Letters to the editor, March 8
NJ gun laws a good start
I am a gun owner and I am glad New Jersey has some of the strictest gun laws in the U.S. We need to go further and require a separate purchase permit for military-style rifles with detachable magazines, like AR-15s. Right now all you need is a firearms ID card to buy one. I personally know someone who committed himself years ago, who now owns one. He got it with a doctor’s note. No, not kidding. If you want a handgun, you need to go to the police station for a permit and get a fresh State Police background check. The NICS check from the FBI is full of holes. Not everyone reports to it. It is not enough, as the tragic events across the nation have proven.
New Jersey is not immune to gun violence, but we haven’t had school massacres. Our strong gun laws are the reason. They are good model for the nation. They need to go further.
Armed security in schools will be nothing but a placebo. There were armed police outside the Parkland school. An armed guard or concealed carry citizen has never stopped a school shooting. Unarmed citizens have stopped 21 according to FBI studies. They wait for the killer to reload (a reason to ban hi-cap magazines) and tackle them. Taking on a shooter armed with a military rifle when you are armed with a pistol is an action movie fantasy. Even with body armor and cover, a single guard would stand little chance. That is why we arm our military with these weapons.
We have a choice to make: do we turn schools into prisons, or do we regulate the “militia” — words straight from the 2nd Amendment, so that battle rifles aren’t easily purchased? Schools are only one place massacres occur in this country. How do we protect malls, movie theaters, and outdoor concerts such as Las Vegas, when ownership of military hardware has been normalized?
The President and others point to video games and the media. We had video games in 1994. We also had a ban on these rifles. There were 50 percent fewer mass shootings during the ban. We had 1.5 million battle rifles in circulation before the ban; now we have nearly 4 million in civilian hands, and twice the shootings. Correlation is not causation, but when they were difficult to procure, the massacres weren’t a near-daily occurrence. Shooters weren’t finding these rifles on “the black market” and shooting up schools. They were going to gun shows and using loopholes. Which instead of closing, we left wide open.
As a former member of the NRA, I will let you know: registration terrifies the general membership. A gun that isn’t on paper can’t be confiscated if a “law-abiding” gun owner is later convicted of domestic violence or a felony. This is the loophole that must be closed. Until then, all the excuses about mental health and “you can’t stop criminals” are moot. We can’t stop them because NRA-sponsored politicians won’t let us.
Mikie Sherrill: my choice for Congress in the 11th
Why wasn’t I paying attention? I really have no excuse. It took the outcome of the last election for me to realize that I was no longer represented by Congressman Bill Pascrell. Instead, I’d been gerrymandered into the 11th. My new rep was Rodney Frelingheysen. He definitely didn’t share my values. Still, I was his constituent. And there were plenty of things that needed discussing; the anti-immigrant stance of the new administration, the congressional attacks on the ADA, the gutting of the EPA, and the tax bill that savages Essex County residents, taxing us twice. I put his number on speed dial, wrote letters, emailed him, and dropped by his satellite office in Nutley. I was buoyed in this by the hard work of a wonderful group, NJ 11th for Change. Now, in large part thanks to them, Rodney is retiring. There will be another Republican running in his place.
I’m a lifelong Democrat. In November, I’ll be voting that way again. In the primary, I’m supporting Mikie Sherrill. Mikie is a Montclair resident with a stellar resume, a graduate of Annapolis who did a 10-year stint in the Navy before becoming a New Jersey federal prosecutor. Her four kids attend public schools in town, just as mine did. She supports an assault weapons ban and common sense measures to reduce gun violence. She’s committed to keeping healthcare affordable and making sure our public educational system is fully funded. She advocates for protecting our environment and working to mitigate the effects of global warming, a key issue here in New Jersey. In November we need a blue wave to wash over Congress and blunt the impact of this administration. I believe that means sending Mikie to D.C. She’ll work to chart a new course for our country of immigrants, one we can all be proud of.
Rejoicing over a revived Bellevue Theater
The closing of the Bellevue Theater last fall was a sad day for me, so much so that I couldn’t bear to read any of the news coverage about it. Seeing that dark, empty marquee during those long winter nights only underscored how much the Bellevue enlivened the Upper Montclair business district and drove business to restaurants. Our kids were able to walk to that theater...priceless.
So the news that the Bellevue may be reborn, thanks to the efforts of local movie-loving folks, came as that rarest of things: a happy shock. A more diverse lineup of films, in-house dining, birthday parties, maybe even a kid’s movie series, and other exciting events to be determined, would make the new Bellevue a destination and keep more active screens in town for the Montclair Film Festival. I know it’s not a done deal yet, but fingers crossed.
Most exciting of all: who knew the old Bellevue had a bar back in the ’30s? As anyone who’s been to Essex Green knows, it’s fun to have a drink while watching a movie. This would be a great use of Montclair’s very few liquor licenses.
A modest proposal, easy for me to say, right? While digital projection is now the standard, let’s consider making just one of the Bellevue’s four screens able to project 35mm film, the way movies were meant to be seen. The Film Forum, Quad Cinema and Metrograph in New York are able to show 35mm, and the Bellevue would be one of the very few, maybe the only, theaters in the state with this capability. There have be some vintage 35mm projectors gathering dust out there.
What’s more, the Bellevue Theater is less than five miles from the Thomas Edison National Historic Park in West Orange. Edison not only built the Black Maria, widely regarded as America’s first movie studio, on the site but is also credited with being an inventor of 35mm film. Let’s honor that legacy. Back to the future.
Many ways to make a difference and go green
Many thanks for the “Green Upgrades” article on Feb. 15. Sustainability is critical. Too big to fail. But often sustainability can also feel too big to succeed. This article helps us see sustainability as achievable. A task we can accomplish, most importantly, here at the local level in our own buildings and homes.
Moreover, the article’s author, Wilma Hurwitz, does a wonderful job in profiling sustainability as process-friendly. Hurwitz helps us see exactly what sustainability means in real terms, vis-à-vis LEED certification, from material choices to interior ventilation, connectivity, and resource use.
Hopefully we’ll see more articles like this in the Montclair Local, helping us appreciate the many ways, local ways, we can each make a difference for the better.
E. B. UNGER