Thanks to Ben Joseph for pointing out the inevitable increase in highway deaths following the deplorable legalization and advertising of recreational marijuana in several states, now to include Vermont. But there's more bad news to come.

At the Legislature's recent public hearing on proposed new gun restrictions, the topic of teen and young adult suicide was repeatedly raised as a reason to further limit gun purchases. Suicide is the current issue of choice for gun-banners since Vermont's firearms homicide rates have remained lowest or near lowest in the nation despite many decades of virtually universal gun ownership and few, if any, restrictive gun laws. The rare murders that have occurred have usually been confined to one-on-one family or acquaintance violence.

However, with the influx of drug gangs from the cities, the glorification of shooting people in movies and video games, and the formerly unheard-of availability of mind-altering drugs such as powerful marijuana, the horror and tragedy of suicide, as well as casual murders, may well increase. Despite much evidence that marijuana precipitates mental confusion, apathy and psychotic disorientation in users and may permanently damage developing brains, legislators rushed into legalization. If suicides increase as a result, those legislators need to take a hard look at themselves and their priorities.

Meanwhile, Vermont's many gun owners, including a large contingent of collectors and hobbyists, will have to keep resisting the escalating attempts to nullify a deliberately exceptional constitutional right in our extraordinarily free country.

Andy Leader

North Middlesex

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