Opinion: Alcohol vs. Bethel

Alcohol has been known to Bethel for far too long. Citizens go to war with it every now and then, but those who stay to fight, are usually the ones making a difference.
I, for one, am going to take the side of the liquor store. So many people are using the liquor store to blame. They’re just blaming an inanimate object. It’s not like the liquor store is saying, “Come on, just one more drink! You can use it!” It’s the people’s consumption problem that is causing them to consume more alcohol. The problem, people who don’t know how to handle or control their cravings. They think it HAS to be a part of them.
Even if we shut down the store, alcohol will always find its way into Bethel. Just like before it even opened. Unemployed bootleggers will be making more money in a day, than any of the cashiers at the liquor store. Unlicensed alcohol sales price will rise and more violence will happen because most people that have an issue with drinking cannot afford it.
It’s time we stand up and help those in need. To help those who have lost their way of living to alcohol. It’s time we stand up and help those who are lying on the ground. It’s we who can stand up for those who can’t even walk straight. It’s time we stand up and get them help. By that, I mean therapeutic help.
Enakenty Sallison, KLA
Bethel, AK

Gun Rights
Hi, my name is Adam Uttereyuk and I am from Scammon Bay, Alaska. I believe that the gun rights are good as they are because we need to have to hunt and some people have to protect their belongings and family. I don’t think we should make stricter gun laws because we have people that sell guns to people that may have problems. I believe that people that may have mental problems should not be able to get guns and they may hurt someone because of bullying and drama.
I believe that gun laws should be a little strict because some people may get their hands on a gun and think about hurting or creating a mass shooting. I believe that people that might know what they might do should stop them.
The time you can buy a handgun is when you turn 21 from a licensed dealer. That is federal law. Some places 14 or 16 year olds can buy a gun in rural areas, for hunting. The gun law is you can buy a rifle and a handgun at the age of 21.
These gun laws are kind of strict but people can buy shotguns and rifles at the age of 18. To buy ammunition here is at the age of 18 and over. I think that gun laws are pretty bad, because some people sell guns to people that aren’t licensed. This means that people that want to do damage can easily get their hands on a weapon.
We use these guns to hunt, we get a variety of animals. We use our rifles for seal, moose, whales and we use our shotguns for birds. We have many different types of rifles from bolt action, to semi-auto, lever-action and auto.
Adam Uttereyuk
Scammon Bay, AK

Getting More Resources Against Trafficking our Kids
Most Americans and Alaskans think that human trafficking is a problem that happens in other, far-away places. And many are shocked to realize that it’s happening right here, in America and in our state, and that the problem is actually increasing, dramatically.
A disturbing study last year found that one in four girls, and one in five boys, who were receiving services from Covenant House Alaska, reported being victims of sex trafficking. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported a whopping 846 percent increase from 2010 to 2015 of children who were being trafficked — an increase that the organization attributes to the internet.
Make no mistake: the internet has helped advance the world in so many ways. But as sex trafficking has moved from the street corner to the smart phone, it is also being used by people with evil intentions to wreak havoc and ruin lives and lure our children into this kind of hell.
There are great people throughout our state and country working tirelessly on the front lines of this battle. And I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many of these people and the organizations they work for. I have heard from these front-line heroes how it can be a discouraging and often heartbreaking job. But I am always deeply impressed with their dedication and commitment to give all they can to protect our most vulnerable, particularly our children.
It’s important to recognize that in the past three years, Congress has also been very focused on the issue of human trafficking. Working diligently across party lines, we’ve been working hard to get our front-line heroes more tools to stamp out this scourge.
In 2015 we were able to pass and get signed into law the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, in addition to several other bills that have passed the Senate and have been signed into law.
And just this past week, by a vote of 97-2, we passed, and the president is expected to sign, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which gives those working on the frontlines more tools to keep our children from being ensnared into sex trafficking on the internet and more resources so that prosecutors can put more bad guys in jail.
Specifically, the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which I was honored to co-sponsor, will ensure that websites and other institutions that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held legally accountable for their actions. Believe it or not, companies like Backpage.com have been using a legal loophole to facilitate online trafficking of our children, free from prosecution. Throughout the past year we’ve been debating the best way to close this loophole in the Commerce Committee, of which I am a member.
Throughout the process — including in the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — we heard heartbreaking testimony from mothers whose daughters were lured and into this heinous world and ultimately lost to it. Throughout the country, survivors began to tell their own stories. And yet, disturbingly, many big tech companies testified against our bill.
But at the end of the day, we were able to pass this bill to protect our kids.
The proliferation of human trafficking also demands more resources. The bill that we passed also provides more investigators, and more prosecutors to fight these crimes. A new trend to creatively get those resources to the places that need them the most is to give state attorneys general, and front-line prosecutors — who are often closer to the people and have a better understanding of what’s going on in their communities and on their streets — the power to prosecute federal crimes in the area of sex trafficking.
This constructive idea was born from a bad experience in Alaska. When I was the state’s attorney general, there was a high-profile case that my department petitioned the federal government to prosecute under the Mann Act — the federal law that makes it a criminal offense to transport someone across state lines for the purpose of prostitution and human trafficking. My prosecutors had the evidence to put a well-known perpetrator of sex trafficking in jail for violating the federal Mann Act.
But when we petitioned the U.S. Department of Justice to allow us to prosecute the case, the federal government rejected our request.
In that case, justice for a young girl was denied, but I vowed to do all I could do to keep that from happening again.
So I worked to incorporate a provision that I authored called the Mann Act Cooperation Act into the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015, which was signed into law.
The Mann Act Cooperation Act essentially says that if a state attorney general has the evidence to bring a Mann Act violation, the attorney general of the United States shall allow the state to prosecute the case. (State prosecutors don’t typically have the legal authority to prosecute federal crimes).
We now have stronger tools and more resources to go after sex traffickers under the Mann Act. And the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, which we passed this week, gives even more power to local and state prosecutors. Now, we will have thousands of more boots on the ground who can go after the criminals who lure our children into these horrendous worlds.
So to all the bad guys out there who do these things to our children and young adults: You should know that because of the recent changes in the law, thousands of state and federal prosecutors are now empowered to go after you.
And to the good men and women who are working so hard on the front lines to keep our young Alaskans safe from these bad guys: Thanks for all you do. We’ve got your back.
Senator Dan Sullivan
Washington, D.C.