Archived Opinion

Thanks for the quality journalism

Thanks for the quality journalism

To the Editor:

I would like to thank The Smoky Mountain News for the article “Back to the Blue” (July 14-20, 2021).

It told how Haywood County Deputy Eric Batchelor was part of a team summoned to a call for help with a man apparently raving and out of his mind under the influence of fear and possibly hard drugs or alcohol. This could have been a “restrain and calm” operation with little risk and no serious injury — but the man had an assault rifle, and immediately the stakes were raised exponentially. The night ended with the subject of the call being fatally shot and Deputy Batchelor sustaining a severe bodily injury by a bullet from the assault rifle.

Did it have to be that way? This story brings an issue currently under hot debate across the nation down to earth in a small Southern Appalachian community. Is it necessary for assault rifles to be easily available to almost anyone? What are the social benefits of having military-grade weaponry in the hands of a random selection of untrained civilians? What are the dangers and drawbacks? Does owning an assault rifle prevent trouble or bring trouble? These are weighty and important questions, and I found it edifying to see how they played out in Canton.

I greatly appreciated Cory Vaillancourt’s reporting of the story. It was an example of journalism with integrity. He gave us the facts of the matter, clearly and thoroughly explained, and left it to his readers to give an interpretation (unlike some news outlets which give an interpretation of a story and leave it to the readership to provide the facts). Whatever might be wrong with the news media today, the approach that Cory illustrated is the antidote. We are fortunate to have a local publication — and a skilled and community-minded staff — that holds such high standards.

I also want to thank Deputy Batchelor for his service. He said in the article, “That night when I and the rest of those officers were on the way to that call, we were just there to serve,” but I think he served his community equally well when he later spoke of the incident and the shooter without bitterness or rancor: “… I wish to God that he would have just come down and had a conversation.” That is a brave and forgiving heart.

Daav Wheeler


Leave a comment

1 comment

  • I would like to see the author define "assault weapons", or explain why he thinks many civilians own "military grade weapons".

    It would also be interesting to see why he assumes that civilian gun owners are "untrained*.

    Finally, I am curious regarding the author's opinion regarding why the second amendment was written in the first place.

    posted by Paul Yeager

    Thursday, 07/29/2021

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