On handguns and hamburgers


To the Editor:

Strange things happen at election time. I saw a TV ad by a politician with a plate of hamburgers and a pistol. I think he was making the point that the government might take away his hamburgers and pistol. I have sympathy for him. I have had guns taken away from me.

My first gun was a double barreled shotgun. I got it at Christmas in 1937. It had corks stuck in both barrels. Strings tied the corks to the barrels. I liked to shoot it so the corks hit my older sister. Then when I was 5, my father gave me a BB gun. I had fun shooting around the neighborhood. Both these guns disappeared within days of receiving them. I never saw them again. 

My next gun was a .22 H&R single shot rifle. I took $14 I had earned delivering newspapers, plunked it on the counter of a hardware store, and walked out the proud owner of a real gun. There were no forms to sign, no questions asked, no instructions on how to use it. My favorite shooting range was a nearby swamp where I popped away at snakes and turtles in the distance. One day people across the swamp yelled for me to stop shooting. My bullets were ricocheting off the water and hitting near them. I did not know there was a public path on the other side of the swamp or that bullets would ricochet off water. Luckily, I never shot myself or anyone else. Perhaps someone should have taken this gun from me.

My next experience with guns was in the Army. I first learned about gun safety before firing rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns and even a .45 caliber grease gun that I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with. When I ended up in an armored infantry battalion, the Army assigned me a rifle all my own. It was an M-1 thirty-aught-six, serial number 70013. But when I left for civilian life, the Army wouldn’t let me take it with me. You might say the government took it from me.

Since then I have owned and used a number of firearms and have kept only one, a rifle to keep varmints out of the garden. I have never been afraid that the government would take these guns from me.

If this politician with a plate of hamburgers and a pistol would meet me in Sylva, I would be delighted to buy him a hamburger. I think he worries too much about the government taking things away from him.

John Bell, Cullowhee

Elections in N.C. are safe


To the Editor:

Are North Carolina elections really safe? Could the machines be shoddy and untrustworthy? Can the machines be hacked? Why don’t we use paper ballots?

The answer to these questions is: It is true that there have been serious issues in other states, but North Carolina has worked hard to build safe systems.

VOTING MACHINES: All North Carolina voting systems, including machines, are tested in certified laboratories before they are adopted, and they are monitored as long as they are in use. The machines were adopted after review from all boards of elections (or to put it another way by 500 citizens of both parties.)

NO INTERNET: By state law, no North Carolina machines are ever connected to the internet. Also there is no evidence that any election system or voting system has ever been the target of a successful cyber attack.

PAPER BALLOTS: All North Carolina counties use paper ballots. You first mark your ballot using the machine, then print it, check for accuracy, and finally insert in the tabulator yourself. Your paper ballot is locked securely in the tabulator box where it can be examined in the case of a recount or audit.

These are just some of the many security measures in place in North Carolina. For a full list of North Carolina security practices and more discussion, go to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, 10 Facts about Elections at ncsbe.gov. You can also call the Jackson County Board of Elections.

In this election we do need to be alert to bots, trolls and false information, but we do not need to worry about North Carolina’s voting machines.

Don’t let fear and disillusionment keep you from voting.

Jean Ellen Forrister, Sylva

Forrister is a board member of the Jackson County Board of Elections.