Sunday, December 23, 2012

Newtown has our hearts, our prayers and our scam artists....

It is with great sadness that I type this missive on the 23rd of December 2012. Only two days before Christmas and scarsely more than a week after the senseless tragedy that took twenty precious children and six valued adults from their families. As you all know, I seldom tackle news events because as a fiction writer I strive to keep my political, religious and other opinions to myself. My readers deserve to know that the writer from whom they are willing to purchase entertainment is not working publicly to undermine their political and other beliefs. Though every citizen has a right to his or her opinion, I believe this platform is not mine alone so I strive not to abuse it. That said, I think several points about the Newtown tragedy should be shared.

First, of course, is that on behalf of my family, my friends and my readers I would like to give our heartfelt prayers and best wishes to those that are churning through such a terrible time. Though we can never know the depth of your pain, we hope that our voices can in someway be of help. Please be well soon.

I also wanted to mention an unusual event I experienced a couple of days ago. While standing in a short line at a local variety store, I heard the cashier discussing a card and several gifts that she was preparing for the families of the Newtown victims. She mentioned that she had found the address on a website and planned to mail her gift package that night. If you have similar plans, I commend you BUT PLEASE BE AWARE there are scam artists advertising in multiple locations. These lowlife, scumbags are all too happy to accept your resellable gifts and cash so that they can fund their illgotten lifestyles. Please be sure to confirm your gift-giving addresses with the Newtown police or other Newtown locals, and be sure to double-check that information.

A final note about this horrific event and the current discussion raging about guns: as previously mentioned, I try not to use my platform for political or idealogical discussions of any type, but the recent suggestion that we fill our schools with armed guards strikes me as dangerous. My Southern Maine city has a salaried police officer dedicated to our various schools, and in that case I absolutely agree it is a fine idea. Official police services across the country are staffed by heros who deserve both our trust and the extra hours. However, what I fear is that private schools, less-well-off and rural communities will hire private guard services, some of which are no doubt wonderful and trustworthy. Unfortunately, many are not. Commercial services are often filled with low-wage, unvetted and sometimes dangerous people. To have these types of questionable people standing within firing range of our children and teachers is unacceptable. Now, I've heard some say that private services will simply need to make sure that their guards are properly hired with background checks, etc.... That is obviously a great idea...until it fails. What happens when several guards turn up sick or injured at the same time? What happens when the company owner falls on difficult financial times because of divorce, medical issues, whatever? I'll tell you what happens, someone calls someone's unknown uncle, aunt or nephew and hands them a uniform and a gun. It's not an intentional infraction but it happens all the time.

Please, let's think about these solutions before we implement them. Our children and families deserve no less.