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Letters to the Editors

Taking away our guns isn't a solution

© St. Petersburg Times
published May 19, 2002

Re: Right to carry guns killing thousands, May 16 letter

Editor: If I were to accept the writer's distorted presentation of handgun fatalities around the world, one might have reason to pause and think that the United States was the most barbarian country. If, however, one was to dig a little deeper, some very different conclusions would emerge.

Let's take Japan, for example. Handguns are banned there. There is a very different culture, and there are no constitutional protections for anyone. Since all handguns are illegal, it's logical that handgun fatalities are quite low. But, if one takes an overall violence fatality rate, adding the total homicide rate from all causes to the suicide rate from all causes, that result is almost equal to the U.S. rate, according to data from the International Journal of Epidemiology 1998, comparing available data from 1993-1994.

Applying the same approach, Switzerland shows a 1994 rate of violent death as 22.80 per 100,000 population (the only accurate method of comparison) while the United States shows a 1993 rate of violent death as 18.57 per 100,000 population. Aren't the Swiss quite civilized? Also, remember that the Swiss enjoy a gun culture whereby automatic weapons are commonplace as each citizen is armed at home in a sort of militia-type defense system (which seemed very effective in keeping any World War II belligerents from crossing the borders).

This same report shows Finland, Brazil, Denmark, France and Mexico with higher violent total death rates than the United States. Are any of these countries any less civilized than England? The individual right to bear arms (carry a firearm) is part of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States, as well as the right to free speech, religious expression, peaceful assembly and the right to a speedy public trial. None of these rights is more important than the other, and none may be abridged. If the letter writer is so enamored of England, then perhaps he should think of moving there. He can grin into one of thousands of big brother cameras there and can join roughly one-quarter of the population which has been victimized by violent crime, according to The International Crime Victims Survey conducted by Leiden University in Holland.

When the streets are crime free, and all the felons and potential felons and murderers are safely locked away, and the terrorists have all surrendered meekly, and all international aggressors have ceased aggressing, and any and all internal threats to freedom have vanished, then, and only then, might we sit down and rationally discuss alternatives to mankind's inherent right to self protection.
-- Lee Hanson, Hudson

Seeing through the smoke screen

Re: Veterans' privacy bill slides through, May 17.

Editor: As a veteran I hope other veterans can see through the smoke screen Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite and the governor have created with a bill he just signed that will allow veterans to file discharge documents in local courthouses, which will supposedly prevent identity theft by criminals and terrorists.

Sen. Brown-Waite is very selective whom she wants to protect from terrorists. It's quite clear veterans are to be protected from identity theft by terrorists but because of her inaction as president pro-tem of the Senate, veterans and the general public do not qualify for protection from the kind of terrorist acts which led to the 9/11 tragedy.

The FBI and BATF have been documenting for decades how felons and most recently how terrorists are arming themselves at our unregulated county gun shows. The governor appointed Sen. Brown-Waite the chairwoman of the Select Committee on Public Security and Crisis Management. Coupled with her status as president pro-tem of the Senate she was in the most powerful position of anyone in this state to protect veterans and the rest of Floridians by preventing felons and now terrorists from arming themselves at our unregulated county gun shows.

Despite having bills by Rep. Nan Rich and Sen. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at hand which would have quickly stopped unregulated sales at our state's gun shows, she refused to even allow the bills to be discussed in her Homeland Security Committee despite being deluged with evidence of this dangerous loophole! After she closed her Homeland Security hearings the INS apprehended a terrorist suspect who tried to buy an assault rifle at a Palm Beach gun show to use in a jihad in Florida.

As a veteran I want to see all terrorist loopholes closed, not just one that panders to a certain group of voters.
-- Arthur C. Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel

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