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Trip down South underscores diversity of thought in nation

Date: 4/24/2014

By G. Michael Dobbs

So I was away to Virginia for a few days for a quick trip to see my family; a trip given to me by my two brothers-in-law. It’s always fascinating to me that as much as this country has been homogenized by chain stores and the decline of regional accents, there are still substantial cultural differences between states and regions.

Right up front allow me to say that I see those differences as a good thing as it adds the to the diversity of culture and opinion in this country. I don’t always agree with those differences, but that is still my right for now.

One of the brothers-in-law recently applied for his pistol permit in Massachusetts and was interested in seeing how much guns cost in Virginia. My brother brought all of us over to a sportsmen’s store called Green Top and it was gun heaven. Upon entering the store there was a table set up for people to register for the National Rifle Association. A raffle was being offered with one of the prizes being a working replica of a Thompson submachine gun.

The folks at Green Top were very friendly and eager to show the shoppers whatever weapon they wanted to see. There were cases of shotguns, rifles, pistols and what some people call “assault rifles.” There were shelves of ammunition as well as the supplies to make your own ammunition – a big difference than in states such as ours.

Many people in Virginia not only have guns but they carry them as one might have a purse or wallet. One local police officer I spoke with said that in his opinion “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

I’m not sure that here in Springfield our problems with knucklehead on knucklehead violence would be solved if everyone was packing. I was told that one reason people in Virginia arm themselves in that fashion is due to the number of home invasions.

One could look at crime stats and draw a conclusion. Do areas with high levels of gun ownership have less violent crime? Or are there other factors that contribute to the number and type of crimes?

Some people are more comfortable living in an area where guns are plentiful while others believe that guns shouldn’t be on everyone’s hip. Which describes your opinion?

Surprising television coverage

I’m writing this column on April 22 and last night WGGB started a series of reports called “Crime and Corruption: The Albano Years.” I was fairly gob smacked as I watched the first installment on Frank Keough. The story, reported by Dave Madsen, detailed the history of Keough’s political rise and fall and ended with a statement that he is still politically active as a consultant.

The report also focused on his involvement in the effort to have the City Council approve of two electronic billboards.

I’m going to watch the entire series as I’m wondering just what is its point? How will it somehow tie the former mayor into the “crime and corruption” or won’t it? Considering he was never charged with anything, does WGGB have new information to present? Or is this an effort to juice up ratings at Albano’s expense?

I would have understood the reason behind the station presenting such a series at the time Albano was running for Governor’s Council, but they didn’t then.

Well, their ploy worked for me. I will be tuning in, just to see what is the point of the series.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.