Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The recent massacre in Breathitt County didn't have to happen.

Stanley Neace, the man all the witnesses say shot and killed 5 people, was not supposed to possess important development buried in a Herald-Leader story.

He had been found guilty of flagrant non-support, a felony that prohibited him from possessing guns.

But, who enforced that law? (or so many others in our society?)

It wasn't enforced, and therein may lie an even bigger tragedy; just as Virginia didnt enforce its gun laws that led to the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech.

It's not enough to get good laws on the books; they need to be enforced..and I hope during this fall campaign season, some of you may ask the candidates about this. As a reporter, let me plead guilty here; I often asked candidates' positions on proposed legislation, but I can't remember ever asking them if they would see that laws are properly enforced, if elected. That includes adequate funding and staffing for agencies charged with that responsibility.

It's all very well to some candidates will,"we just don't have the money." But many of those same candidates will say the most important thing government can do for its citizens is to guarantee their security; so they approve spending on prisons, but not adequate salaries for those in law enforcement, or proper staffing for rural sheriffs. That's not only short-sighted, it's not "security."

Ultimately, it boils down to choices: another prison for example,(with its local jobs!),or funds for crime prevention--broadly construed.

And by the way, is there any doubt Neace was mentally ill? Kentucky has, for years, not adequately funded its mental health programs. That's often debated in Frankfort in the abstract, but the specific, practical result of that debate, and inadequate funds, is what happened recently in Eastern Kentucky.

The recent massacre in Breathitt County didn't have to happen.

"I'm Just Sayin"

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