No simple answer to gun violence
We have people who despise everything about guns and would prefer no one owned a gun. On the other hand, we have people who believe if they give in on one single gun issue, the federal government will gnaw away at our Second Amendment rights until nothing is left. Regardless of what happens on this issue, it will not stop a mass killing such as the one that occurred at Sandy Hook.
The issues of assault weapons, gun magazines that hold excessive shells and waiting periods need to be vigorously debated in this country — but not because of Sandy Hook. The debate needs to be held because of gun homicides in general and what is appropriate in a civil society. Many gun owners see no civilian value in assault weapons and clips that hold excessive shells. But they would not tolerate having to check their guns out like library books.
In general, most psychiatrists and people in the mental heath profession say there is no magical process for predicting who will commit a violent act. Sure we have threat assessment protocols. One was developed years ago for the Pasco County School System. Unfortunately, we have no great predictive tools. Common sense, however, and the data tell us that a serious cut in mental health funding certainly is not the answer. Local communities suffer when funding is cut and the untreated mentally ill walk the streets.
Placing school resource officers in elementary schools certainly will make parents feel better but it would not have stopped Sandy Hook. I know parents feel better when they see an armed police officer standing in front of their elementary school. But, it is wrong to mislead those parents by implying a single officer could fend off a mass killer with an arsenal of weapons. That is why we have SWAT Teams. SROs in elementary schools should be considered, but let's not pretend they could fend off a full-blown assault.
There is no simple solution. What Sandy Hook demands is thoughtful reflection from professionals across many fields, including law enforcement, education and mental health, as well as the pro and con organizations that spend far too much time spitting at each other rather than engaging in empathetic and constructive dialogue.
It would behoove the Legislature to convene a study group and take a serious look at this issue and assess the interventions that would bring about the desired outcomes. It is a tough task but one worthy of our undivided attention.
Ray Gadd, Land O'Lakes
State, not county, regulates guns | Jan. 9, letter
How state made safe for guns
The letter writer is correct that our state government, not local governments, regulate guns, but forgot to say why. The NRA and their Republican supporters passed a firearms pre-emption law, HB-45 that made it illegal for local government to control firearms. It destroyed all remaining gun control laws, which has finally made Florida safe for guns.
However, the writer is dead wrong that county commissioners face $5,000 fines for considering enactment of their local option to close the Pasco gun show loophole passed by state ballot initiative in 1998. Like the three-day wait we passed in 1986, also by ballot initiative, both changed the words in the state's Constitution. HB-45 specifically exempt these two gun-control laws because the NRA and their Republican supporters cannot change the words in the state's Constitution without passing a counter ballot initiative.
To say HB-45 created a gun safety and public safety crisis, is an understatement. Law enforcement and local government had to race to destroy all controls on firearms or face heavy fines, which included removing all posted restrictions on firearms including those extended to private property and all businesses.
The disaster of HB-45 highlights a basic misunderstanding of the role of state gun-control laws versus federal law. Firearms are controlled by state law, not federal law, with the exception of the 1968 federal gun control act as amended. Passage of new federal law, while badly needed, may have little effect on what laws the NRA can continue to get passed in Florida. Folks need to pay more attention what gun-rights laws the state passes for the NRA to continue its quest to make Florida safer for guns.
Arthur Hayhoe, Wesley Chapel
Balance progress, profits, passion | Jan. 10, guest column
Health system culture hurts care
Dr. Rao Musunuru captures succinctly the current clinical practice atmosphere for patients and doctors.
Health care has been overwhelmed by corporate culture, greed, liability concerns, and impersonal technology. Such an environment has seriously damaged relationships between doctors and patients.
Add to that the Florida's 25 percent uninsured and it becomes more and more difficult to re-establish the compassion that should be the center of medical care.
Perhaps the current state of medicine reflects on our current society. There are so many improvements in our material life but we may have sacrificed human commitments to each other and our community.
Dr. Marc Yacht, Hudson
Let captain stay with department
Fire Rescue captain might lose job | Jan. 10, article
Capt. David Garofalo made a stupid decision to get behind the wheel after drinking. He will pay dearly for that mistake out of his pocket. Loosing his job could possibly ruin him. I assume he is a very responsible man being he holds a high ranking position in fire rescue.
If he has no prior DUIs and no work disciplinary actions, I do not see why he should lose his job. He can be eligible for a hardship driver's license which would entitle him to drive for employment and business purposes.
Louis Hollander, New Port Richey