Porochista Khakpour's article chronicles the story of a woman who was victimized as a youth, came into contact with guns, became proficient at the range, and then realized that she was interested in guns for all the wrong reasons — power, attention, sex appeal. This epiphany led her to give up guns. I applaud and fully support Khakpour's rational and logical decision not to keep and bear arms. Owning and carrying firearms is a grave responsibility, one for which many people are not prepared.
On the other hand, Khakpour makes a major mistake in the remainder of the article, extrapolating her own experience and motivation to the rest of the world. She assumes that, because her motives for owning and shooting guns were suspect, that others own guns and shoot for equally bad reasons. She laments that 43 percent of women report home gun ownership and that more women are going to the shooting range. She seems ashamed of her original choice to shoot guns. She calls it "a passion for destruction veiled as protection." With that analysis clearly explaining her own motives, I am again glad that she realizes that guns are not for her.
Women own and shoot guns for many good and valid reasons. Some women hunt, shoot in competitions, or simply shoot for recreation. A great example is Kim Rhode of the U.S. Shooting Team. In London in 2012, she became the first American athlete to win five medals in an individual event in five consecutive Olympics. Some women want to exercise a fundamental right of free citizens.
Probably the main reason is self-defense. Guns are great equalizers against an attacker who is most likely larger and stronger than the woman. Many women take on the responsibility of self-defense and the defense of children instead of relying totally on a husband or other man, or the police. A mother in Georgia recently used a handgun to shoot a home invader to protect her young twin children. Her husband or the police could do nothing to save her or the children. Protecting your children seems like as appropriate and valid a motive as possible, especially in light of the Connecticut elementary school shooting.
Khakpour tells us that it is time for us to "woman up and disarm." Better advice for women and men alike is to become familiar with the right of gun ownership and find out if owning and shooting a gun are right for you. If so, get professional training and plenty of practice at the range. If you make the decision to carry concealed, get proper training and a permit, and then carry your firearm responsibly. There's no reason to be ashamed of your decision either way.
Susan Hill, Apollo Beach
Where austerity went, failure soon followed Jan. 8, commentary
Paul Krugman's column takes instant gratification to a new high. The reforms in the EU nations have not yet worked themselves out, a process that takes several years or more. The delay is caused by opposition from people and enterprises dependent on large and growing government subsidies.
An economy is like a household. A family is on the road to ruin if it spends too much, runs up its debt, has a poor return on that spending, and takes jobs that cost more than they net. A nation is on the road to a fiscal disaster if it runs up its debt from wasteful and unproductive political projects, unwise green energy and other pork without a reasonable chance of a profitable return.
The financial system was fixed with TARP. After that we had President Barack Obama's regulation, the Fed's devastation of the saving and investing end of the financial system with free money for the big guys and tight credit for the little guys, higher taxes, the coming cost of Obamacare, and general government growth. That is what crippled the recovery, not some European-type austerity.
James Klapper, Oldsmar
Rein in spending
Paul Krugman is way off on whether austerity measures work. Of course they do. One only needs to look to the vast amount of unnecessary expenditures by government entities to know that a simple change in policies can eliminate overpayments and help get out of the "spend it or lose it" mentality.
I sent a city an invoice for $5,400 instead of the $6,000 the purchase order was for, since a job didn't take me as long as I thought it might. I thought I was saving them money, but they didn't know how to pay the lesser amount and insisted they had to pay the $6,000.
Krugman's belief — that to get out of debt you borrow and spend more — doesn't work in government nor personal life.
Scott Burton, St. Petersburg
Protect spousal support | Jan. 8, letter
Alimony law not working
Contrary to this letter, the alimony system is not working. There are many Floridians struggling under a permanent alimony judgment while making far less than the "ex" they are supporting.
As for a wife and mother re-entering the workplace: The skills I learned in both of those roles served me well. Yes, I had to start at the bottom, but I rose quickly because I was organized, could multitask brilliantly and worked well when sick or tired — all hallmarks of any mother anywhere.
Florida needs to catch up with most of the other states in the land and outlaw permanent alimony, which is a travesty.
Eileen Flaxman, Wimauma
Much work still to do reforming tax code Jan. 8, editorial
Keep it simple
This is a relevant and timely editorial. That the tax code has once again become impenetrably complex and riddled with loopholes is an understatement. Many average individuals today cannot file their taxes on their own. An entire industry of tax preparation services and software programs has grown and prospered because of this fact.
Our congressional leadership should apply the KISS principle to reforming the tax code: Keep it simple, stupid.
John Robbins, Tampa
In gun control debate, calls to act, pleas to wait | Jan. 7
No time to wait
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said gun control legislation would have to wait until the debt ceiling problem is solved. Why? Can't Congress consider more than one issue at a time?
Salty language is bleeped out on TV shows, yet we don't complain of censorship. But assault weapons can continue to be sold to the public. Which is more dangerous? Don't delay. Get to work.
Lois Hawkins, Dunedin
Let robots work and let us dream Jan. 5, Reading files
Even dreamers have to wake up and eat. Our capitalistic system is all about profit, and we are paid based on how much money we make for our employers.
Robots will be used because there are no salaries and few paid technicians are needed. And the displaced workers will scrabble for money for food and other necessities. Hard to dream when you are hungry.
Sheila Kenny, Riverview
Benefits should be shared
The item about robots doing the work and humans doing the thinking is a good start to the topic. Robots and computers have already taken over many tasks. ATMs and direct deposit have replaced many bank tellers. Cars are built by robots, and the number of autoworkers has been greatly reduced. Where it once took many farmers to feed a city, now small numbers of workers on giant factory farms can feed large populations.
With increased productivity and efficiency, how can the benefits be spread over the entire population and not given to just the few who own the methods of production? It is only when everyone does better that it is better for everyone. Otherwise civil strife is a real risk for our society.
Bill Armstrong, Largo
A hunt in hog haven | Jan. 10
Images of carnage
What will we do when we run out of animals to target and annihilate? This week alone, the paper profiled countless sharks who have their fins sliced off and are dumped back in the ocean to die, pythons who are about to have their heads cut off, and hogs who are surrounded by dogs and men who charge in to stab them to death with knives or shoot them with guns.
Through no fault of their own, these animals are not where they are "supposed" to be. They are simply trying to survive. We try to make the slaughters palatable with lots of excuses, but our blood lust is thinly disguised in "hunts" like this, particularly when they are called "contests."
Keep printing appalling pictures of killed animals. We don't deserve to close our eyes to the carnage.
Suzanne Carlson, Largo
Plan for schools: armed guards | Jan. 10
Public safety is a serious issue that must be addressed with a finite amount of resources. That is why we cannot afford to throw away millions of taxpayer dollars to put armed guards in schools just so parents feel better.
While the loss of 20 children in Newtown is tragic, there is no evidence to suggest putting armed guards in schools will prevent something like this from happening again.
Meanwhile, in 2010 there were 311 pedestrian and bicycle fatalities involving kids age 14 and under, and 23,000 injuries. We cannot afford to sacrifice actual public safety for the illusion of public safety.
Gabriel Hulett, Clearwater
Make timing standard
When approaching an intersection, I love the countdown lights on pedestrian signals, however there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the timing. Some lights turn yellow at zero, while others have a delay.
I am a defensive driver and am concerned with the countdown system. Make the timing standard.
Bill Crumley, Clearwater