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Letters: Climate change also relates to our immigration problems

Contributed To The Press • Feb 4, 2018 at 12:00 AM

In her Jan. 25 column on immigration and a rational approach to this worldwide problem, Georgie Anne Geyer cites a statement by Father Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame University. In the early 1980s he had called immigration “one of the great sleepers in the world.” In the not too distant future, he had warned, displacement of people could reach overwhelming proportions.

Such as, due to “bad harvests” in India, “a hundred million (starving people might) start walking toward Europe.” What should then be done?

Since then, poor harvests due to severe droughts and heat waves, or their loss in hurricanes, excessive monsoon rains and torrential flooding have indeed unleashed the march of large waves of African and mid-eastern immigrants to Europe. Weather events under the changing climate have now become contributing or initiating factors in the internal or cross-country displacement of millions of people.

Researchers at the University of Hamburg in Germany last year reported the results of a study on factors that precipitate human migration and refuge flows. Analysis of the data on these, from the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center led them to conclude that climate change now forces more people to flee their homes, temporarily or permanently, than all ongoing wars in the world taken together.

In the 2008-15 time span, worldwide storms and heat waves, wildfire outbreaks, landslides and floods made climate refuges out of more than 172 million people. Natural disasters with little or no known association to climate change, like earthquakes, tsunamis and volcano eruptions were catalysts that drove 31 million people from their homes.

As Geyer urges for immigration policy, so also for the climate issue. We must stop “talking” and finally move to doing the energy transitioning or other, available measures to curb climate change before it is too late.

FRANCES LAMBERTS

Jonesborough

No sporting purpose

The Johnson City Press asked the question: “Does banning bump stocks infringe on Second Amendment rights?” This question follows the filing of a bill by Rep. Dwayne Thompson and Sen. Lee Harris which would make it a Class E felony to possess devices that accelerate the rate of fire of semi-automatic firearms.

Federal law tightly regulates machine guns and their parts and prohibits the manufacture of new machine guns for civilian use. To receive a machine gun or a machine gun part, a person must generally submit to an extensive background investigation process that includes a background check and notification to law enforcement. Bump stocks are devices that enable a shooter to discharge 400-800 rounds per minute and they are designed specifically to circumvent the strict controls placed on fully automatic firearms and they have no sporting purpose.

The only purpose is to discharge as many shots per second as possible. This creates a public health risk, as we saw in the tragic shooting in Las Vegas.

Second Amendment rights can be respected, while also regulating firearms to protect the public. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the right to bear arms by citizens to protect themselves and their families, but it has also ruled that the “right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”

This is a clear instance where there exists no acceptable reason to allow the possibility of mass carnage simply to satisfy the wishes of a few individuals to own such a weapon. I applaud Thompson and Harris for introducing this bill to prevent the use of bump stocks and reduce the risk to public safety. Our local elected representatives have a responsibility to protect the health and safety of the citizens of East Tennessee and should support his bill to prevent dangerous people from gaining access to these devices.

VICKI POWERS

Johnson City

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