Editor’s Note: Welcome to our letters to the editor page. Here you’ll find reader comments on Advocate articles and other news. We collect readers’ opinions from emails, letters, Facebook comments, and comments to valleyadvocate.com. Want to get in on this? Email deisen@valleyadvocate.com and put “BackTalk” or “letter to the editor” in the subject.

Banning specific guns won’t work, but taking them away from violent people will

I recently read your article in the March 1 Advocate (Guns Spark a New Student Movement — And a Fight for Their Lives, March 1-14, 2018). I would like to express agreement with some of your thoughts and add a little clarification. You find fault with addressing “mental health issues” because mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Of course that is clear to all but does not excuse allowing mentally incompetent and dangerous individuals to be armed. You say if a person believes it is okay to beat spouse, children, etc…, that should render them ineligible to own or use firearms. YES. That has actually been the law for many years. The shooter in Florida was reported to police as being violent dozens of times, including holding a gun to someone’s head. You will not find a single NRA member who will think that person should have a gun. By law, the Deputy Sheriff had to prosecute, remove all guns, and enter the person in the national database so he would not ever again be able to legally buy a gun. Why did he refuse to follow those laws and let a violent person continue to possess guns? In speaking about “bump stocks,” the unpleasant truth is that, in Las Vegas, bump stocks probably saved many lives. They are an inefficient novelty item that allows someone to shoot faster that they can aim or keep the barrel stable. With the barrel constantly bouncing around a half inch in every direction the trajectory of the bullets is thrown off such that (at the 500 yard distance cited) it is quite likely that half the shots fired fell outside of the whole crowded area. How is it that “banning the AR-15” will be anything other than symbolic? Do you realize there are literally hundreds of millions of guns (of thousand of different models) that shoot as fast as the AR-15? Is another law to ban a tiny percent of guns (from lawful owners, since it doesn’t apply to those who ignore laws) going to somehow make them safer or still leave them all as “sitting ducks”? Saying a certain gun (over even all guns) should not exist does nothing to protect the lives of innocents when a deranged person breaks the law.

—Harry Vandoloski, Hadley

Bail is robbery of the poor

The Unitarian Church of Monson will be showing the film, “The Bail Trap” on Saturday, March 24th, at 7 p.m. Only two nations in the world use money bail because it is not effective. Accused individuals return for a court date at the same rate (88 percent) whether there is bail or not. It is a scheme by insurance companies to make themselves richer at the expense of poor people who cannot afford bail. The film follows the story of a promising college student who inadvertently gives a ride to two friends who do some shoplifting. She is arrested with them and her bail is set at $100,000. She must go to a bail bondsman for this amount. The charges are dropped and the bail is returned but the 10 percent fee ($10,000) is still due. She must drop out of school and work excessively to pay off this debt at $250 per week.

What other investment can deliver 10 percent in only a few days? This is robbery of the poor. The free film will be followed by discussion and refreshments. For more info call Malita at 413-596-9075.

—Malita Brown, Wilbraham

Others have worse radiation exposure than at Vermont Yankee site

In response to “Vermont Yankee transfer gaining traction with state agencies and environmental activists,” published on valleyadvocate.com on March 6, 2018.

Thank you. Very good story. Particularly good is the using the average radiation exposure to members of the public as a reference. At some time you might also use the public exposure in Ramsar, Iran, the highest natural exposure to people anywhere in the world — over 4,000 mrem a year with no adverse effects. 50,000 mrem in a short time is the exposure where just detectable physical effects are seen.

—Howard Shaffer, startup engineer at Vermont Yankee, website comment