Commentary, Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts

This week marks two years since the deadly assault on the Capitol Building and on our democracy.  Fortunately, both the Capitol and our democracy survived that assault, albeit with scars and some trepidation.  The videos from the siege burn in memories, and the televised hearings by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol brought new information and insight into the machinations of the Trump Administration that set up and supported the assault by our own citizens.  Sometimes it was hard to turn away from the revelatory hearings; other times, it was difficult to imagine that officials in leadership positions could be so venal.  Fortunately, there were some heroes among the witnesses.  Who can forget the elections worker and her mother, from Georgia, who expressed how they were just doing their jobs, yet subjected to death threats?  Or the Republican chairman from Maricopa County, Arizona, who demonstrated an ethical approach to election integrity, at the risk of his seat? Or White House aide Cassidy Hutchison who, in multiple appearances, electrified the committee with her descriptions of White House officials’ activities during the riot?

The assault on democracy and elections continued in last November’s elections, with wild accusations and multiple legal challenges in many states, and many victories by razor-thin margins in both parties.  The ballyhooed “red wave” turned out to be a trickle, but indicated that the nation still is split, nearly down the middle.  The next 22 months leading up to the 2024 presidential election provide ample time to reiterate the reasons why our democracy was created and how to retain and maintain democratic ideals more than two centuries after the foundational documents were adopted.  Some recent court decisions seem to be peculiar interpretations of those foundational documents; just because some rights were not mentioned specifically in the Constitution should not mean that millions of people are limited in their privacy or ability to choose their health care, spouse, or where to live.  Rather than a red wave, we should be advocating and supporting a red, white, and blue wave.  The American flag flies over us all, not just a few. 

As the New Year begins, the Fairfax County Police Department has provided a new information campaign for an existing effort – the Firearm and Ammunition Safe Disposal Program.  Police often are called to assist residents when they have firearms or ammunition they no longer wish to keep.  Sometimes these items belong to an aging family member, or are from military service, or simply not wanted in the house anymore.  The quickest and easiest way to get rid of such items is to call the non-emergency police dispatch number – 703-691-2131 – and request an officer respond to your home.  Leave the weapon and/or ammunition in a safe location, and direct the officer to it.  The officer will ensure that any gun is unloaded and rendered safe before taking possession of it.  Although not a preferred method, residents also may deliver a gun or ammunition to their local police station for disposal. Call the station first to notify them of your intentions, place the unloaded weapon in the trunk or rear of your vehicle, separate from any ammunition.  Be sure to have identification with you.  Do not bring the weapon or ammunition into the station.  You should speak with the front desk staff, and then an officer will be called for assistance.  Always treat every weapon as if it is loaded; keep it pointed in a safe direction, and keep your finger off the trigger.  Getting rid of dangerous items from one’s household is a great New Year’s resolution!