Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

April 21 letters to the editor

‘Terrorist’ label won’t stop mass shootings

In The Dominion Post on Feb. 22, Delegate Bill Ridenour (R-Jefferson) was quoted saying: “School shooters are terrorists. That’s all they are.” At the anniversary of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, we appeal to Ridenour and others who share this view.

The “terrorist” label does not help reduce gun-related deaths in this country. As Ridenour is a public servant, we ask that he focus his attention on evidence-based approaches to better assess risk and reduce harm.

Out of 40,000 annual gun deaths, only 16-30 are from school shootings. Of all categories of firearms-related deaths, school shootings are toward the bottom of the list. At the top is suicide.

Critically, suicide and mass shootings are linked. According to a 2022 National Institute of Justice study, the majority of mass shooters are suicidal, victims of past trauma and/or in crisis. Their situation, combined with easy access to firearms, results in tragedy. Specifically, that same study reports that in 80% of school shootings, the shooter obtained the firearm from the home. This finding supports that safe storage of firearms is one effective way to reduce their careless use in moments of crises.

Of course we agree that mass shootings are horrific events. Yes, in some cases, they are acts of domestic terrorism. But reducing their likelihood requires a different framework. After all, school shooters are also our sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and neighbors. Among them are veterans struggling with brain injury and/or trauma, as the 2023 case of Robert Card shows.

No matter what we call mass shooters, we can all do better to understand the underlying causes of and conditions that result in this terror.

María Alejandra Pérez

Chris White

Biden should listen to U.S. voters on ceasefire

On April 9, I participated in the brief shutdown of the U.S. Senate cafeteria, as part of the actions of Christians for a Free Palestine. We did this to support the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and to support the efforts to work for a lasting and sustainable peace.

According to the column in The DP by Froma Harrop on April 11, this makes me a far-left agitator, because it threatens the reelection of President Biden. Yet according to the polls, this instead makes me part of the majority of Americans. If you ask folks, “Do you support the ongoing starvation of the people in Gaza?,” what will they say? If you ask, “Do you want your tax dollars to fund more bombs for the further destruction of universities and hospitals in Gaza?,” what will they say? What will you say?

And if some Christians claim that the killing of more than 14,000 children in Gaza is the express will of God, then those Christians need to find another god. Because the god they worship has never met Jesus of Nazareth.

If President Biden prefers to do the will of far-right voters in Israel rather than the will of middle-of-the-road voters in America, I cannot stop him. He will choose his path, and I will choose mine.

Rev. Wes Bergen

In support of Fattore Morgan for Mon BOE

Please join me in voting for Christina Fattore Morgan for the Monongalia County Board of Education. Christina is a mother of children in our public school system, as well as having an extensive career as an educator. Her leadership and knowledge of how to foster a positive learning environment provide her with the qualifications to be an effective member of the board and represent the interests of students, parents and teachers.

It is also important to note that if Christina does not win in the election, our board of education will be comprised of four men and one woman. We need more women elected into our local public offices. What message does it send to our young women when many of our elected boards are majority male?

Election day is May 14. Every vote counts in shaping the future of public education in Monongalia County.

Marti Shamberger

In support of Shawn Smith for Mon BOE

For nearly three-quarters of a century, my family has been and continue to be administrators, educators and volunteers within the Monongalia County school system. With a lifetime of family investment, we stand for our public schools. From this context, I endorse Shawn Smith for the Monongalia County Board of Education.

As a devoted husband and father, a frontlines-invested community member and  a business person of excellence,  Shawn stands resolutely established in Mon County’s landscape of excellence.

Shawn listens well. While he is firmly rooted in his own principles, Shawn’s skill in the craft of listening to those with whom he represents is unrivaled. With empathy, Shawn meets each where he and she is, and together he walks with those he serves to the areas of effective conclusions.

Shawn respects and values the classroom, the central office and the practicality of all of our day-to-day lives. For these reasons and so very many others, I will be voting for Shawn Smith for Monongalia County Board of Education.

Kevin Cain

Vote ‘yes’ in May for the Mountain Line levy

As a businessman and dedicated community member, I urge everyone to vote to keep the Mountain Line levy. There is no downside to keeping this levy, but a huge loss to everyone in the community if we lose it.

Why should everyone support the Mountain Line levy? It’s in the math. In 2021, TRIP, a national surface transportation research organization, reported that to operate a vehicle on the roads in the Greater Morgantown Area, given the road conditions and the traffic, at that time costs the average driver an additional $1,201 annually. Keep in mind that every vehicle means more road miles built, more maintenance, wear and tear, safety, traffic controls, congestion, time, delay and expense.

Public transit is a wise community investment. Every $1 invested returns to the local economy and can save families up to $9,000 a year in transportation costs in place of a car. Mountain Line already serves more than 2,600 households without cars and provides thousands of working residents, employers, seniors, families, students and citizens with disabilities.

The levy funds of $1.5 million allowed Mountain Line to purchase and operate 20 new buses costing $7,720,000, with a federal funds match of $6,176,000. All of this allowed for new and expanded service. This Mountain Line levy will not increase your tax bill; it just continues the same levy rates passed in 2016 and 2020. For a Class II property with an assessed value of $160,000, the levy would cost $35.20/year or $2.93/month.

Check with the Monongalia County Assessor to determine your actual rate. Just do the math! I will bet your cost will be less than what many of you spend for your favorite coffee each day or for breakfast.

Everyone should vote ‘yes’ on the renewal of the Mountain Line levy!

Michael Callen