The Commerce News
August 11, 1999
Must Be Enforced, Strengthened
Nine people are killed by an irate
day trader in Atlanta and three are gunned down by a mad co-worker
in Alabama. The similarities with the Littleton, CO, school shootings
The school shooting got wider press because it was perpetrated
by children against children, but all incidents involved people
not only depressed and defeated by life to the point of suicide,
but also so angry as to want to take others with them when they
died. Nothing better illustrates the fact that our schools are
merely reflections of society when it comes to the people they
educate and the problems they face. If illegal drugs are a problem
in society, they will be problems in the schools; if violence
is widespread in the community, violence will be widespread in
In the wake of the Colorado shootings, virtually every school
district in America reviewed the way it looks at "loners,"
outcasts and students in general. No similar action is proposed
for the workplace, where the violence is greater, the anger deeper
and the individuals better able to inflict carnage.
A common denominator, unfortunately, is the firearm. The long-cherished
American "right to bear arms" has mutated into a means
of expressing anger, getting revenge and venting rage. While
there are any number of ways of committing murder, by far the
easiest and most convenient is with the firearm. When people
can no longer cope with life, they are more often turning to
guns as the means of what amounts to committing suicide
shooting those they perceive to have wronged them and then killing
Public officials, police, psychologists and pundits have expressed
a multitude of theories to explain the recent rampages, but there
is no one single answer. What we do know is that many people
live close to the boiling point; society as a whole is more prone
to demonstrating its rage now than ever before, and more capable
than ever before. We have even coined a term, "road rage,"
to describe people whose anger erupts while they're driving.
Just as doctors must often treat the symptoms of a disease while
they seek the root cause, so too should America start to address
the issue of limiting access to certain firearms. The first step
should be the rigorous enforcement of all current gun control
laws and the extension of the Brady Bill to cover all firearm
sales, particularly those at gun shows and between individuals,
and severe penalties for possession of an unregistered gun. The
next step should be to increase severely the penalties for the
possession of firearms during the commission of a crime, the
unlicensed carrying of a firearm in public and possession of
a firearm by a convicted felon. Furthermore, legislation should
be enacted to make possession of a loaded firearm in a motor
vehicle tantamount to carrying a loaded weapon in public.
Owning a firearm should be considered a privilege, not a right,
the Second Amendment to the Constitution notwithstanding. Those
who abuse the privilege should be severely punished and have
the privilege revoked.
None of these proposed steps would be likely to deter a deranged
person from taking a gun to school or to work, particularly if
the perpetrator had no prior arrests. What they would do is close
a major loophole in the Brady Bill that makes it easy for felons
to purchase firearms, raise the penalty so that some people might
think twice before carrying and using a gun in crime and extend
the registration of guns through subsequent resales.
One theory is arming the public would prevent crime. Quite the
opposite is proving true. It is the proliferation of guns that
makes it so easy for those with criminal intent to acquire the
tools of their trade. America must act decisively to make it
harder and more costly for those who would use guns to rob, intimidate
The Commerce News
August 11, 1999
In Banks County
It became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For years, Banks County officials have publicly worried about
Commerce annexing parts of Banks Crossing. For years, they have
publicly stated that there is a need to protect the busy interchange
from the evil clutches of Commerce.
That Commerce had no designs on Banks County made no difference.
The rhetoric continued.
So Commerce officials figured if they're going to be accused
of coveting Banks County territory anyway, they might as well
Commerce, I am told, will annex Hardy's Store.
Using its power of eminent domain and some under-the-table bargaining,
Commerce will have Rep. Scott Tolbert quietly introduce legislation
in January annexing Hardy's Store and all of the land within
100 feet of it. From that point, the city can annex to the north
until it acquires the old Banks County High School site. The
city plans to turn the site into a minimum security prison to
house detainees sentenced in Municipal Court for such crimes
as noise order violation, disorderly conduct and violation of
the animal control ordinance.
Why Hardy's Store?
"Well, we're losing Wal-Mart, you know," explained
one city official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity.
"Without Wal-Mart, there will be no place in Commerce to
buy fishing lures or shotgun shells. We need a good place, in
Commerce, where people can buy hunting and fishing gear. Hardy's
Store always had a better selection than Wal-Mart anyway."
While the legislative method of annexing non-contiguous property
is suspect, city officials say Tolbert, who is being roundly
criticized for his dealings with Water Wise Inc., will jump at
the chance to stay in the good graces of Commerce officials and
"He's going to need some friends," the spokesman stated.
Rep. Jeanette Jamieson has already agreed to go along with the
plot so Banks County officials will take more seriously her legislation
to allow Homer to annex Banks Crossing. The city annexation will
validate Jamieson's paranoia about the city's plans and virtually
assure her re-election by enabling her to play the "Commerce
card" in all subsequent elections.
The move will accomplish more than assuring Jamieson's perpetuation
in the Georgia House. The new Commerce Detention Center will
provide the city a more stable detainee labor force than it's
been getting from the I.W. Davis facility in Jefferson. Commerce
officials have long complained that the detainee crew for which
it contracts is absent too many days. Detainees would maintain
the city buildings and grounds, including the Streetscape, and
could be used in other roles such as substitute school bus drivers
and newspaper columnists.
In exchange for a promise of two permanent detainee crews, Banks
County Commissioner James Dumas will quietly support the city's
Right now this is all hush-hush, and city officials will deny
everything. But when the legislation goes in the hopper in January,
remember that you read it here first.
It might not be a good idea to admit you believed it, however.