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Friday, March 3, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 108

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Addicts shouldn't have access to guns

Melanie Melançon

A classroom full of six-year-olds has been emotionally scarred for life. Kayla Rolland is dead; another youth is on a long, dark road. President Clinton was quoted in the Houston Chronicle, saying "we simply haven't done everything we can do to keep guns away from criminals and children."

Authorities are trying to find a way to blame someone and looking into pressing charges against adults at the "flophouse" where the wayward six-year-old lived. But the highest charge possible is manslaughter, and that will come only if it can be proved that the person in charge of the gun was responsible for gross negligence -- that someone knowingly failed to prevent a danger. This has a maximum sentence of 15 years. Rolland probably had a good 80 left. The young boy may have 80 left, but they will hardly be good.

In this situation I'd say it's hard to find where to begin accounting for the negligence. Do you blame the gun owner, if you can call him that, because the gun was stolen? The person who probably traded the stolen gun to another adult for drugs?

The responsible party of the building who allowed it to become a flophouse?

The father for being in jail for theft and not bettering his family? The mother for being an addict and putting her family in that house?

Or the system that allows drugs like crack and cocaine and places like these flophouses to slip by?

These days you don't know whether to feel safe or concerned when you see a cop on the streets, because all you hear is that they're abusing power and not keeping the streets safe. If everyone involved knew that it was a flophouse, why had nothing been done before?

Why is there more talk of gun control instead of doing something about inner-city drug problems that lead to situations like these?

President Clinton and our politicians are treating the symptoms and not the illness. But of course, everyone involved with that house was helping to keep it going. As they say, if you aren't against it, you must be for it.

Perhaps the police really didn't know about the place because no one wanted to rat on friends or send other people to jail. But in truth, if you send all the dealers to jail, no one can supply the drugs. At least for a time, the addicts will have to go without or find somewhere else to turn.

I implore you to help stop tragedies such as this. Let us help each other. Call the police if you are aware of drug activity. If you have a friend whose dealer puts out cocaine, crack or heroin, call the authorities on them.

I know you don't want to be responsible for sending people to jail, but think about the lives you'll save by stopping even one dealer for just a little while. Who knows? Maybe he'll lead the police to someone really important and eventually rid the streets of people begging for crack money.

Being realistic, it's going to take more than "just say no" to straighten out the kids and our system.

Melançon, a post-baccalaureate student, 
can be reached at mrm58655@bayou.uh.edu.

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