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Over the summer of 2010 I began to ask myself, "what do you do if two of our Rights, as citizens of these United States, are diametrically opposed?" I came to the only viable conclusion: you compromise. Our great Nation works when there is compromise.

Right now most of you will agree with me that our political system is broken. What we currently have is: the politics of destruction; special interest groups who have the power and money to dictate policy; politicians who must spend their time raising money for the next election instead of doing the People's business; and, there are those who are so concerned about getting re-elected they cede their responsibilities to the citizenry to those groups making the loudest noises and the greatest threats.

The attacks that we were inundated with during the this election cycle belittled the democratic process. Shame on everyone involved. And, shame on the political obstructionists who are more interested in gaining and maintaining power than doing the people’s business. During these very difficult times all of us should be supporting our President. The challenge for all of us is, how do we improve upon this imperfect union that we call the United States of America? One thing I know for is not by dividing us.

I can remember when I was sixteen years old there was a day when my father called out to me, "Jackie, come quickly. You have to hear this. It's Winston Churchill. Come listen." I raced to the radio and for the first time heard a recording of Churchill's speech to a Nation standing alone against the greatest evil the world has ever known: "...we shall defend our island no matter what the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; and we shall not surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until in God's good time, the New World, with all it's power and might, steps forth to the rescue and liberation of The Old."

That day my hero was born. Where are our heroes today? jkt

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Domestic Violence

I began researching domestic violence after a man in Whitehall shot and killed his wife and two children and then turned the gun on himself. I was on City Council at the time and I began asking myself what we could do to try to prevent this from ever happening again in our town.

What I learned about this horrific crime was:
-There were 3 guns in the house.
-The man had been arrested for domestic violence years before.
-A 1994 federal law, reconfirmed and expanded by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in February, 2009, prohibits domestic violence offenders from gun ownership. The Court ruled that the law applies even to people guilty of misdemeanors involving physical attacks on spouses, ex-spouses and other household members, regardless of whether the State law used the term domestic violence. And yet, even though he was banned from owning guns because of his conviction, he not only had the guns, he also was issued a concealed carry permit.
-The wife wanted to leave him. He would rather see his family dead than split up.
-Someone knew there was danger, but failed to notify anyone.

Did you know that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime? An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. 85% of domestic violence victims are women. Historically, females have been most often victimized by someone they knew. Females who are 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence. And, one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship.

According to The Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence, "Domestic violence is real violence, often resulting in death or permanent injuries and making home one of the least safe places for victims to be. It accounts for more injuries to women than rapes, muggings, and automobile accidents combined. Unlike crimes by strangers, domestic violence is likely to be repeated and often involves an abuser who will go to great lengths to impede the victim's escape. Domestic violence is a crime that uses violence as a tool to intimidate and control the behaviors of another person. Domestic violence has been the primary factor in almost one quarter of all homicides committed in Franklin County, (Ohio) since 1990."

Access to firearms increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons. In addition, abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse on their partners.

After gathering together all of the facts, I worked up a proposal of some steps we could take to prevent domestic violence in our community. It included:
-The City had left the Domestic Violence Coordinator position vacant to save money. I recommended that someone be immediately hired and that the job description be expanded to include conducting educational programs about domestic violence throughout the community.
-Given the fact that people are hesitant to get involved in family disputes and because involving one's self might be dangerous, I recommended that the City establish an anonymous phone line. I also suggested a city-wide campaign, a "get involved, save a life" campaign.
-Children who live with domestic violence face increased risks: the risk of exposure to traumatic events, the risk of neglect, the risk of being directly abused, and the risk of losing one or both of their parents. All of these may lead to negative outcomes for children and may affect their well-being, safety, and stability. I recommended the formation of a coalition between the City and our schools to offer age-based education about domestic violence, to offer a safe haven within our schools for children in abusive homes and to offer counseling. Children with poor coping skills are more likely to experience problems than children with strong coping skills and supportive social networks.

[Domestic violence misdemeanor convictions and restraining orders were the second most common reason for denials of handgun purchase applications between 1994 and 1998. From 1998 to 2001, more than 2,800 people with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions were able to purchase guns without being identified by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.]

-The Columbus Dispatch put it better than I when it recommended that, "Sheriffs and other officials who administer the concealed-carry permitting system in this and other states should cross-check the names of new domestic-violence convicts and other offenders against these lists. State and local police and court officials should get the names of DV offenders onto the federal background-chick databank. And high-tech tools should be employed to cross-check public records to improve the accuracy of this reporting."
-And, lastly, when I made my recommendations to Council, I asked the very narrow question, "how do you get guns out of the hands of the abusers?"

Violence against women is a national epidemic. I will work tirelessly to end this scourge. -jkt-