gone away. 

Would you turn your back on a long and meaningful friendship because of widening political differences? I won’t do it, and I don’t understand people who would. 

The gun control debate is the perfect example. It’s as polarizing and divisive issue as there is, especially after what happened two weeks ago at a high school in Parkland, Florida. 

By Martin Dyckman • Guest Columnist

Cars don’t kill. Drivers do.

Remember that? No one does, because although Detroit dragged its feet over the cost of making autos safer, it couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t possible or wouldn’t matter. Thanks to seat belts, air bags and other improvements we now take for granted, along with stricter enforcement of traffic laws, the highway death toll per capita has been cut nearly in half since 1960. That’s with more than three times as many vehicles on the road.

My grandfather loved guns. He had a magnificent collection, including a dazzling array of pistols, shotguns, and rifles, some very old and exotic. These he kept locked in a gun cabinet that was strictly off limits not just to children, but to anyone. Most days, he wore a pistol strapped to his side just like Wyatt Earp, though his was more likely to be used to shoot a copperhead or water moccasin than some rounder in a saloon.

By William Everett • Guest Columnist

Garret Woodward’s Opinion piece “After tragedy in Vegas, where to from here?” (Oct. 4-10) leads us to wider questions about the fragility and peril of our country’s public life. Not only are our fellow citizens dying in mass shootings. Our republic itself is under assault. The integrity of the public arenas that constitute the lifeblood of our republican order is imperiled by the threat and fear of violence, while the fog of lies and a flood of political dark money pollute the reasonable debate at the heart of republican self-governance. The failure of governance through informed and reasonable argument creates a vicious circle of violent speech and violent acts. The freedom of self-governance cannot survive under conditions of violence and the threat of violence. Our freedom as citizens rests not in our possession of guns but in our capacity to engage in a public life of reasonable debate about the common good. Throughout history the collapse of the public life underlying republican governance has created the conditions for despotism, tyranny, and dictatorship. Despots arise who campaign on collective fear and govern by personal greed.

When local businessman Jule Morrow proposed a gun shop and indoor firing range in the pastoral Francis Farm community last winter, not everyone was excited about it.

A group of Second Amendment supporters planning an open-carry gun rights rally will move ahead with their event, scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 5.

Haywood County political activists hope to hold a gun rights rally on the grounds of the Historic Haywood County Courthouse just days before the General Election in November.

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