I’m responding to the article by Jay Lustgarten on Monday, Dec. 17, only because he has deliberately misstated facts while using my name, not because he has anything instructive, or constructive to offer the reader. He conflates two very serious issues in our country today; namely, the opioid epidemic, and gun violence. Now, it’s not exactly clear what Lustgarten’s objective may be in conflating the two issues; it may be out of blatant ignorance, and if ignorance is truly bliss, then Lustgarten must be in a constant state of euphoria.

It is true that I’ve written on the subject of gun violence (several times over the years), as well as the opioid epidemic, some of which has appeared in The Westerly Sun, as well as the New London Day. Lustgarten, et al., will tell you with conviction that guns kill people. Wrong, wrong, wrong Mr. Lustgarten, guns do not kill people, nor do knives, or clubs, or bombs or spears, or whatever. They are all inanimate objects; people kill people. The question is why do people kill, and can we identify potential killers before they act, and how does society ensure that all dangerous weapons are denied them?

First, the CDC reports that 15,549 murders occurred in the U.S. in calendar-year 2017 (that number does not include suicides, which are the majority of gun-related deaths in a given year, and twice the number of murders)! The murderers are clearly (and repeatedly) found in one of the following four categories:

  • The mentally disturbed.
  • Terrorists.
  • Drug dealers and “Gang Bangers.”
  • Other hardened criminals.

Now, it is apparent that Lustgarten believes that if all guns were outlawed, those inclined to commit suicide with a gun would be seriously diminished; how incredibly naïve!?! No, society’s problem is not with the 300 million guns in our country, or the 200 million gun owners, it’s with feckless politicians that refuse to craft legislation to protect society against the perps, legislation that we desperately need, that will allow law enforcement and our courts to do their jobs.

With regard to the opioid epidemic, I don’t know of anyone that believes that we cannot deal with both issues simultaneously. In my letter of April 13, 2018, I made no suggestion about a trade-off. What I wrote about was the gravity of the opioid epidemic, and I made several suggestions of what we may consider to address same. The opioid epidemic appears to be growing exponentially. The CDC has identified 72,000 opioid-related deaths in calendar-year 2017, 30,000 of which were directly related to fentanyl. Fentanyl is one of the most dangerous and deadly opioids on the street (50 to 100 times more potent than heroin). Just a few grains of it can kill. Fentanyl is man-made, it comes primarily from China and finds its way through our porous southern border to distribution centers like South Central LA, Chicago’s South Side, and the East Coast. Beyond the horrific death toll attributable to opioids, the overall long-term damage to our society is incalculable.

In closing, once again we ask, what are our elected representatives doing to address these matters? And to Lustgarten and others that are so inclined, why not write to their U.S. senators and representatives voicing their concerns, as opposed to inane rants that make no serious attempt to understand the issues, let alone to constructively address same?

Mike Latham


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