We still live, fearfully, in 'Gunlandia' | Guest column April 19
Thank the NRA for 'Gunlandia'
James Pettican's description of Florida as Gunlandia describes exactly what the National Rifle Association has been allowed to do in Florida, since I became involved in those issues in 1985. It started with guns in cars and spread to concealed handguns, then to guns in businesses and today to guns in schools. But it wasn't just more guns in more places that turned Florida into Gunlandia, it was also a campaign by the NRA and our Republican Legislature to cripple law enforcement's ability to track and arrest criminals before they committed crimes and by not allowing the passage of a single law that would prevent a gun from falling into the wrong hand.
If that wasn't bad enough, the Legislature allowed the NRA pre-emption law to sail through, canceling all city and county gun control laws, leaving local law enforcement without a single statute to control guns and the mayhem they create in our communities. That is the main reason Florida is one of a half-dozen states that have unrelenting systemic gun violence.
But in Gunlandia, the NRA and our Legislature have given us the right to shoot back at armed criminals. What more could a citizen ask for? Didn't we want more guns everywhere and more ill-trained and poorly vetted but armed people next to us at schools, at the workplace and at public outings?
Unfortunately, the NRA's support of handguns is being eclipsed by the rush to buy assault rifles, which can be purchased without a background check at most gun shows. Despite the fact this weapon is a poor choice for self-defense, that number is growing at an alarming rate.
Mr. Pettican at 89 and myself at 76 do not expect to see this madness change in our lifetime. However, the good news is that the public increasingly views the NRA and our domestic arsenal, which before the 1970s was seen as an asset for our society, as a movement no longer grounded in American values of truth, honesty, public service and public safety.
Arthur C. Hayhoe, director
Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Inc.
Libraries need to stay public, not go private | C.T. Bowen column, April 19
Award-winning library needs help
Thank you for your column regarding the importance of keeping our libraries public and free. Here in New Port Richey, we have the only library in Pasco County that is not cutting its schedule or services to the public. Our award-winning library offers many services that the public now needs more than ever.
Our library serves the folks and projects that enhance the love of reading and lifelong learning. We work with all types of people — new immigrants, children, older adults, and everyone in between — with our programs. On March 25, staff writer Michele Miller wrote about one of our successful programs, "Garage Jams for teens." This program introduces our youth to music and gives them the opportunity to get together and play different instruments, sing or just listen to the music. We also offer literacy programs, computer training, foreign languages, musical concerts, conferences, workshops, dancing, yoga and many other services so well received by our patrons.
I represent the Friends of the New Port Richey Library. While financial support of the library is a big part of what we do, Friends also has active public involvement. We are looking for volunteers to donate their time and energy to help in the library office, donation center or at our special events. The New Port Richey Library needs your support. The Friends of the New Port Richey Library membership fee is very low and goes directly to enable us to fund outstanding, free library programs and services. You can also donate your books, CDs and DVDs to the library for our biannual book sales.
As the economy suffers, our libraries are being used by record numbers of people. In less than six months our library had 281,963 visits, compared to 388,761 in all of the previous year. The 73,274 items checked out in a two-week period is overwhelming because the staff (or volunteers) have to reshelve those items as they return.
We are book lovers, information seekers, readers, listeners, music and movie buffs. We are young and old, with varying interests and backgrounds. We all treasure ideas and value the public library as a vital community resource. For more about the Friends of the New Port Richey Library, you may contact me at FriendsofNPRLibrary@gmail.com or call the library at (727) 853-1279.
Bob Langford, president, Friends of the New Port Richey Library