9-2-03

Courtesy of the Arcata Eye, Arcata CA.

 

Gov. Price would favor choice, education , ferrets

 

By Lynette Mullen

Eye Correspondent

Though some may find his mix of liberal and conservative views contradictory, gubernatorial candidate Darin Price says he is simply being honest.“With most people, nobody is completely liberal or conservative,” he observed. What makes him unique, Price said, is his willingness to be open about the mix. “I know I am not necessarily politically correct.”

This week the Eye presents part two of the local Natural Law Party candidate’s stand on the issues.

Gun control

Price remembers purchasing a gun years ago. “I walked into K-Mart, and walked out 15 minutes later with a shot gun and ammunition. It was scary. Even then I knew it was wrong. It was just too easy… I think you had to fill out a form with about four questions, tell them you were not a felon and that you weren’t crazy.”

Though Price sees stricter firearm policies as a positive change, he believes it is every sane American’s Constitutional right to bear arms.“I believe anyone who is legally qualified has the right to own firearms,” he said. Price also believes that owning arms bears a responsibility to know how to safely use them. He said owners should be willing and able to prove it.

“Owning a gun should encumber at least the same responsibilities as driving a car. To get a driver’s license one must pass a written test as well as a road test. To buy a new or used firearm,” Price said, “they should have to complete a written and hands-on test.”

Price thinks establishing a licensing system similar to the driver’s license would address many of the current challenges associated with purchasing guns. “This could eliminate the need for a mandatory waiting period [a required time period between when an individual purchases a weapon and when they can take it home] so that people aren’t treated like a criminal,” he said. Price suggests that under such a system, the waiting period could be waived for those with a current license.

He also believes that a licensing system could require mandatory safety training as part of the renewal process.

The candidate also suggests creating a database that would allow gun merchants to enter buyer information such as a name or thumbprint, and view a prospective buyer’s photo online. This could allow merchants to verify that a purchaser is legally qualified to own a gun. Additional gun license fees, Price said, could help fund the cost of the system.

Death penalty

“I don’t believe the death penalty is a deterrent nor is it cost efficient,” Price said, but added he will not hesitate to sign the death warrant of an individual proven guilty of an egregious crime.

“But there must be absolute certainty in guilt. All due process and appeals should be fair and lawful, and genetic tests should be done for all current death row inmates and future death penalty cases where possible to ensure guilt beyond the shadow of any doubt,” he added.

Price said that compared to the millions spent housing death row inmates and funding their attorney fees, the cost of DNA evidence testing would be negligible. Genetic testing can be used to verify a match of physical evidence to the person charged with the crime.

Education

This college teacher is a strong advocate for educational reform. “As a teacher for the past 15 years at the high school, junior college and university levels, I believe that education is as important as anything else to ensure that people get the most out of life. Every student who graduates from high school must be literate, and schools must develop every student’s full potential through programs that increase intelligence, creativity and problem solving abilities,” he said.

Education, Price conceded, is one area that could use more funding. “But we need to spend the money wisely. Money that goes toward the administration or new buildings doesn’t go to students.”

Price said that schools need funding to reduce class sizes and ensure that every student has a book, desk and chair. “I visited a McKinleyville classroom a few years ago and there were not enough desks for every student. Three students were sitting at a desk made for two and one student had to use a stool. That is absolutely wrong.”

Price added that a lack of educational funding is not the only challenge facing today’s students.

“I am not popular for this, but … teachers can not do this alone. Parents must also take some responsibility in the education of their children,” he said.

Price believes that changing societal values, including the rising divorce rate and more dual-income families, have contributed to the decline of education.

“If a child just has one parent at home, or both parents are working… the child comes home to an empty house… Parents need to be there to support the child, sit at the table with them, even reading a newspaper or doing something else, and help with homework.”

While Price recognizes the economic and time management struggles of busy parents, he said, “Parents need to do the job they signed up for.”

Price recalls holding an open house for a class with 27 students, inviting parents to meet teachers and review student schoolwork, and only six parents showed up. “Teachers can’t fix that,” the candidate said.

Price believes that many kindergarten teachers can predict with up to 80 percent accuracy which children will go on to college and which will go to jail. “If parents are not coming in elementary school, it is not likely they will get more involved as the child gets older,” he added.

The candidate disagrees with the current school voucher system, which allows parents to use government vouchers to pay for private education. “Vouchers reduce funding to public schools and draw the strongest students to private schools,” Price said, which creates even more challenges for the underfunded public schools.

Abortion

The pro-choice candidate said he hopes that many consider adoption when facing an unwanted pregnancy, but knows that the emotional and physical risks of having an unwanted child can make this unrealistic for many.

“I wish there were never a need an abortion,” he said. “I don’t believe anybody ever wants an abortion. It is a terrible, hard choice to make, but I believe it is wrong to tell a woman what she can and cannot do. And it is wrong to force someone to have a child they don’t want.”

The candidate has already paid for his honesty regarding this controversial topic, receiving nasty e-mails for his pro-choice opinions.

Ferret legalization

Price was surprised to field press inquiries regarding his stance on legalization of the domestic ferret in California, which is- one of just two holdout states which maintain prohibitions. Popular as pets among HSU students, the playful little weasels inspire giggles on the part of Fish and Game officials who are supposed to enforce the archaic anti-ferret statutes against critters which are openly sold in pet stores in Oregon. An estimated 500,000 ferrets in California make their owners liable for up to a $1,000 fine and a year in jail, though the law is rarely enforced.

Price is staunchly ferret-friendly. “I am for the legalization of ferrets or at least removing the law prohibiting them. The government should not be interfering with such trivial matters that really do not impact our health or safety.  I know of several students with ferrets who love them and say they make great pets.”

Price’s pro-choice ferret stance is a touchstone to the bigger picture of government over-regulation. “The real problem is that we have 120 people in Sacramento who have the full time profession of thinking up and making more new and unnecessary laws on a daily basis… This ferret law is just one example of stupid laws we have and how money is wasted on enacting them… So I am for people having the right to own a tame ferret if they choose. I am for less government intrusion into trivial matters involving our personal lives, I am against the wasting of money to both make these types of stupid laws and against the resources used to enforce them.”

Solutions

While the candidate prepares HSU class curricula, he is also developing solutions to some of the state’s most pressing problems. Next week, the Eye joins the 80 to 90 others who daily ask Price for his opinion on everything from state bond initiatives to welfare fraud.

Editor Kevin L. Hoover contributed to this story.