OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 01/23/11

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Take a look at town that mandates guns

The first letter in the Jan. 16 U-B Our Readers' Opinions confirmed that it was a forgone conclusion that gun control advocates would try to use the Tucson shootings to their advantage rather than focus on the deranged individual responsible. It is apparent laws alone cannot stop a determined individual from carrying out atrocities against others.

Maybe we should reconsider the town of Kennesaw, Ga., which, on May 1, 1982, passed an ordinance that made it mandatory for each household to own and maintain a gun, as well as ammunition. The following is taken from an associated content article found by keying "gun ownership required" for an internet search:

"... Expectations were for the town to convert back to the Old West-style of handling disagreements with ruthless shoot outs. This expectation never happened. In fact, more than 25 years after the ban, not a single resident of Kennesaw has been involved in a fatal shooting - as a victim, attacker or defender. There has been one firearm-related murder but not from a resident of Kennesaw. Since the ordinance, no child has ever been injured with a firearm in Kennesaw. Crime dropped after the ordinance and the city has maintained an exceptionally low crime rate ever since, even with the population swelling from 5,000 in 1982 to approximately 30,000 today. The truth is crime has plummeted and population has soared."

About the same time Morton Grove, Ill., passed an ordinance banning hand guns from anyone other than peace officers. According to the same article, "In comparison, the population of Morton Grove ... has dropped slightly and the crime rate has increased, especially right after the ban."

Jim Davison

Waitsburg

Anti-gun is anti-American

Sure seems like a lot of people want to jump on the bandwagon about gun control when a tragedy happens involving a gun.

So many people seem to be very uneducated about guns, they have no more than tunnel vision. I'm speaking of the fact that so many people are quick to blame the gun when in fact they should be concentrating on the human-error factor.

It doesn't take rocket science to know that a gun is an inanimate object and can't do a thing until a human picks it up. So we need to control the human error rather than control guns of law-abiding citizens. The gun is not a killing machine, the human is.

These statements will probably ruffle some feathers of the under-educated people regarding gun control. I'm a veteran and ex-police officer and I really believe society needs to police the human factor even if some say they do have rights because they can't think of anything else to say. Check history and find out for yourselves. I feel anti-gun is anti-American.

Irvin L. Powell

Milton-Freewater

Earned Income Tax Credit has gone up

For many of us, the onset of tax season fills our hearts with dread, so it was calming to read the recent column by David Tucker explaining some of the changes in this year's filing process.

One important additional item that Mr. Tucker should have mentioned, however, was that the value of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit has gone up this year in nearly all categories.

Many people know that the EITC is a refundable credit for working families. Many people don't realize, though, that the credit is worth on average about $2,000 for Walla Walla households that choose to claim it. Last year the credit was worth more than $7.7 million to Walla Walla County residents. That's not just pocket change!

Perhaps even more impressive is that, according to IRS data, it is estimated that there may be an additional $1 million of unclaimed EITC dollars for local families who are eligible but who do not file their taxes. Thus, all area residents are encouraged to visit the IRS's web site to learn more about the credit, whether they might be eligible, and what the value of the credit might be for their particular family size and income.

I appreciate the U-B making sure your readers are prepared for this important, and often stressful, annual ritual. Being informed about the process and the opportunities it provides is the best way to make the most of this aspect of our citizenship.

Noah Leavitt,

Walla Walla

Infringing on privilege to collect stones

I'm more than a little embarrassed to admit I own a gun. OK, it's an 1896 octagonal barrel .22 rifle my grandfather owned as a kid. Today, it's wrapped in swaddling clothes, hiding on my top bedroom shelf, no ammunition for it in the house.

Honestly, I'm not sure where I'd go to buy ammunition. They don't sell it at Safeway, or Ace Hardware, or any of the other shops I frequent. This doesn't bother me, because I also don't have any idea where I might go to shoot the danged thing. I also have no idea what I might shoot at.

In high school, I used this same gun to decimate a few ground-squirrel colonies. Some friends and I strolled into a thicket one sunset and massacred the local bird population, none of which offered any armed resistance.

Later, I guess I outgrew my need to pull a trigger and make things go pop!, and I didn't see that gun again until my father died and I inherited the it.

Now, it's a museum piece without a museum.

Last year, one of my neighbors was shot by thugs as he walked home from the Metro station. This is an upper-middle-class suburb. I thought for a moment about what I would have done, and realized that I'm no Quick Draw McGraw, and don't aspire to be.

I guess I would have taken the bullet and survived (as my neighbor did). Or not survived as 11 people in my neighboring county did in the first 11 days of the new year.

You've gathered that I'm not a hunter. God bless them, every one. My ancestors were here in the 1660s, and Lord only knows what they would have done without reliable firearms.

In the 1990s, I learned that the government maintains quarries as a part of the National Forest system, and I needed some slate to construct a patio. I drove up into the pristine forest to check out the supply and, coming upon a quarry, found it full of people in camouflage outfits emptying extended clips of automatic weapon fire into the space. I left.

I acknowledged as I fled that these people had the constitutional right to empty extended clips of fire power into that quarry. I noted, though, that exercising this right infringed upon my privilege to collect some stones.

David A. Schmaltz

Tacoma Park, Md.

Where public schools get it wrong

It's been long held that the greatest economic downturn in America's history is a clear-cut example of the failure of capitalism. We're told that "thorny speculators" and an "unequal concentration of wealth" are to blame for the decade long depression.

To make matters worse, our "hands-off," "laissez-faire" President Hoover only worsened the conditions by not intervening into the market place. The Great Depression is being taught this way each year.

They weren't called the "Roaring '20s" without reason. Credit was flowing freely across the country. Americans were entering an age of consumerism. In 1919, there were just 6.7 million cars on the road. By 1929, that number had increased to nearly 27 million. Radios had become a new household must.

Our newly created Federal Reserve was expanding the credit by establishing below-market interest rates (from 6 percent to 1.5 percent, the lowest rate in the nation's history at the time) and through lowering reserve requirements to member banks. The total money supply increased by 63 percent, while gold inflow only increased by 15 percent. This in turn generated the boom; from 1921 up until the stock market crash of 1929. As we all know, all bubbles are destined to pop.

President Hoover, the "non-interventionist," stood idly by doing nothing after the market crash; so we're told. Wrong.

In Hoover's memoirs, he mentions how Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon advocated for a policy of liquidationism, to let the free market run it course. This is where the modern day Keynesian economist stops, but if they were to turn the very next page of Hoover's memoirs they would read that Hoover rejected Mellon's advice.

Hoover would later go on to establish the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Home Loan Bank, ensure high wages were maintained, subsidize farming and increase public works spending (federal spending increased by almost 50 percent over the two years after the crash). Is this really laissez-faire?

Current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke took a moment to make the following statement at Milton Friedman's 90th birthday: "Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."

It's worth mentioning that Milton Friedman, prominent Nobel Peace prize winning free-market advocate, blamed the Fed for the Great Depression.

Dylan Locati

Walla Walla

It was Loughner, not weapon, who caused crime

A recent letter to the Union-Bulletin by Annie Capestany stated that the gun used by the Tucson shooter was not necessary for self-defense. She further stated that it wasn't a hunting rifle, but was a killing machine. A terrible tool intended for war, and designed for assassinations.

I wonder if the thousands of police agencies that issue the Glock know this? Perhaps they are going to war? I don't think they are assassins.

The Second Amendment to our U.S. Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, so trying to link hunting as a reason to own certain weapons is silly. The Glock pistol is used by literally thousands of citizens for home and self-defense on a daily basis. If people with the ideology such as Ms. Capestany had their way, no one but the police and military would be allowed to own firearms of any kind.

It is time for society to hold people accountable for their own actions. It wasn't Fox News, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin or any other news personality who influenced Jared Loughner. Neither was it the Republicans, Democrats or Tea Party members.

It wasn't "bitter, ugly words spewing from the mouths of politicians" that caused him to kill. He is a sick, twisted individual who perpetrated a horrific crime. It was he, not the weapon he used, that caused this terrible crime.

Scott Gilmore

Milton-Freewater

The political left shows its double standard

It didn't take long for some Democrats to use the Arizona shootings as an excuse to point judgmental fingers at conservatives. It's not surprising. Attacks on conservatives are nothing new.

According to numerous left-wingers, conservatives have created an atmosphere of hate. Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Bill O'Reilley are presented as examples of venomous behavior that caused the shooting.

Instead of putting the responsibility for the carnage in Arizona squarely on Jared Loughner's shoulders, arrogant lefties, comfy in their glass houses, throw judgmental stones, while touting themselves as the embodiment of compassion. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds!

Sarah Palin is accused of having blood on her hands because she "targeted" Democrat Gabrielle Giffords' district for a Republican victory. Palin used "crosshairs" on her strategy map. Democrats have targeted Republican districts for years, using "bulls eyes" on their maps. But, Loughner shot Rep. Giffords, so the lefties feel justified in blaming Palin for the crime. Does reasonable thinking and fairness exist in their world?

The champions of civility don't practice what they preach. Feb. 18, 2009, left-wing radio show host Mike Malloy said, "Rush Limbaugh needs to choke to death on his own fat." Feb. 24, 2010, MSNBC's Ed Schultz, proclaimed, "We ought to rip Dick Cheney's heart out and kick it around and stuff it back in him." September 2009, Montel Williams chuckled that Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachman should "slit her wrist."

Jan. 14, 2011, comedian (I use the term loosely!) Bill Maher, while hosting his show, "Real Time" on HBO, arrogantly mocked the tea party members with, "(T)he Founding Fathers would have hated your guts … and what's more, you would have hated them. They were everything you despise. They studied science, read Plato, hung out in Paris, and thought the Bible was mostly ..." I've purposely left out Maher's disrespectful, nasty word choice!

I can easily cite more examples of the left's obnoxious double standard. There just isn't enough space to do that, at least not in this letter!

In closing this letter, I offer this: Striving for civility is fine, unless it's used as a disguise for attempts to silence those who disagree. Condemning vitriol is noble, unless those doing the condemning are themselves vitriolic!

Roberta Bardsley

Walla Walla

Support legislation for elderly, disabled

With Washington facing budget deficits at historically high levels through the next biennium, the governor and Legislature must consider budget cuts that will significantly affect virtually all services and programs. No program or service will be exempt from scrutiny, including services provided to our most vulnerable citizens, the elderly and disabled served in skilled nursing homes like Mt Si Transitional Health Center.

We have been a skilled nursing home provider in this community for over 25 years, caring for 100 residents and employing 132 full- and part-time staff. We are challenged every day to respond to ever changing federal and state regulatory requirements, while assuring that our residents receive the highest quality of care, provided by experienced and skilled employees.

We are expected to meet these challenges even though reimbursement rates for low income Medicaid eligible residents have been reduced year after year and now average $28 per day below the cost of care.

We have reached a "tipping point" and cannot continue caring for the low-income elderly and disabled with further cuts to Medicaid rates. However, we believe that there is a solution that doesn't rely on simply increasing state government spending. We are supporting legislation to establish a nursing home "Safety Net Assessment" that will bring millions of new federal dollars into the state, negating further cuts to Medicaid rates and enabling nursing homes to retain skilled, experienced staff and assure quality care for our elderly. This is not a new idea, 37 other states have been doing something similar for years.

So, we urge readers to contact legislators and express support for the proposed legislation. We believe this is the means to continue the high quality of care and quality of life that the elderly and disabled of our community deserve.

Johnathan Owens.

administrator

Regency at the Park

College Place

It takes more than reading Bible

Ann Lehman should be complimented for advising us to read the Bible for the answers to our questions, but it takes more then reading. The Scripture testifies that if we are willing to obey we will know the doctrine.

Actually some of what Ann has written could give some the wrong idea.

Yes, a very small handful of people who were a part of those who organized the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the 1860s were active in the Millerite movement. This second great awakening was led by William Miller who was a Baptist.

About half of the people in that movement of tens of thousands of people were Methodists. About one quarter were Baptists and the rest were made up of various other denominations. What they had in common was the belief that the return of Christ was imminent and after some time a date in October of 1844 was set for his return. This has been called the Great Disappointment.

At that time there were no Seventh-day Adventists. The Seventh-day Adventist Church was not organized until the early 1860s.

As far as I know, no one in the Millerite movement was resting and worshiping on the seventh day. Certainly none of the folk who were later involved in the organization of the SDA church were worshiping on the seventh day.

So these good people were not only wrong about setting a date, they were also wrong about the Biblical Day of rest and worship as testified to by many Protestant and Catholic theologians.

Hal Larson

Walla Walla

Banning guns not the solution

Invariably, when horrific shootings occur, two things immediately occur: a rush to ascribe blame - most often misplaced (as in this case) - followed by an unreasonable call to enact stringent anti-gun laws.

The "blame game" has mostly disappeared because people realize the shooter was a deranged, schizophrenic user of drugs who couldn't care less about talk radio, Sarah Palin or the tea party. Most people, that is. There are still some, like a certain Pima County sheriff, who blame political rhetoric and "vitriol."

So that leaves guns. Many of our most gun-violent cities - Chicago, Cleveland, Oakland, Compton, Richmond (Calif.), Camden, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. - have the strictest gun laws in the country. Gun laws don't help.

We certainly have more guns per capita than most countries but murders per capita? We're not even in the top 20. Per the 2009 World Almanac, we're more likely to die of illness (74.2 percent), accidents (4.9 percent), suicide (1.3 percent) or other causes (18.8 percent) than by homicide/assault (0.7 percent) - and that percentage includes all weapons, not just guns.

Gun crime is always tragic, but much of it is gang- or drug-related.

Further, we must consider that studies indicate firearms are used more than 2 million times a year for personal protection, and the presence of a firearm - without a shot being fired - often prevents crime. Yes, a Glock - or any other handgun, semi-automatic or revolver - is most frequently used for personal defense purposes. Far more often than for criminal use.

As an NRA member, I've received that organization's monthly magazine, American Rifleman, for many years. Each month a page entitled the Armed Citizen carries a half-dozen or more cases in which a firearm saved someone from violent death or serious injury by an armed criminal.

A recent issue has a typical example: two suspects in Greensboro, N.C., emboldened by a previous robbery, entered a store and demanded money at gunpoint. One aimed at a clerk and pulled the trigger but it misfired. A customer with a concealed carry permit drew his handgun and shot the assailant, who fled. The three were later arrested while seeking treatment at a local hospital.

Jared Loughner's mental behavior, violent threats and (per Sen. Chuck Schumer) "excessive drug use" should have been documented, which likely would have denied his ability to pass the federal NICS check and purchase that gun at Tucson's Sportsman's Warehouse.

Addressing dangerous mental instability is the solution, not gun bans.

Steve Singleton

Walla Walla

Guns are only tools

Following the Tucson tragedy, I knew we would be hearing from anti-gunners soon.

And, like clockwork, in stomps Annie Capestany with her tirade in the Jan. 16 U-B.

The event in Tucson was tragic and senseless. So please exploit it by spouting an anti-gun opinion in its wake. I hate to beat a dead horse here, but guns don't kill people, lunatics do.

When someone like Jared Loughner is bent on killing his victim(s), he will stop at nothing to achieve his objective. With or without a gun! Wake up! Guns are only tools. She mentions that the handgun Loughner used was not necessary for self-defense, but I think I speak for most concealed-carry permit holders when I say that my hunting rifle won't fit in my holster.

She mentions the gun was a killing machine. In the wrong hands, so is a car!

Therefore, if taking guns away from safe, law-abiding gun owners is deemed justifiable because an event such as this occurs, perhaps Annie would find it equally justifiable to forfeit her driver's license and car the next time a drunken driver kills someone. After all, fair is fair and a killing machine is a killing machine.

What if a car had been Loughner's weapon of choice? Multiple victims in one pass! Let's solve that problem by taking cars away from safe, legal drivers. After all, more people are killed in the U.S by drunken drivers and car accidents than by guns.

And by the way, unlike a gun, you don't have a constitutional right to drive a car!

Annie suggests Congress should take back what the NRA has stolen from us. Well thank God for the NRA, it keeps people such as Annie from stealing our constitutional rights.

For those who didn't catch it on the news, one of the first people who responded was a licensed concealed carry holder who had a gun. He went to the scene ready to defend the lives of anyone he could, able to help end the situation with physical force and sane, cognitive decisiveness! That is the type of neighbor I want in my safe community, along with his semi-automatic pistol and however many rounds and magazines it takes to defend his family or friends.

Remember, there may come a day when someone saves your life with a gun. What then?

Jeff Hayes

Milton-Freewater

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