September 24, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Not done yet

To (mis)quote Mark Twain, the report of my leaving the legislature has been exaggerated in Guy Page’s March 22 column (“Legislative check-in as we turn toward spring”). I have made no firm decision to leave the legislature. I still love the work, and knowing I will have my hands directly on the issue that matters to me — a clean, healthy environment — and knowing I have a chance to work toward that goal, still gives me a great feeling when I wake up every morning.

My decision will be based on how I read the attitude of the legislature on protecting the environment next session, my personal and family situation, as it always does, and if I think my constituents will still have me represent them in the Vermont House.

Rep. David Deen

Westminster

A tribute to student activists

Marcelle and I, and Vermonters across our state, are so proud of Vermont’s students for their actions at last week’s March For Our Lives in Montpelier and Washington. We admire your energy, your clarity and your personal investment of time and action.

I can tell you this: America not only is seeing and hearing you; America is listening to you.

You’re already making a difference in Vermont and in other states. On Friday, the Vermont House acted on landmark gun safety legislation after hearing Vermont students’ powerful testimony.

As you marched and rallied, I was mindful of how the spectacular mass movement that produced the Women’s March a year ago made a difference — then, and since then. A year ago, having just taken the post of vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, I was in the middle of negotiations on the first budget proposals submitted by the new president, Donald Trump.

I took the energy of the Women’s March directly into those tense negotiations. And we prevailed, again and again, on item after item, in standing up for America’s true priorities.

At the time of Sandy Hook I chaired the Judiciary Committee. After the Sandy Hook tragedy I chaired the first hearings in Congress on gun safety. Right off the bat at that hearing, the witness from the NRA reversed position, suddenly opposing the closing of the background check loopholes. Only a few years before, they had supported closing those loopholes.

I moved four gun safety bills through the Judiciary Committee after Sandy Hook, and most of them also had majority support on the Senate floor. But the gun lobby blocked final action.

I believe that the students of America — this impressive new generation — really have the opportunity to help us all make things different this time.

We thank you for sacrificing your time, for contributing your energy and for your steadfast commitment.

You are Vermont Strong, and we are so proud of you.

Sen. Patrick Leahy

For gun ownership and gun control

Like most people, I have many traits that make up my identity: I am a father, a husband and a worker.

Like many Vermonters, I can also add “hunter” to that list. Hunting has been a formative part of my life; it taught me the valuable lessons of hard work, persistence, resilience and gratitude. More concretely, it has provided sustenance for my family. Guns are a crucial tool to hunting, and they will always be a significant part of my life.

Like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am an avid supporter of the Second Amendment. And, like many responsible gun owners and hunters, I am also a staunch supporter of universal background checks.

Background checks will not prevent all mass shootings, homicides or crimes with guns, but this is not an excuse to sit back and do nothing. It is not a panacea that will abolish all gun crimes in the future. There is no one single answer.

Background checks are but a key piece — along with other measures such as extreme risk protection orders and removing guns from domestic violence situations — that will help keep guns away from people who should not have them.

It is our responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce violence, reduce life lost, protect children and improve public safety. Background checks enjoy broad support in Vermont, and they work.

A 2016 Castleton poll showed that 84 percent of respondents support universal background checks in Vermont. Studies have shown that in states that require background checks for all handgun sales, 47 percent fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, 53 percent fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death with handguns, and there are 53 percent fewer suicides by gun.

How easy does it really need to be to buy a gun? I am unmoved by some gun owners’ arguments that it will add cost or inconvenience to their purchase. I am personally willing to wait just a little longer or pay a relatively small fee to increase the odds that someone who shouldn’t be buying a gun might be turned away, or, better yet, won’t even try to buy one.

Daniel Mulligan

Richmond

Easter concerns for pets

Easter provides a host of fun treats and activities, but some can cause problems for our pets.

This includes not only the candy, but also the toys and flowers. Chicks and bunnies sometimes given as Easter pets can also create problems.

For most of us, Easter treats bring to mind chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and jelly beans, all of which can be toxic to our pets. Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and in severe cases, death. Peeps and jelly beans can cause gastrointestinal problems.

Some Easter candy may have artificial sweeteners that can cause a rapid severe drop in blood sugar in dogs and cats, leading to seizures and death.

The solution is to keep all candy out of reach of pets. Do not assume that your dog or cat will not get into the candy because they never have before. There is a first time for everything and you don’t want to take the risk with your beloved pet’s life.

Small toys and other plastic items can be eaten by our pets, causing them to choke or causing a blockage in their intestinal tract. Fake grass may look fun to chew on and play with to our pets, but it can cause them to choke or obstruct their intestines if ingested. Cats especially love to chew on (and swallow) long stringy things like fake grass; it can cause severe damage and even death if it gets caught in their intestines. Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats.

Bunnies and chicks are impossibly cute when they’re little, but they grow up to be adult rabbits and chickens that have housing, feeding and handling requirements that most people don’t know about.

Chickens are flock animals and don’t do well individually. Shelters are often inundated with rabbits after Easter, and most are not equipped to take in a large number of rabbits. A serious misconception is that they can simply be released into the wild. But released rabbits often starve or become easy prey for predators.

If you are not prepared to take care of your bunny or a small flock of chickens in the long run, stick to chocolate rabbits and peeps. They are easy to care for and don’t stay around long.

M. Kathleen Shaw and
Erin Forbes

Vermont Veterinary
Medical Association

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