Tuesday, February 23, 1999

Feary’s death should
spur drug efforts

WITH the suicide of Mackey Feary Jr., the curse of drugs has taken a talented musician from the local entertainment scene and provided another sobering example of the consequences of drug use. Feary was found dead in his Halawa prison cell Saturday. He was 42.

Feary was convicted of criminal property damage and possession of crystal methamphetamine after attacking his wife in the Waimalu Shopping Center in 1996, smashing a window in her car and demanding that she give him money. He was sentenced to one year in prison and five years' probation.

After six months he was released and joined Victory Ohana, an organization that helps former inmates. He also resumed performing. Last October he appeared in court on a motion that his probation be revoked after he twice tested positive for crystal methamphetamine. He was given 90 days to complete a residential drug program.

However, a week later he violated a temporary restraining order involving his wife. In January his probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Feary had attempted suicide once before, in 1996, after his arrest for attacking his wife, in the Pearl City police substation. A prison official said he had shown no suicidal tendencies recently and was not on a suicide watch. He should have been.

This is only one of many tragedies associated with drug abuse. Most of the victims are less prominent, but their stories are no less pathetic. Mackey Feary's death should lead us to redouble our efforts to combat the production and distribution of drugs, educate young people about the dangers of drug use and provide treatment for its victims before they are beyond help.


India, Pakistan

TENSIONS between India and Pakistan soared after both countries conducted nuclear weapons tests last May. But the strain seems to have eased with the meeting of their prime ministers, Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif and India's Atal Bihari Vajpayee. It was the first visit to Pakistan paid by an Indian prime minister in 10 years.

The agreements signed after two days of talks in Lahore were limited in scope but significant nonetheless in view of the lingering distrust on both sides. They are aimed at reducing the risk of an accidental escalation of hostilities, a risk that was dramatized by last year's tests.

The two governments agreed to notify each other of ballistic missile tests and of any accidental, unauthorized or unexplained incident that could trigger a nuclear conflict. They also pledged to review and upgrade their military communication links to a "fail-safe and secure" level and agree on the prevention of military incidents at sea. Experts will work out the technical details of the planned measures in meetings before the middle of this year.

It is particularly difficult for Sharif to make concessions because of the Kashmir dispute. Kashmir, which has a predominately Muslim population, is ruled by India. Pakistan supports an armed rebellion against Indian rule in which 10,000 people have died during the past decade. Muslim groups, fearing that Islamabad may shelve its long-held stand that Kashmir is the core issue in relations with India, staged violent protests in Lahore during Vajpayee's visit.

The documents approved last weekend balanced the interests of both countries by accepting the need to talk on all issues, including Kashmir. But the conflicting claims to the territory remain far from resolution. Until a solution to that dispute is found, the threat of war between India and Pakistan will remain.


Guns in crimes

WHILE manufacturers of firearms are under attack for allegedly catering to urban gangs, gun purchasers have undergone unprecedented scrutiny by a federal program. The program, which traces guns routed illegally into the hands of young people, has resulted in numerous prosecutions of drug traffickers. The effort has been an effective step against gun violence and should be expanded.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative traced guns used in 76,260 crimes in 27 cities over the past three years. It found that one-third to half were purchased from licensed dealers by "straw" intermediaries for the real owners. About one-third of the recovered guns were stolen, while the others came from private sellers not required to demand identification or subject buyers to background checks.

Officials said 25 percent of the guns moved quickly from sale to recovery by police, indicating they were bought legally, then resold. In the cities studied, between 25 and 36 percent of the firearms recovered from juveniles were bought from straw purchasers, while 32 to 49 percent of the firearms were recovered from offenders aged 18 to 24.

As might be expected, semiautomatic pistols comprised more than half of the guns recovered in each city.

The traces led to the arrest of 397 people who face prosecution as gun traffickers.

Gun-control opponents often have complained that authorities should pursue gun-toting criminals rather than regulate the sale of firearms. The most effective approach to the problem of gun violence involves both regulation of gun sales and prosecution of crimes in which guns are used.

President Clinton has proposed that Congress add 10 cities to those already included in the program. Honolulu is not among them, perhaps because of its distance from mainland paths of gun trafficking. However, tracing of firearms used in Honolulu's crimes could be useful in assessing the effectiveness of local gun control laws.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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