Is self-defense always a defense? | Oct. 17
NRA wants a 'shoot first' society
The National Rifle Association wanted a "shoot first" society, and now it has one with its "stand your ground" law. Our position remains the same: This law is a fraud and has nothing to do with self-defense.
Our old self-defense law had worked well from 1885 to 2005, when suddenly the NRA — not law enforcement, prosecutors or our courts — demanded a law that took Florida from a "duty to retreat" state to a "shoot first" state.
What was behind this new law? The answer had nothing to do with self-defense. The NRA wanted to protect gun owners from prosecution when they used guns when not facing an armed predator. Before 2005, many gun owners were getting charged with a crime when they used guns to settle personal entanglements, disputes, etc. This new law greatly expanded the legal use of firearms and provided immunity against criminal and civil prosecution, even if the gun owner accidentally shot the wrong person. To obtain this immunity, the shooter must repeat the NRA's magic words: "I felt threatened."
I have challenged the NRA to find one person who defended himself, his family or property against an armed predator, robber, rapist, home invader, etc., who was unfairly charged with a crime. The NRA cannot produce such a person. Why? Because any defense against an armed predator in Florida has always been perfectly legal. What was never legal was the use of a firearm to settle personal disputes and entanglements. And this new "stand your ground" so-called self-defense law makes the use of guns very legal in these situations as long as you repeat to the police the NRA's magic words: "I felt threatened."
Arthur C. Hayhoe, executive director, Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Inc., Wesley Chapel
NPR fires Juan Williams
Over the years Juan Williams has navigated expertly through his association with Fox News to maintain his progressive credentials, albeit with an occasional misstep. I have been an admirer.
To castigate the large majority of innocent Muslims for their "garb" is not unlike the caveat that while driving through a "black" neighborhood one should roll up the windows and lock the doors. Williams knows better.
He should apologize to the community he maligned and restore his credibility.
Sankaran S. Babu, Wesley Chapel
Pull plug on funding
The prevailing mood of the country calls for a reduction in government spending, and the latest group to appear on the budget cutting target range is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. National Public Radio recently fired a longtime reporter for voicing an opinion that was contrary to the NPR board's definition for proper opinions.
CPB has requested federal funding of $460 million. This money could be better spent projects that would help our citizens — or even better, not spent at all, which would lower our ballooning deficit.
If CPB and NPR provide a desired product, then they should be able to sustain it without reliance on the public purse.
George Fischell, St. Petersburg
Charge for the test
There is a quick way to improve AP test scores: Charge students to take the exam. Only students who want to pass the test will show up.
With Bright Futures Scholarships and Florida Prepaid, many AP students have little incentive to pass the exam. They can retake the class in college for an easy A or B, with tuition paid for.
Most parents will not pay $75 to $100 per exam if their child has little incentive to pass.
Kevin Konkler, Palm Harbor
Fixed-income people are usually older, retired and dependent on one or more monthly incomes. That's true for me. I can't ask my "bosses" for a raise. As someone on a fixed income, I have to be careful how I spend my money.
Everywhere I go, someone or some company has raised prices. My dentist is not satisfied with what the health insurance company pays. The dentist wants more money and I have to pay it.
About two years ago, I dropped homeowner's insurance on the house that is paid for. The insurance company wanted $2,292 for the year. That was too high for me.
When we got our little mixed-breed dog in November 2009, he had a steel tag with a number on it. I took the dog in for an exam and shots recently. Even though the dog came with the tag on him, I was charged $20. The tag on the invoice is marked "for life." The cost for the exam, shots and tag was $159.10.
Electric rates have gone up. I keep the lights in the house off until it's almost dark. When I can, I use flashlights.
At 82 years of age, I doubt that I could find a job. Where are the elected officials who might help keep rates down? Fixed-income people have a struggle to make payments and make ends meet.
Herbert M. Pastan, Largo
I agree school uniforms are good for students. Now let's have the same rule for the teachers. My granddaughter attends grade school in Hillsborough County. I go to the school often to pick her up or attend functions, so I know how the teachers look. The majority look like they just rolled out of bed.
Where is the respect for your appearance?
Maybe teachers weren't paid much when we went to school, but they sure presented themselves better, with a neat, businesslike appearance every day.
Maybe if today's teachers separated themselves from the students in this way, they would get the respect and discipline that's lacking.
Judith Ryba, Odessa
Protection from big powers
No one I know wants the government intruding into their lives.
However, as a working-class citizen I see the government as an advocate to help protect me from the big corporations and the people who hide behind them. These giants can bully us with unfair business practices, and the government should be the referee that keeps the playing field level.
Today the corporate citizen is the primary citizen and the flesh-and-blood person is second class. "We the people" have become "We the corporate serfs."
I count on the government to protect me from the "maximum profit at all cost" mentality that caused the economic mess we are mired in.
I do not need government handouts to redistribute the wealth.
Give me a fair shake and a level playing field and I will redistribute the wealth myself.
Brian Valsavage, St. Petersburg