Soap Box

Stop believing the NRA's lies

To the editor,

When the National Rifle Association talks, Rep. Scott Tipton listens. Why? He received substantial campaign contributions from the NRA. In return, he cosponsored the Concealed Carry Act of 2017 which would allow anyone licensed to carry a concealed weapon in one state to carry it nationwide. The bill has passed the House of Representatives.

The NRA claims that we have a Second Amendment right to bear automatic weapons. Not true! Seven states and the District of Columbia have legally banned automatic weapons. After the Sandy Hook school massacre, Connecticut banned the sale of 183 types of weapons determined to be “weapons of war.” The United States Supreme Court has ruled that banning assault weapons is constitutional because Second Amendment protections do not apply to weapons of war. In other words, the Constitution does not enable we the people to arm ourselves as if we were in the army.

The NRA is wrong and when Scott Tipton listens to them, he is wrong, too. Federal bills to ban assault weapons are now in both chambers of Congress; the House bill is HB 5087. Now is the time for Tipton to listen to the people. Now is the time for Tipton to show integrity. Congressman Tipton, support the assault weapon ban or we will elect a congressman who will.

– James Cunningham, Durango

Take a walk in immigrants' shoes

To the editor,

Close your eyes and imagine being hundreds of miles from all you have ever known. All you have in your life are the clothes on your back, a few coins, maybe a bottle of water, and your children.

You are so desperate to save your family that you walk away from your homeland, toward a land and life promising hope, human rights and safety. You don’t speak the language when you arrive in America, so the lies told you as your children are wrenched from your arms leaves you confused and devastated.

America had become one more nightmare in your life. You are charged as a criminal in a one-minute trial before a corrupt judge that only knows the word “guilty.” You are sent to one prison and your children to another, to be held in cages and to sleep on concrete floors.

You expected to be accepted under American law as an asylum applicant seeking safety. Instead, you are in a rerun of how Nazi Germany operated.

Americans bore the shame of the criminal incarceration of Japanese Americans 70 years ago. As Americans, we swore never again, yet Trump signed a “policy” on April 27, 2018, under the approval of the Republican Party, to send asylum seekers to concentration camps and cages – without their children! Tell me again about “family values” and compassionate conservatives. Where are they?

We are all now personally involved in this human tragedy. Our taxes are paying for this Republican-supported crime. Republican policies have brought American to this immoral, heart-breaking point in our history. Get involved: call the White House and your elected representatives. They are listed in the blue pages of any phone book.

Take a stand, fight back, and remember to vote!

– Susan Troen, Durango

Death with dignity in Durango

To the editor,

You may recall that 65 percent of Coloradans voted for medical aid in dying to make Colorado the fifth state in the nation to legalize this important option for end-of-life care. Did you know that this option may not be available to you in Durango or nearby towns? Mercy Medical Center boasts wonderful accomplishments including five star ratings, “A” grades and being one of “100 Great Community Hospitals.” It also has a “new, state-of-the-art hospice residence” but fails to mention that it does not provide the legal medical procedure for which a significant majority of local residents voted. The fact that the hospice does not provide complete end-of-life care is not the issue since the law allows for hospitals and physicians to opt in or out based on their values.

The problem is that Mercy is prohibiting its physicians from writing prescriptions that would provide their dying patients with this legal, compassionate option. In Oregon and Washington, the first two states to legalize “death with dignity,” the vast majority of patients use their prescription at home while surrounded by loved ones, and 90-plus percent of them are in hospice care. Colorado law prohibits employers from retaliating against physicians

who participate as long as the prescription is not intended for use on the hospital campus. If you have a Mercy physician and want this important option, ask your doctor if they will help you if the need arises. If they say no, ask for a referral to someone who will. For complete information on the Colorado law and resources for patients, visit

– Dr. Lauri Costello, Durango

Tipton should warm up to caucus

To the editor,

I thank Rep. Tipton for his hard work for western Colorado. His consistent message of environmental stewardship parallels my concerns for preserving our clean air, water and land for future generations.

With the cost of wind and solar power now lower than fossil fuels, even natural gas, Colorado is rapidly transitioning the “all of the above” energy mix to a much higher percentage of clean renewables. This transition translates to more jobs and economic growth for our communities in western Colorado for years to come. I welcome clean renewables’ low carbon footprint, especially in light of our recent devastating droughts and costly wildfires exacerbated by carbon pollution.

To continue Tipton’s environmental stewardship, I encourage him to join the bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus and represent western Colorado’s efforts to address the harmful effects of Carbon Pollution. Colorado’s summer and winter tourism have been crippled by a warming climate. Our agriculture is thirsty for relief from water shortages and ever increasing heat. I’m sure his representation in the Caucus would be greatly appreciated by our diverse and hard-working western Colorado communities.

– Ed Atkinson, Citizens Climate Lobby, Durango

The abortion-violence connection

To the editor,

Normalized violence has so many pieces to its puzzle. Our culture is addicted to violence in legends, games, movies, racism, religion and television. Add to that conflict in high-density housing, family stress, lack of resources and more. There are those who claim a right to inflict violence by dominance upon those who are denied the right to dignity and freedom from fear. Witness the government-sanctioned violence upon children on our border.

One more puzzle piece is examined in the 2005 book Freakonomics, by economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The book reveals that in opposition to Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s claim that abortions cause school shootings, it is, indeed, the opposite. Chapter Four, “Where have all of the criminals gone?” correlates case studies where women have gained or lost access to abortion. The loss or lack of access correlates with the rise in violence 17 years later.

Seventeen years ago, George W. Bush instituted a reproductive gag order. His fellow Republicans, state and federal, (who profit from the prison industrial complex), have fought to deny women access to reproductive health care. Seventeen years later, we live with mass shootings and normalized atrocities of government harm to children.

– Stephanie Johnson, Durango