I spent more than 13 difficult years of emotional turmoil struggling to get professional help for my bipolar stepson. Parents who try on their own to solve the strange behavior of a loved one suffering from schizophrenia are more than likely going to fail.
At first a parent is reluctant to admit that their son or daughter has mental illness. Sometimes the symptoms come on very slowly. In my case, we knew my stepson had a problem at a very young age. Fortunately his biological father had insurance that covered mental illness and my wife and I were able to get three years of professional help at a private mental hospital in Miami.
When the insurance was exhausted, we relied on the state mental hospitals, and that was a disaster. Many of the state mental health facilities were poorly run, overcrowded, with untrained help and archaic methods of treatment.
I think to prevent a massacre like the one in Connecticut we must question the actions of the parent, not jump on more gun control. I don't know all the facts in the Adam Lanza case, but if his mother allowed him to fire weapons at a gun range that seems to me to be unthinkable and bizarre. I think children or adults suffering from any of the mental diseases should be registered on a national "risk list" that would not allow them to obtain or have use of weapons, explosives or other dangerous items.
Don Henecke, Zephyrhills
Connecticut school killings
Violent entertainment's toll
As seen by a 70-year-old grandmother, the problem is all the shooting in video games. Just count how many computer games are comprised of shooting as many people as possible. These games involve machine guns, and the more you kill the more your self-esteem goes up and the more your friends give you high-fives.
Then look at movies and music involving violence. The list goes on, but know this: These experiences can enter a child's dreams and subconscious and, when suppressed, can lead to rage.
The solution is to pledge to not buy, sell, play or make violent games, movies, songs, etc., for just one year as a national experiment. Instead offer and support games filled with integrity, morals, scruples, kindness and hope.
Georgia Payne, Tampa
The first of many | Dec. 18
Think of the children
I never met Noah Pozner, the youngest child murdered at Sandy Hook, and I never will. It would be useful if each person considering the necessary breadth of gun rights would look at Noah's picture and consider the rights of children like him. Any reasonable person giving such consideration should be willing to reasonably limit his or her gun rights if that limit might prevent the murder of another Noah.
Ed Bradley, Valrico
Gunman packed arsenal | Dec. 17
Terrorists among us
This headline, "Gunman packed arsenal," should have been, "Domestic terrorist attacks elementary school." The media must start labeling acts of terrorism for what they are.
"Gunman packed arsenal" could be a statement within the article, but as the headline it diminishes understanding of what took place: an act of domestic terrorism.
I am concerned that we will focus on guns, not the real issue: Who are the terrorists among us?
James Stone, Ruskin
In states, leaders propose controls | Dec. 19
Right to life trumps guns
The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is a more fundamental human right than the right to bear arms. The Founding Fathers used single-shot muskets and never envisioned the types of automatic weapons that proliferate today.
The civil liberties of those who don't own weapons can no longer be held subservient to the demands of gun owners. Assault rifles have no place outside of the military and police forces.
Gun owners should be required to maintain insurance analogous to automobile insurance. People who do not drive are not required to carry car insurance. People who drive agree to compulsory insurance, covering areas such as collision, liability, uninsured drivers, etc.
Having to pay compulsory insurance (the more guns and ammo, and the more dangerous the guns, the higher the premiums), which allows the victim and/or their relatives to sue the trigger person's firearm liability insurer, will hopefully reduce gun violence by making it costly to threaten or take the lives of others.
People may not make changes based on morality, but will make changes when it costs them personally.
John Thomas, Largo
State Rep. Dennis Baxley suggests that the best way to protect our children in school is to arm their teachers. If Baxley were a gun enthusiast (his information on the Florida Legislature's website lists only that he enjoys fishing, listening to gospel music, and reading), he'd know how difficult it is to fire a weapon accurately at any distance. Imagine a frightened schoolteacher, hands trembling while shielding her class, trying to bring down a well-armed assailant who very likely is wearing body armor.
Of course, such a scenario is ridiculous on its face, as is the very notion that what our schools need is gun-toting teachers. What kind of mind even conceives of such a thing?
If Baxley wants to pass meaningful gun legislation, he ought to introduce a bill to rescind 2011's HB 45, which makes it illegal for city and county governments to restrict guns in our parks, community centers — practically anywhere. It enacts severe penalties for those local officials — people we elected to protect us — who would be so bold as to try to keep guns out of our parks and public buildings.
Eric S. Gerard, Largo
Sign a new pledge
If Grover Norquist can get all those members of Congress to sign his antitax pledge, how about a anti-NRA pledge? Let's get lawmakers to pledge not to accept any money from the NRA and to return all funds recently accepted. Perhaps we can get sensible gun control if members of Congress have not been bought and paid for by the NRA.
Lewis Lederer, Clearwater
A birthday like few reach and Never let go
Parallels and differences
I recently read in amazement two very similar stories chronicling the fight of two tiny babies who had little to no chance of surviving, let alone thriving. While their stories had amazing parallels, troubling inconsistencies emerged when I read the ensuing reader comments after each story.
The Juniper French story was met with a majority of comments about miracles, inspiration and gratitude for simply sharing the story of her unthinkable journey. The comments directed at Riley Allen's story, on the other hand, bordered on harassment of her young parents about their lifestyle choices and even criticized their decision to bring her into the world.
Both sets of parents were met with the most difficult of choices and both did what they felt was best for their child. I cannot wrap my head around why so many would feel (and express on a public forum) that one life and all of the efforts necessary to save it would be more worthy than the other.
I have to ignore the negativity because I refuse to believe that our community feels that a child born to married vs. unmarried, employed vs. jobless, older vs. younger, or insured vs. uninsured parents is more deserving of life.
Mandi Walker, Riverview
Senator joins the line of presidential succession | Dec. 19
In poor taste
Considering that Sen. Patrick Leahy's accession to No. 3 in presidential succession was made possible by the death only two days earlier of Sen. Daniel Inouye, a true American war hero who lost his right arm and won the Medal of Honor in a real and necessary war, I consider the exuberance exhibited in the photo accompanying the story, particularly by Leahy and his wife, to have been in very poor taste.
R.G. Wheeler, St. Petersburg
CEOs: Be flexible on taxes | Dec. 13
Be flexible on salaries
If America's corporate executives would be satisfied with compensation of a quarter-million dollars, they wouldn't suffer under President Barack Obama's plan to tax higher incomes more. And there would be a bundle of cash to distribute to the workers in the businesses to perk up the nation's economy (and their higher incomes would be taxed as well). Winners all around.
Then the deadlocked national legislators might turn to real spending cuts to begin to reduce the U.S. debt — like cuts to the bloated military.
Donald Rosselet, Dunnellon