Kids and drinking |

Kids and drinking

Gary Lindstrom

Something terrible is killing our children. Something terrible is killing our children and it is something that is legal. It is alcohol.Adults, older friends and sometimes relatives are providing the killing alcohol.I think it is a question of maturity. When I was a cop, we used to call Friday and Saturday night “Amateur Night.” The night the people who did not know how to drink responsibly would hit the streets and cause injury and mayhem.Our kids do not know how to drink the same way I did not know how to drink when I was their age. By the way, before you start writing your letters to the editor, I do drink and I am not a prohibitionist.In the past couple of months, I have been told there are now seven deaths of young people in Colorado that can be attributed directly to alcohol poisoning. Not deaths from drunken driving. Not deaths from reckless behavior after using alcohol. These deaths have resulted from the over-consumption of alcohol. Drinking so much they died.I was in law enforcement for over 31 years and coroner for almost eight years. I saw a lot of serious bodily injury and hundreds of deaths. I can’t remember ever working a case of alcohol poisoning.Some people might say these deaths were always out there but were under reported. They were quietly handled to not upset the parents and loved ones of the deceased. I am not saying that has never happened, but from where I am sitting it appears the problem is getting worse.I and several other legislators have submitted bill titles to address this problem.My bill would require that beer kegs be numbered and recorded at the liquor store. The name of the purchaser would be kept in a log and crossed off when the keg was returned. If there was a keg found at a party involving minors or a death, the purchaser of the keg would be known to law enforcement.Someone asked last week if this would stop children from getting kegs and drinking too much. Of course not. If laws stopped crime then we would not have any crime. I am certain we have most crimes covered by laws. Others have suggested we lower the drinking age to 18. The way the law is now we are making children criminals because the age is too high. We send people to die in Iraq at 18 so why can’t they drink? It is the maturity thing. We found out when the drinking age was 18 that there are more drinking-related car accidents and deaths.Maybe to take the irony out of this we should not send anyone to Iraq to die regardless of his or her age.My bill is designed to track down the responsible person who purchased the alcohol for the children. The other proposed laws include one to increase the penalty assessed to the person who buys alcohol for children. This would change the charge for the crime before the court.I can hear some parents saying they buy alcohol for their children so they can drink at home and not out in the community where they might get hurt. Interesting. Whenever I hear that, I remind the parents it is illegal to buy alcohol for children and they are committing a crime.Maybe they should buy the child a handgun so he or she can use it at home. You know over 90 percent of murders are committed by a family member? A crime is a crime.We are a nation of laws, and not of men. Without the community adhering to laws we have anarchy. Let’s teach our children it is OK to break the law concerning alcohol and then expect them to follow all of the other laws. Makes sense to me. Keeps many people employed, such as police officers, attorneys and judges.My good friend Rep. Wes McKinley from Walsh, down in Baca County, told me one of his constituents suggested that in order to pass a new law we should have to get rid of an old law. That might not be a bad idea. A certain number of laws forever. Never more, never less.I think the strongest message is the one we see on TV all the time about talking to our kids. When you tell your kids not to drink, they think about it. When you tell your kids not to use drugs, they think about it. No one is saying that is all we have to do, but it is a start. You have to set an example of how you want your children to behave. It is either that or taking a trip to the hospital to identify your child after he or she has died of alcohol poisoning. You pick what you want to do. I think I know the answer.Gary Lindstrom of Summit County is Eagle County’s state representative.Vail, Colorado

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