As I write this on Memorial Day, the news is filled with people talking about the loss of loved ones. They may visit a military graveyard or place another teddy bear on a pile in front of a drive-by shooting site. In Sebring, demolition is underway on the SunTrust bank building to make way for another place to remember our fallen neighbors.

At this time of hyper-sensibility and raw pain, I would like to propose a new and different kind of memorial. It would be about a small, but important step that could save future lives in Highlands County.

I propose that the sheriff establish a database on his website that would be available and downloadable by local residents. An Excel spreadsheet would do the job. Each time that a gun is used in a crime in Highlands County, information about the gun, where the criminal got the gun, and any gun laws broken would be entered into the database. Perhaps the sheriff’s department and city police already have this data. If that is the case, it is mostly about transparency enabling this information to be known by the public.

Using the tools available in Excel spreadsheet software, we could look for patterns. If certain gun dealers, pawn shops or others stand out as arming killers or other criminals, responsible gun owners could boycott him even if police could not make a case against them. If patterns emerge suggesting that certain people are acting as straw purchasers to get weapons in the hands of felons or underage buyers, they could be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

This new memorial may not make the pain go away, yet it could help someone else from enduring their own deep sorrow.

James Upchurch

Sebring

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