Gun reforms gaining ground in Congress | Feb. 23, editorial
Use concealed carry as a model
I was impressed with the irony of this editorial, which began by rooting for legislators to "wrestle free from the grip of the National Rifle Association," then advocated the same decades-old gun control agenda that has filled the NRA's coffers with cash. Yes, universal background checks might pass this time, as they should. But we should know by now that it is folly to try to ban things like military-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, which millions of Americans lawfully possess and responsibly use.
It's time for gun control advocates to think more creatively about leveraging — not denigrating — America's unique culture of responsible gun ownership. Instead of bans, why not have the federal government regulate ownership of semiautomatic weapons with detachable magazines by applying requirements like those for Florida permits for carrying a concealed weapon?
State concealed carry licensing typically requires citizens to register, get fingerprinted, prove training, and pass a background check. Set aside what you think of concealed carry as policy. The point is that millions of gun owners voluntarily submit to these requirements. Far from infringing on our rights, I and most other permit holders value the interface with law enforcement and are proud to be licensed. As a result, using the concealed carry model to tighten ownership of high-capacity firearms is much more politically feasible than any outright ban.
The vast majority of us also store our weapons securely and would report a theft. Make those mandatory as well, and it could significantly reduce the trafficking of the most capable firearms to people who shouldn't have them. The NRA will object, of course, but would be in the awkward position of arguing against laws requiring responsible gun owners to be responsible.
Henry Alan Stephenson, Tampa
For new pier, big backing | Feb. 23, editorial
Stop this mistake
Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg Inc. will continue to give voice to the substantial majority of city residents who oppose the Lens concept for a new pier. In addition to a majority of citizens immediately and persistently disliking it, it was specifically designed not to accommodate restaurant and retail activity over the water other than a gelato stand. It still isn't. The new Columbia can be built without any over-water portion of the new pier ever being constructed. The fine dining on the east end of the pier depicted in the architect's latest promotional drawings has as much validity as his pictures of the now-abandoned centerpiece of this project, "The Reef" — the underwater marine garden featuring crystalline blue water.
Of equal concern are the looping bridge design, which compresses bicycle and motor vehicle traffic between the rails of a 20-foot-wide bridge with no physical barrier separating pedestrians from vehicles, and the downgraded canopy to be made of metal rather than concrete. This canopy presents a challenging engineering experiment in corrosion control with the city bearing all the substantial risk.
Every major development project is promoted with pretty pictures featuring smiling people. This applies to projects that fail just as it does to ones that succeed. Buyer beware.
This is not complicated. Stop this ever-growing mistake. Go back to the Pier Advisory Task Force Report as printed, not as described by spin masters. Take the time to get our new pier right.
William C. Ballard, president, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg Inc., St. Petersburg
Get going on better transit | Feb. 24, editorial
Call it investment
As we embark on our high-stakes light-rail soap opera, let's replace the word tax with investment. We know where that money is going.
By building the rail system we can save 3.9 billion gallons of gas a year without adding a penny to our tax bill. Instead we'll add a penny to our investment. We can ask tourists to add a penny too; I bet they won't even notice.
This idea should appeal to both the climate deniers as well as the deniers of making national investments in a time of recession.
Michael Drexler, St. Petersburg
GOP now leaning to cuts in defense | Feb. 25
In reading all the areas to be affected by the latest government gamesmanship, I wonder what determines who is affected. Why would teachers and aides be cut? Why not administrators? It seems to me you could cut a couple of people making $100,000-plus versus three or four making $30,000 to $50,000. Why are those who do the work the first to go?
Lynn Wood, Tierra Verde
Lack of leadership
What a sad state our country is in. Our leadership has no concern for the people who sent them to Washington. We as their boss need to enforce the same level of pain on them as they are on those who will go without pay and even jobs due to their lack of action.
This is not the fault of any one party but the lack of leadership in the White House and the Republican Party.
Rich Prestera, Treasure Island
Self-inflected wounds from sequester loom and Real cost of shrinking government Feb. 25
Sky isn't falling
Both of these articles warn that terrible things will happen due to pending sequestration. Really? Let's consider another perspective: $85 billion is a lot of money, but out of annual expenditures of some $3 trillion, that's only a small reduction of 2.8 percent. So, will the sky really fall? I don't think so.
Furthermore, annual spending of $3 trillion for the last four years includes $1 trillion of annual borrowing for our children and grandchildren to repay. How long is 33 percent borrowing sustainable?
David Behrle, Safety Harbor
Senate president knows the right side of history | Feb. 26, Steve Bousquet column
The whole picture
This column regarding the letter written by Gov. LeRoy Collins in response to the Florida Legislature refusing to implement Brown vs. Board of Education used the following to describe the Legislature: "An all-white, rigidly segregationist, unrepresentative Legislature, controlled by rural 'pork choppers.' " Steve Bousquet could have added one more descriptive word: Democrats. The House of Representatives at that time had 95 members, 89 of which were Democrats. If we are to learn from our past lets make sure we present the whole picture.
Mike Gonzalez, Brooksville