The NRA and other groups consistently cite their Second Amendment right to bear arms. This includes assault rifles and many other kinds of weapons, not just hunting weapons and sidearms for personal protection.
Where are my rights as a law-abiding U.S. citizen? Which amendment protects our children from being hunted down as they go to school? Which amendment protects us as we go out to enjoy a movie at our local theater? Which amendment protects us from being shot any time we leave our homes?
As a regular U.S. citizen, I can't get the local, county or state police to put up a two-square-block perimeter around my home to keep guns from getting any closer than that to my home. This was the solution used for the Republican National Convention in Tampa last year. Similar protections were given to Asa Hutchinson at a recent speaking engagement about the right to carry firearms.
It seems that we as a country are headed back to the old Wild West days where most everyone carried six-shooters, and law and order was in the hands of the beholder.
Jack Stawicki, Beverly Hills
Stepped-up effort takes 120 guns off the streets | April 9
Controlling the guns
Congratulations to St. Petersburg police Chief Chuck Harmon and the department for developing a program to get guns off the streets and protect our schools. Using home checks for people on parole or probation, as well as search warrants for suspected felons, the police have confiscated numerous firearms and arrested people associated with past gun crimes.
The gun bounty program through Crime Stoppers can also be effective in identifying and removing illegal guns from the streets. Hopefully, programs like St. Petersburg's will continue to be funded as an effective way to control illegal use of firearms.
Joe Wareham, Tierra Verde
How to put the brakes on rising medical costs April 8, commentary
Cutting waste is the answer
This column misses the mark and is naive. The true solution is in cutting waste — an estimated $750 billion per year according to the Institute of Medicine — not tweaking.
The writer suggests a national health card for medical records. Presently, with hundreds of different medical record systems and insurers, the lack of interoperability presents a formidable barrier. Cloud-based patient portals such as the one developed by MDclick are safe, secure, easily accessible, global and free to the patient.
Funding for more medical residents is not the solution. It wrongly presumes that physicians are service providers instead of health leaders. Training mid-level clinicians such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants who can handle 80 percent of the load with higher quality takes half the time. Physicians, with their advanced training, should be focused on complex conditions and managing the mid-level clinicians.
Other countries can bargain with drug companies not because they have single-payer systems, but because they have sensible tort laws and only pay for the drugs, not the liability, regulatory approval or development. The American people shoulder the bulk of those costs.
Going to one procedure at one price, without addressing waste, will kill the system. Why? Because the private sector subsidizes Medicare and, especially, Medicaid. Equalizing prices will force public payers to pay their fair share and dump hundreds of billions more onto the taxpayers' backs. I do agree, however, that price transparency is not only more practical, it is in the public interest.
I have been on the front line of many sectors of health care for 40 years. There are solutions, and the Affordable Care Act is a step in the right direction, but it is insurance reform, not health care reform, where the true solutions lie. Part of the problem is that health care professionals who have real solutions are drowned out by the din of politics and punditry.
James Doulgeris, Palm Harbor
A chained price index helpful but not radical April 9, commentary
I had to take two aspirin and lie down after reading Peter Orszag's explanation of the rate increase/decrease in Social Security.
Has there ever been a better demonstration of bureaucratic obfuscation? There was indexing, projecting, averaging, estimating and calculating; there was even an "apples to oranges" comparison. And to top all this off, Orszag graciously calls for giving President Barack Obama (his old boss) credit for political courage.
I'm still looking for real political courage in Washington.
John Dautovic, Largo
Race to the bottom
I found Peter Orszag's article on the chained CPI interesting. However, I do have one question. Orszag illustrates the basics of the chained CPI by stating that "it better reflects how people change what they buy in response to price increases. When the price of apples rises relative to oranges … people eat more oranges." I suppose this means that when oranges become too expensive, our seniors should be expected to eat lettuce. And when lettuce becomes too expensive, then what? Pet food, perhaps?
For the likes of Orszag to support such a move toward such a slippery slope is not unexpected. After all, he will never have to rely on a CPI of any kind to make ends meet. However, for President Barack Obama to support such a measure is nothing short of shameful.
Charles Edwards, Tampa
Stop labeling people bigots | April 7, letter
Rights are for all
The writer sees "nothing disingenuous about a civil union or domestic-partner type of relationship, short of marriage."
I don't know if the writer is married, but if she is, would she be willing to give up the 1,100 rights and benefits that the federal government provides to "married" couples? Would she be willing to be legally married in one state, but not in another? That is what same-sex couples contend with.
Being gay is not a choice. All citizens of the United States are entitled to the same rights from the federal government. A state cannot infringe those rights.
Ellen Levett, St. Petersburg
If this bill passes, schools will fail | April 7, John Romano column
Legislators should listen
Once again John Romano hits the nail on the head with his article regarding the parent trigger bill and the legislators in Florida who consistently ignore the voices of those they supposedly represent. America and Floridians all spoke loud and clear during the last election. The polls consistently show how the general public feels about this bill and other topics including health care, gun control and education, but they don't listen.
Legislators, do your homework.
Charles Wall, Oldsmar
Low pay, high demands, so few school bus drivers | April 8
Look to public transit
School districts are having difficulty finding qualified school bus drivers to transport their students. Perhaps it's time to take a look at passes for high school students to use the local public transportation system. Some school districts have piloted this and report an increase in student attendance due to increased flexibility of transportation schedules. This sounds like an excellent opportunity for two very important public systems to work together.
Margaret B. Griffin, Belleair
Ceviche open again after a blow | April 10
Put letter grades in window
If city and county officials required restaurants to post Board of Health sanitary scores or ratings in their windows, as many cities and counties in other parts of the country do, the public would see far fewer restaurants closed belatedly for "dirty dining" practices.
Ron Hammerle, Valrico
Keeping Florida's water flowing | April 10, commentary
Clean up our springs
One concern Adam Putnam did not mention is what is being done to clean up the pollution in Florida's streams, lakes and other bodies of water like Wakulla Springs. It seems to me that improving the quality of the water we already have should also be part of maintaining Florida's water supply.
Gerard Vernot, Land O' Lakes