Second Amendment deserves same support as the First
Letters to the Editor
Published March 16, 2005
Re: Our gun laws are too lax, editorial, March 14.
It is truly amazing that the Times will defend the First Amendment rights of any group - communist, terrorist or otherwise - yet support the trampling of Second Amendment rights on a wholesale basis.
Rather than calling for our gun laws, which are already too strict, to be tightened so that anyone who is on a so-called terrorist watch list will be refused the right to legally purchase a handgun, the Times should be questioning why these U.S. citizens were placed on a watch list to begin with. Doesn't this have the taint of profiling?
Those citizens on the watch lists apparently haven't commited any felonies, or they would already be in jail. Why shouldn't they have the same rights as other law-abiding citizens? Given the number of letters that I've written to presidents, senators, members of Congress and others (including the Times), I'm probably on someone's watch list. That doesn't mean I've committed a crime, felony or otherwise.
Perhaps the Times can strengthen its case by listing the number of incidents in which known terrorists have killed someone by using a handgun in the past few years. I can't think of any in our area. And in the nearly three years I have lived locally, more citizens have died from being shot by local law enforcement than by terrorists.
Give us a break: Support the Second Amendment with as much fervor as you support the First Amendment. Without either of these, the other will disappear.
-- Larry Fox, Largo
Worry about rights at home, too
Re: Our gun laws are too lax, March 14.
The terrorist watch list is just that: "possible persons of interest." It is not concrete information that the person performed a terrorist act.
So who exactly is on this list and why? With your paper concerned so much for the rights of detainees in U.S. facilities in Cuba, I'm confused about why you would want to violate someone's constitutional rights here on U.S. soil.
What always amazes me about the liberal crowd is how they believe so strongly in the First Amendment but somehow the Second does not appeal to them. They frown at the thought of a police state or take displeasure at the military, but would entrust this same crowd as the only legally armed force - and for some reason they think our society will be safer.
-- John T. Wilson, Tampa
Why do we let the killing go on?
If the government is so concerned about the health of its citizens and it educates us to stop smoking cigarettes, for example, why doesn't it do something about the rampant availability of guns in this country? When is America going to wake up and get serious about meaningful gun control rather than accepting senseless murder after murder, accident after accident? Why not take some dramatic steps to curb dangerous firearms being available to anyone who wants one?
The United States has more death by firearms in a given week than anywhere in the world, and we let it go on. There is no excuse not to be smarter than that, and just because of a constitutional amendment formulated in a different era we shouldn't be precluded from using some common sense in our federal and state legislatures.
-- Theodore Lowrie, Riverview
Focus on controlling handguns
Re: Our gun laws are too lax, editorial.
Any sane person would agree that control over the purchase and ownership of assault weapons and high-powered rifles has to be aggressively tightened. Yes, there are tragic, grim slaughters that generate bold headlines, when these weapons are used in mass killings. However, the killing and shootings that we seem to read about in our paper or see on the TV news every day, more often involve a handgun.
Aside from those few who would qualify for a concealed weapons permit or cowboys shooting rattlesnakes from horseback, what reason would anyone, especially someone in a metropolitan area environment, have to possess a handgun?
Let's move past the focus on assault weapons and go after the primary weapon of choice for killers in our communities, handguns, and go after them hard, and now.
-- Tom Iaquinta, Seminole
Not a time to criticize
Re: Shooting in Atlanta courthouse.
My heart goes out to the employees who were either injured or killed in Atlanta. It's obvious that there was a breakdown in security procedures, which will now be rectified. It is not the time to criticize but to ensure this does not happen again.
-- John M. Chalakee, New Port Richey
Oppose arctic oil drilling
This week the U.S. Senate will vote on a key measure that could open the door to oil drilling off Florida's coastline. Specifically, the Senate will take action on a proposal to allow drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
And If drilling in the arctic refuge is approved by the Senate, then Florida may well be next. That's because senators who support the oil companies' attempts to open Alaska's protected areas to drilling, are now employing bolder tactics to get the Senate's approval. Despite their past inability to secure the 60 votes they need, these senators are now attempting to sneak their Alaska drilling measure into the budget. By doing so they're restricting debate on the need for a comprehensive national energy policy. If their attempt is successful then what's to stop them from using the same tactic to allow drilling closer to Florida's beaches?
Imagine having such an important issue, affecting millions of Floridians, decided without a hearing or extensive debate. Sadly, that could happen if the oil companies get their way.
Both proponents and opponents agree that allowing oil production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will not make our nation less dependent on foreign oil or lower gas prices. In fact, the refuge would only provide a six-month supply of oil that would take 10 years to get out of the ground. Clearly, drilling in the arctic refuge is not a substitute for a comprehensive energy policy to reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.
I'm encouraging Floridians to make their voices heard on the issue of drilling in the Alaskan refuge. If you love our pristine coastline, then you must oppose this effort to expand drilling in protected areas of Alaska by calling my colleagues in the U.S. Senate. So, Florida, oil drilling in Alaska really does matter - especially if you're like me and enjoy long walks on our world famous beaches.
-- Bill Nelson, senior U.S. senator from Florida
[Last modified March 16, 2005, 01:31:14]
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