It's likely that many readers will find the statement that the death penalty is "kind of like picking and choosing and playing who's going to live and who's going to die ... because the loss of one life is too many" (Triangles, July 20) to be overly sympathetic to those on death row. After all, almost everyone on death row has himself, beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt, taken a life and shattered a victim's family.
However, it's worth noting that two days before this article was published Eric Rudolph, who has expressed nothing but contempt for the many people he killed with premeditation, received only a life sentence. The key difference between Rudolph and those on our state's death row was that he had a good lawyer who secured a plea bargain. Over 98 percent of the people on our death row had no lawyer at their trial other than a public defender. Often the fact that an experienced lawyer has been hired by the accused is enough to prevent our soi-disant justice system from seeking the death penalty. If we don't apply the death penalty in the most egregious cases and impose it exclusively on those too poor to afford a lawyer, why do we presume that we can justly impose this ultimate punishment?
Don't blame guns
The diatribes (Back Talk, July 20) against Grass Roots North Carolina (GRNC) and its president F. Paul Valone made up in colorful insults and misinformation what they lacked in statistics and empiric data. The legislation proposed by GRNC to empower victims of domestic violence would not "give guns to women," but simply cut through the red tape for qualified women who choose to obtain a concealed carry permit and require the court to inform victims protected by a restraining order what their self-defense options are. Women under threat of death from a suicidal/homicidal man do not have the luxury of waiting three months for a permit. The data indicates that restraining orders and attempts to disarm perpetrators does not reduce domestic homicides. In fact, using data provided by the NCCADV, domestic homicides increased by 26 percent after implementation of the Homicide Prevention Act.
The assertion that women are somehow incompetent to use a firearm or that the gun will be used against them is not supported by existing data. There are between 15 million and 20 million women who own firearms in the U.S. According to nationally-acclaimed criminologist and ACLU member Gary Kleck, firearms are used in self-defense 2.5 million times a year, and in 48 percent of those incidents, the defenders are women. He also found in an analysis of data from the Department of Justice (1979-1985 National Crime Survey data) that victims who defended themselves with a gun had the least chance of being injured. Doing nothing or physical resistance other than with a gun had higher probabilities of injury.
You don't have to "worship" a gun to understand that it is a powerful deterrent to an attack. That's why the police carry guns, not restraining orders. And while the oft-quoted statistic that guns are more likely to be found in the home of domestic violence victims than other homes may be true, it's ridiculous to conclude that the gun caused the crime. Since needles for insulin injection are often found in the home of diabetics, should we conclude that needles are a cause of diabetes?
J.E. Stone Parker
Pick up the phone
Bob Geary seemed almost proud that he felt he did not need to call David Price, Bob Etheridge and Brad Miller before condemning their votes against the DeLauro amendment (Citizen, July 6).
Unlike Geary, I suspected there might be more to the story. So I contacted Rep. Price's office and learned that the amendment would forbid the United States from doing business with any company chartered in Bermuda, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Antigua or Panama. The amendment made no distinction between companies that had originally been based in the U.S. and those that were never U.S.-based. Does that sound like sensible, fair public policy?
Geary said, "...while I don't have time to call our members' offices, why should I?" Hmmm....
While I'm writing, I also would like to add a note to the Indy's June 29 story on the Durham Farmers' Market ("Durham Farmers' Market to break ground"). Rep. Price in 2004 secured a $100,000 Economic Development Initiative grant to help build the market. This was the market's first large funding commitment.
An article last week about the Durham Bulls Youth Athletic League ("Home Field Advantage," July 20) incorrectly referred to Durham Police Department street worker James Blackburn as an officer. He is not a sworn officer.