Regarding “Limits on federal gun research spur states to step in” (Feb. 28): I urge Senators Tillis and Burr and Representative Butterfield to support Senate Bill 834, which would repeal the Dickey Amendment and would authorize the CDC to research gun violence.
With mass shootings increasing in frequency and lethality, we need to understand all of the causes for these tragic events. The bill would allow some of the best trained scientists and social scientists in the country to research this important issue.
Rethinking prison policy
As Criminology faculty who teach at a women’s college, we are concerned by “Prisons reconsider whether to strap inmates to beds during childbirth” (Feb. 27) about shackling women during labor/delivery at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women in Raleigh. The experiences of prisoners, particularly women prisoners, is an issue our students are passionate about.
In the “Women and Prison” course we offer, students examine the many impacts of incarceration on women as well as their children and families. Although the idea of being shackled during labor is shocking, the article omitted the perspective and experience of those who work in corrections.
After reading this article, we followed up with a veteran professional in the NC Correctional System to voice our concern and an important point was made to us. When a mentally-ill inmate with psychotic symptoms is pregnant, she may not able to take medication and may become a threat to herself, her child or the medical staff while giving birth. A policy that simply says “no restraining during labor and delivery” may not fully protect her, her child and the medical staff.
Since there may be circumstances where it is safer for a woman in to be restrained (does it have to be shackled?) this decision should be made in consultation with medical personnel at the hospital and the correctional staff who work with women prisoners in therapeutic as well as security roles. Perhaps the policy should state “no restraints during labor or delivery, except in exceptional cases where a designated group of professionals (medical, therapeutic and correctional) agree that it is in the best interests of safety for all concerned.”
Digging a bit more deeply into this, we confront a critical reality, which is that approximately 80 percent of incarcerated women meet the criteria for a psychiatric disorder. Cuts to mental health programs and community-based resources have turned prisons into mental health providers. We must do better.
Dr. Lori Brown and Dr. Kris Macomber
Faculty members, Department of Sociology and Criminology
Guns not equal
An oft-proven belief exists, “Who controls the vocabulary controls the debate.” In “I’m a mom who owns a gun - here’s why” (Mar. 7) the author uses the word ‘gun’ no less than 24 times and the word ‘rifle’ twice. She wants us to believe that all guns, like people, are equal. Except they are not.
Replace those 24 ‘gun’ word usages with the words ‘assault rifles,’ or with ‘assault rifles with 30 to 50 round rapid-fire magazines,’ or with ‘assault rifles with 30 to 50 round rapid-fire magazines expressly designed for military use to kill humans,’ and the debate changes.
Laws exist preventing sensible gun owners from purchasing machine guns, hand grenades, canisters of poison gas, atom bombs, etc. Why should an exemption exist from these laws for assault rifles?
Gilbert C. Brown
I am often instructed by the opinions offered in your opinion section by Edwin M. Yoder Jr. “The Second Amendment means what it says” (Feb. 28) is another example of his illuminating knowledge of our past and present.
As a longtime student of the history of our nation and our state, I suggest a reading of our first North Carolina Constitution of 1776, adopted 15 years before the nation’s Bill of Rights. Our state constitution opens with a Declaration of Rights adopted on December 17, 1776 – a day before establishing the new form of government. Of the 25 provisions spelled out in our Declaration of Rights, the 17th opens with these words: “That the people have a right to bear arms, for the defense of the state...”
Would that James Madison of nearby Virginia, the principal drafter of our nation’s Bill of Rights, had incorporated that six-word phrase into the 2nd Amendment. It would have made the original intent of the Founders clearer and circumscribed much current legal obfuscation.
William S. Price, Jr.