House cravenly caves in to NRA | March 27, editorial
Gun-free zones don't stop crime
The prohibition of guns in particular locations, known as gun-free zones, has never been effective. As a matter of fact, such policies and laws are actually counterproductive. The recent shootings at Virginia Tech provide a clear example of the futility of such policies.
Criminals do not obey such bans, yet law-abiding citizens do, providing an unopposed opportunity for such cowardly and heinous crimes. Gun-free workplaces can provide similar opportunities because a person bent on mayhem and murder sees such places as an opportunity to act without opposition.
In reality, this law does not allow guns into the workplace itself, but only in locked vehicles in privately owned parking lots and only to those with concealed weapon or firearm licenses. As usual, antigun proponents use faulty studies and false predictions of additional violence in their argument. It also is unrealistic to force people to leave their means of self-defense at home only because they're driving to work or going shopping.
The right to self defense is inherent to the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. It is the right of every law-abiding citizen.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
The guns in their lives | March 19, story
A fair look at gun owners
Congratulations on a fair and superior presentation on a difficult subject.
Your staff writers utilized the section for news, leaving out all editorial input. They presented the stories and views from three diverse individuals. All views were in favor of the "right" to be able to make a personal choice in self-protection.
I am pro-Second Amendment (without vitriolic spoutings) and in favor of reasonable yet limited restrictions.
I was taught by my parents that the best restriction in life choices was personal responsibility and education/training in all undertakings. Their teachings and examples have seldom failed me or those I am responsible to and for.
Patti Franzese and Roy Pierce both presented one of the two most important aspects of firearm ownership for self-protection (with two distinctly diverse results): You must be willing and capable to make the choice to stop the aggressor. The other is training.
Frank Farris, Largo
Without peace deal, a quagmire | April 2, letter
Debunking a war myth
This letter perpetuates the myth that "pro-Israel groups strongly encouraged the war in Iraq" and were somehow able to maneuver the U.S. leadership into that conflict.
There is nothing to support that view. "Pro-Israel groups," and American Jews in general, were divided then on the wisdom of invading Iraq and, like most Americans, are divided today on the best way of dealing with the current situation. The Israeli government did not see Iraq as the major threat to its survival and did not urge America to enter the conflict.
Yes, there were Jewish conservatives who supported the war against Iraq because they saw Iraq as a threat to American security— just as there were non-Jewish conservatives like Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney who held the same view, based on the intelligence relied upon by the president, his advisers and other governments.
Sadly, the more often this myth of "pro-Israel advocacy of the war on Iraq" becomes repeated, the more it becomes accepted as the conventional wisdom. That is why it is important to challenge it whenever it sees the light of day.
Bruce A. Epstein, Pinellas Park
Keep the Electoral College
Sen. Bill Nelson's idea of choosing the president by nationwide popular vote is not new. The framers of the Constitution also considered it, along with several other options, such as having Congress do it or leaving it up to the state legislatures. They ultimately decided on the Electoral College process, as set forth in Article 2, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution.
The Electoral College is a body of electors selected by each state, based on that state's number of federal legislators. The Founding Fathers thought that the Electoral College process, which gives the less populous states more say in the process, was more equitable than direct popular vote. They were very learned men, and incorporated into their thinking lessons learned dating back to the time of ancient Greek civilizations.
There have been 43 presidential elections in our history, and only four times did the candidate who won the popular vote not win the election. Those were in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000.
Probably fresh in the senator's mind is the 2000 election, when his party's candidate won the popular vote by a slim margin but lost the election by 271 to 266 electoral votes. The fact that he won only 20 of the 50 states demonstrates what the framers of the Constitution had in mind. Had he won just one more "small" state, he would have won the election.
I don't think that the Constitution should be amended to abolish the Electoral College. Sen. Nelson should study his constitutional history and realize that our Founding Fathers knew what they were doing.
Christian Schwartz, Clearwater
Sea grass big loser as casino boat plies gulf
March 25, story
Sea grass beds are vital
Thank you to Craig Pittman and the St. Petersburg Times for again reporting on important environmental issues that impact all Floridians.
Florida's Nature Coast, stretching from just north of Tampa Bay to the Wakulla County region, is one of Florida's last great natural areas. Miles of coastal wetlands and estuaries stretch up the coast, with pristine sea grass beds just offshore. Marine life essential to recreational and commercial fisheries across the entire Gulf of Mexico depend on this region, and healthy sea grass beds are the lifeblood of an incredible natural system.
It is despicable that a company like SunCruz would so arrogantly destroy a valuable and public natural resource like the sea grass beds of the Nature Coast. It is deeply troubling that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is taking so long to act to stop this. We need action from the state now to ensure that further damage to sea grass beds does not occur, as the damage already done may scar this region for decades.
Kudos to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for promoting legislation that would increase penalties for damaging sea grass beds. The legislators who represent the Nature Coast should be out front in strengthening this legislation to ensure that it covers all sea grass beds, not just ones in state aquatic preserves.
Joe Murphy, Florida Program Coordinator, Gulf Restoration Network, Ridge Manor
Betting on state's future | March 31, story
Another bad bet
Responding to the criticism that the Florida Lottery is attempting to maximize sales in low-income areas, Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno is quoted as saying: "What business tries to market itself to people who can't afford it?"
Can he say "subprime mortgage"?
Richard Flynn, Seminole