Vail Daily letter: Wrong direction
Ryan Summerlin March 4, 2013
I am writing in response to Diana Mitsch Bush’s editorial explaining why she voted the way she did on the HB 1224, 1226, 1228 and1229.
To begin, Ms. Bush states: These gun safety bills we voted on aim to reduce and, hopefully, prevent violence by criminals who use guns to inflict injury or death on Colorado resident.
In general, I disagree that any of the bills in question will prevent violence by criminals who use guns to inflict injury or death on Colorado resident for one simple and all encompassing reason: Criminals do not care if they are in violation of gun laws, or any other laws. Otherwise they would not be criminals.
In particular, I believe that the time, energy and money dedicated by our elected, tax-funded legislators toward the writing of these four essentially useless and unenforceable bills could have been better focused on writing legislation that mandates far more draconian sentencing for repeat violent social offenders, thus taking away the option for DAs and judges to plea bargain a proven violent criminal out of a prison sentence that otherwise would have kept said criminals from re-offending.
As an example, William Spengler, the New York resident who set ablaze his home in order to bait a trap that led to the killing of two firefighters by Spengler’s hand, had previously been jailed for 17 years on a plea bargained manslaughter charge for killing his 92-year-old grandmother with a hammer. His sentence was dealt with thusly: “A judge sentenced Spengler to the max: eight and one-third to 25 years. That punishment was what is called an ‘indeterminate sentence.’ The judge could not designate just how much of that time Spengler had to serve.” (http://blogs.democratandchronicle.com/watchdog/?p=2464)
Had he not been allowed to plea bargain the original charge of murder in the first degree down to manslaughter, he would not have been released back in to the public sector and the two firefighters would still be alive today.
Their killing was not the result of Spengler having an assault weapon, or a high capacity magazine. It was the result of his defense attorney’s ability to play the law to his advantage.
I am not an attorney. Nor do I have a Ph.D. in sociology and social policy as Ms. Bush has, for which I commend her.
But I do have an instinctive social conscience that tells me that violent, repeat criminals need to be kept away from society.
I know, from having been fortunate enough to travel the world, that there is no better place in the world to live than the United States of America, and in all those United States, few, if any, states are better than Colorado.
Having said that, Colorado has evolved, or devolved, depending on one’s point of view, in to a very liberal state, one that punishes a drunk driver more swiftly and severely in many cases than they do a repeat felon.
If a judge or a DA can be mandated on the sentencing of a person who had the bad judgment to drink and drive, why can they not be mandated on the sentencing of a person who has carried out repeat, violent acts against society in general?
Why are our legislators not concentrating their time and efforts to this end, instead of concentrating them on the writing of legislation which, by their own admission, will have little effect on preventing the problems they are aimed at preventing?