Saturday, January 20, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Letters: Pasco shouldn't stop gun-show background check hearing

Canceled hearing silences majority

It is ironic that on the day the Pasco Commission decides to cancel the public hearing on requiring background checks for the purchase of firearms at Pasco gun shows, the latest poll shows 94 percent of Floridians favor background checks for purchasing firearms.

Background checks save lives. Where background checks are done the murder rate of women is 38 percent lower, firearm suicide rates are 49 percent lower and gun trafficking is 48 percent lower. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System was established, 1.4 million felons, mentally ill, spouse abusers, illegal aliens and others prohibited from owning guns have been stopped from obtaining firearms. The system works. Why would anyone think allowing felons, abusers, minors and the mentally ill to acquire firearms is a threat to their Second Amendment rights? I know it is a threat to our right to be free from gun violence.

Canceling the hearing is a delay tactic by the County Commission to avoid having to go on the record on closing the loophole. The law abiding citizens of Pasco deserve the opportunity to express their First Amendment rights at a public hearing and we are deeply troubled at the circumstances surrounding the cancellation.

In 1998, the people of Florida approved, by a 73-37 percent margin, Article VIII Section 5 to the Florida Constitution that states "b) Each county shall have the authority to require a criminal history records check and a three- to five-day waiting period, excluding weekends and legal holidays, in connection with the sale of any firearm occurring within such county. For purposes of this subsection, the term 'sale' means the transfer of money or other valuable consideration for any firearm when any part of the transaction is conducted on property to which the public has the right of access. Holders of a concealed weapons permit as prescribed by general law shall not be subject to the provisions of this subsection when purchasing a firearm.''

Pasco County has the constitutional right to require background checks at gun shows; no state law can or has changed that. The outcome of a lawsuit elsewhere is in no way related to the right of Pasco County to require background checks at gun shows as guaranteed by the state Constitution.

Elaine Togneri, New Port Richey

Attorney didn't list legal concerns

It's nice that Assistant County Attorney Kristi Sims thinks Pasco County has the right to exercise the authority voters gave to commissioners and to every County Commission in the state, to close all county gun show loophole, but now she is concerned because of a lawsuit over the issue of the firearms preemption law.

Even the NRA acknowledged the gun show loophole and the three-day waiting period are exempt from the firearms preemption law and that words in the state Constitution preempt legislation. Assistant attorney Sims is concerned about unforeseen legal entanglements, but did not mention what they might be.

Over 15 counties have closed the gun show loophole and the three-day waiting period is part of every retail sale of a firearm in Florida, but we can find no evidence these county commissioners found themselves entangled in all kinds of legal issues because they chose to make use of the state Constitution.

The NRA must be jumping for joy because of the unprofessional and specious advice our assistant county attorney has given commissioners. Now we must wait, perhaps for years, for the outcome of this suit while our gun shows go right on selling handguns and assault rifles with no background check.

Arthur C. Hayhoe, executive director, Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Inc.

Dropping issue a sad situation

The March 19 meeting to address the gun show loophole has been dropped from the Pasco Commission agenda, citing legal issues in other counties relating to their gun show rules.

This is very sad indeed.

As the great comedian Jonathan Winters used to say, "I know where it is but you can't get there from here!"

Marc Yacht, Hudson

People deserve vote on loophole

The Pasco County Commission is using a pending lawsuit in Pinellas, which by all accounts appears to be without any merit, to govern its local agenda. Really?

Pasco County has never been one to allow its policies to be governed by lawsuits or any other threats of litigation, which is as it should be. Otherwise, every person who does not get their way before the board would simply sue the county.

The people of Pasco County deserve a vote on the issue of closing the gun-show loophole and it deserves a "yes" vote. It is not unreasonable to check one's background to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. While no legislation will ever stop mass murder, removing this matter from the agenda is a disservice to constituents, a vast majority of whom support closing the gun-show loophole.

How disappointing that the board refuses to listen to its constituents on this issue in the name of political expediency. Perhaps they also hope Congress will close the loophole so they don't have to act. But let's be frank: the stall tactic is not about fear of a lawsuit. It's about fear of political primary retribution in the next re-election.

Perhaps the worst form of governance is one without the courage to do the right thing.

Chuck Kalogianis, Trinity

Sheriff's Office's double standard?

We have been having a problem in our neighborhood with unlicensed all-terrain vehicles driving in excess of 60 mph. Our speed limit is 25 mph.

Recently, a young man drove an ATV at a very high speed through our yards. I called the Pasco Sheriff's Office and asked for surveillance in our neighborhood. About 20 minutes later a deputy did drive around once and left.

Ten minutes later, the ATV is back, I called the Sheriff's Office again and the dispatcher said a deputy would call me. He did and he listened to me and then he told me, "You know, this isn't Hollywood.'' He talked about availability of manpower and then told me he was going to interview a robbery suspect and would probably be with that case the rest of the evening.

I can only guess that Beacon Woods and Trinity neighborhoods must be Hollywood, although we all pay taxes in Pasco. What a double standard.

Joanne Arneson, New Port Richey


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