Letters to the editor Aug. 11

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Time for open dialogue about mental health

Let’s look at things a little differently and shift from the Second Amendment argument to the First Amendment. The following opinion is meant to examine a small segment of the population: Unstable persons with clear violent intent.

As a former mental health professional for the Flathead Crisis Response Team, I witnessed daily pleas by family members and loved ones concerned for the safety of someone who was making threatening remarks to harm themselves or others. Calls to police, the county attorney and public defender’s offices, and psych hospitals were very similar. An emotionally unstable person had a gun, or an arsenal of guns, and was threatening to kill a lot of people. Sadly, unless the person’s intent was imminent as defined in the Montana Mental Health Code, there is nothing law enforcement or mental health professionals can do other than a welfare check and mental health evaluation. In many cases this has occurred multiple times and usually the person is released from the hospital or jail because the threats were not “imminent.”

The responses from police, judicial and mental health systems appears to be a weak merry-go-round of “there’s nothing we can do” because of how the mental health statute is worded. See Montana Code Annotated 53-21-102 Definitions and Emergency Situation, and 53-21-129 Emergency situation/petition/detention.

We need to have an open dialogue about mental health. Please engage your legislators to examine the definition and criteria of what constitutes an “emergency situation.” This needs to be changed at a state and national level. We need the cooperation of the NRA and the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) to respectfully move forward with changing the verbiage for involuntary civil commitments. Let’s shift the pro- and anti-gun sentiments and current politicized deadlock to creating a solution.

—Sonya French, Kalispell

Gun sense

Last weekend I traveled to Washington, D.C., for a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America leadership conference. While sitting in a room learning strategies to educate my community on gun safety in schools, I received an alert that an active shooter incident was occurring in El Paso, Texas. Earlier the same morning I found out a boy from Radersburg, Montana was killed by a gun incident. Two more communities that have now been traumatized by gun violence.

The ripple effect of these incidents will forever affect hundreds of people for the rest of their lives. We must act. There is so much more we can do to keep our families safe. We need our senators to vote to require a background check on all gun sales. The House of Representatives has already passed a background checks bill. Join Moms Demand Action to tell your senators to demand action too. To be connected with your senators text CHECKS to 644-33.

—Tara Lee, Kalispell

Dangerous summer roads

Another summer in the Flathead will be winding down in short order. Thank God.

This summer has seen the most tourists in memory. Our roads are clogged with countless out-of-state people and the accident rate in June was the highest in 10 years. We don’t have enough local drunks so we encourage huge numbers to come to the Flathead and party. This county will become Los Angeles East and New Jersey West in a few years.

Our state and county have encouraged this insane growth and tourist trade to the detriment of local residents. Bigfork has become insanely crowded and many locals avoid the events downtown. Every time you turn around there is a new event in Bigfork. I am expecting that we will soon have the Montana sewage festival appear soon. I was astounded after contacting the Department of Revenue in Helena when I learned that Bigfork has 50 liquor licenses. What a great combination. Choked highways and plenty of booze for everyone.

I have personally been stopped in traffic three times this summer due to fatal accidents. A driver from Minnesota killed a mother and daughter on Montana 35 a few weeks ago. Another driver from Washington was passing in a no-passing zone outside of Bigfork and hit a truck head-on, causing severe injuries to several children in the vehicle. A couple of months ago an alleged drunk driver crashed into a Kalispell home and killed a beautiful teenage girl who was sleeping.

Residents of this valley have to put up with this insanity every year and the least our elected officials could do is give residents some tax relief with a tourist tax.

We need to stop over advertising this valley and stop our drunk driving culture.

—Ronald McCormack, Bigfork

Are we going to stand idle?

Meatless Mondays for your school lunch program? Meat grown in a petri dish from a foreign lab? These are questions we need to ask Gov. Steve Bullock.

By his executive order, Montana is now obligated to advance the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In order to meet the Paris objectives, everything having a carbon footprint is on the table, including our beef industry.

At present, U.S. meat consumption is about 222 pounds per person per year. Nationally, the goal is to reduce this to 35 pounds per person. In short, Bullock wants to cut Montana meat production by about 85 percent. Thus, our $2 billion per year cattle industry will be cut to $300,000 per year. Just to bolster his presidential bid, he aims to cut our beef industry by $1.7 billion dollars.

Several years ago, the Colstrip shutdown announcements were aired. A few “goodwill” dollars were thrown in later to seal the deal. Next, it was implied that market forces, not radical environmentalist lawsuits, were to blame. It is understandable believing these lies once.

Simply put, Colstrip was a beta test to determine if we Montanan’s would stand idly by. We did, thus, their beta test was highly successful. It isn’t surprising, that today, we sit here with a signed executive order dictating Montana fall in line with the Colstrip example.

Is small town Montana to become ghost town Montana? Are we going to stand idle or are we going to write those letters?

—TJ Smith, Billings

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