I am writing this letter to the editor as a response to Commissioner Nick Hostetter’s remarks in support of Dubois County becoming a 2A sanctuary county. Below is a summary of the Commissioner’s as well as my counter to his statement.
Commissioner Hostetter stated that he supports Dubois County being a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, and thinks it a re-affirming of our support for the Second Amendment from the almost constant attacks by our federal government on the 2nd amendment. He went on to say he hopes that enough counties and cities become 2A sanctuaries and adopt similar measures to send a message to the federal government and maybe they will quit their assault on the Second Amendment.
He stated he was not suggesting that people can carry a gun into a gun-free zone such as schools, churches, government buildings, etc. Continuing on to reiterate his support of the Second Amendment and that most of our county would agree that they believe in the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.
He went on to make the bold statement, “gun control isn’t going to have any impact on crime or criminals, this Colorado shooter didn’t wake up in the morning and say if that gun’s illegal I’m not going to shoot up a grocery store today, that’s just not how it works”.
He went on to say that if we want to fix the gun problems in the United States, we need to fix our broken mental healthcare system. “Gun control won’t have any impact on crime or criminals, gun control do not address the broken mental health system or the underlying cause of the violence”.
He closed by remarking that he wants to send a message to the state and federal government that we’re a 2A sanctuary because it is “our right to protect our families”.
To start, I would like to say that I am not against the 2nd amendment or the right to bear arms. I am, however, very opposed to our county commissioners adopting any form, be it statement or policy that labels Dubois County as a Second Amendment (2A) sanctuary.
There are systematic ways to change laws with which we disagree, ignoring them is unsafe and sets a dangerous precedent.
As for Commissioner Hostetter wanting to send a message to the Federal Government indicating his displeasure with any gun control measures, I say to you commissioner, find legitimate avenues that do not reflect on all residents of Dubois County.
Twice in his remarks, Commissioner Hostetter stated that gun control laws have no impact on crime or criminals. We could debate statistics all day, however, for time’s sake I will list just a few. Two separate Boston University studies shared similar findings when comparing FBI and CDC datasets. The results show that restricting who has access to guns significantly reduces rates of firearm-related homicides. Universal background checks and red flag laws were specifically studied and both noted to reduce the rates of gun-related deaths. In Indiana, the rate of suicide by gun was reduced by 7.5% ten years after passing a Red Flag law. Another study found that waiting periods of even 5 days could reduce gun homicides by 17%. On the flip side concealed permit carry laws can increase violent crimes by 13-15%.
My response to the Commissioner’s remarks about the shooting on March 22, 2021, in a Boulder Colorado supermarket are that while we have no way of knowing what was going on in the mind of the shooter, it is possible that commonsense gun laws could have prevented the shooter from purchasing the gun in the first place. Ten days prior to this mass shooting, a state court judge blocked the city from enforcing a 2018 Boulder, Colorado ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines. The assault-style weapon purchased legally by the shooter six days prior to the mass shooting did utilize large capacity magazine ammunition.
With regards to the Commissioner’s comments on mental healthcare, I can, in part, agree. Being a healthcare provider myself, I believe I am very qualified to comment on the concerning lack of quality mental healthcare. The Covid pandemic has certainly worsened the mental health of many Americans, and unfortunately, rural areas such as Dubois County are significantly lacking adequate mental healthcare resources. However, citing that fixing mental healthcare would fix “the gun problem” is wholly inaccurate. There are multiple studies that refute such claims.
Two separate studies, one at Duke University and the other at Columbia University indicate that if all mental illnesses in the U.S. were to be cured overnight, violent crime would fall by only 4%. In 2015 only around 22% of mass shooters had diagnosed mental health problems.
While I do not have statistics specific to Dubois County, in the U.S more than 80% of Americans polled support universal background checks and 65% felt that overall gun laws should be tougher.
So Commissioner Hostetter, while it is possible that a majority of Dubois County residents approve of the Second Amendment, it is not likely that the majority approves of Dubois County becoming a 2A sanctuary.
As for the final sentiment that it is our right to protect our families, I agree. I want my children, family, and community safe and protected. Ignoring laws to prevent violent crime has the opposite effect.
It is the job of elected officials to uphold the laws of the county, state, and country in which they live.
— Emily Klein, Jasper