'Open carry' law on firearms is bad idea
I am an endowment life member of the National Rifle Association. I support virtually every NRA initiative, but I'm not so sure "open carry" of firearms is a good idea. In fact, I can think of any number of reasons why it is a bad idea and not one reason why it is a good idea.
First, just about any good citizen in Florida can already carry a concealed firearm. A total of 780,000 good citizens already carry guns or have permits that allow them to carry guns if they want.
But we Second Amendment proponents have to be aware that there are a lot of people who are fearful, some even terrified, of guns. There are people who have been assaulted, robbed or threatened at gunpoint. Some go on to get carry permits; some retreat into abject fear of guns. Victims, families of victims and others who are not firearms-oriented are going to be very uncomfortable if they see a .45 strapped to somebody's hip in every aisle at Publix. And what's the point? That if somebody sees you have a gun they won't mess with you? That is false security.
As a former Chicago police officer, I received extensive training on how the bad guys can disarm you and how to protect your gun. Most Chicago uniformed cops carry two guns — one concealed, in case the bad guy gets your service weapon. Chicago cops are probably the toughest cops in the nation, but you're not going to win every fight. There are some seriously bad people walking the streets of Chicago — tough men who like to fight cops, contract killers with a street reputation, criminal sadists who like to beat people up and inflict pain — and it looks like some of them are migrating here.
As far as I can see, exposed weapons on untrained civilians aren't going to stop one of those kind of tough guys from taking them away from you.
Patrick Seery, Ruskin
With open arms | Jan. 25
No shame in adoption
Oprah Winfrey's recent introduction of her "secret half sister" Patricia struck a chord with my adoption colleagues and me. Frankly, I was disheartened to read the quote from Patricia and Oprah's birth mother, Vernita Lee, that she kept this bottled up inside her all these years because she felt her 1963 decision to place Patricia for adoption "was a terrible thing for me to do."
There is no shame or stigma in the courageous act of placing your child for adoption. To the contrary, it is the ultimate act of love and kindness a birth parent can bestow to place her precious loved one in the enveloping and sheltering embrace of a "forever family." Perhaps Lee's comments are a reflection of what was the prevailing thinking a generation ago, but not today.
Over the years, increased public awareness, better education and a trend nationwide toward open adoptions all have coalesced to remove any shame historically associated with placing a child for adoption. Today there are more resources than ever for finding one's birth family and, across the country, laws are changing in favor of open adoption. For adoptees in Florida of the legal age of 18, there is Florida's Adoption Reunion Registry, an excellent starting point to search for one's birth parent.
The message is that adoption in the 21st century is not about secrets and lies. One's family of origin need not be kept locked up for decades. Let us put the true story of Oprah Winfrey and her "secret half sister" to its best use — as a starting point to elevate and advance the discussion of open adoption. In doing so, we will melt away stereotypes and increase adoption awareness.
Steven Hurwitz and Jeanne T. Tate, Heart of Adoptions Inc., Tampa
Pension overhaul urged | Fed. 2
Little regard for workers
First, it is not a new idea to require Florida Retirement System members to contribute a portion of their paycheck for pensions. I began my teaching career in 1974, when state retirement system members contributed 3 percent of their paycheck toward retirement. It was the Legislature that changed the system to the current noncontributory model that took effect in 1975.
Second, I take exception to the notion that if I am to contribute toward my retirement, these funds are used to offset Gov. Rick Scott's proposed reduction of property taxes. My money should go to my retirement, not "maybe" rolled over into the retirement fund as the article states.
The article goes on to state the governor wants to level the playing field between the public and private sectors for retirement. How about we first level the playing field with regards to salary and income potential?
Sadly, our legislators and the governor are showing what little regard they have for those of us who work every day to make Florida a better place.
Marshall Koppel, Clearwater
Struggling to pay bills
I'm still trying to come to terms with the harsh reality that Rick Scott was elected to govern Florida, and now I read he wants public servants to take a pay cut to contribute to their own pensions. This is what happens when a corporate bigwig takes control: no concept of the daily financial struggle of the working class.
I am one of those public servants who has had no pay increase since 2006. I'm a Pinellas County elementary school teacher. In fact, in this current school year, I watched my pay decrease even further due to a rise in health insurance premiums. This despite the fact that gasoline, grocery and energy prices have gone up year after year.
Jana Bailey, St. Petersburg
Driver 'wanted to die,' wife says | Feb. 1
Remember those in pain
This article demonstrates what living with chronic back pain can do to a person. I wonder if all the judgmental pill mill people out there can even imagine what living with chronic back pain is like.
People literally have to plan their day around pain. Pain medication is a matter of getting to the grocery store or not. Surgery is not an option for most back pain sufferers. So stop judging doctors who try to help those in pain and pray for the people who abuse drugs and alcohol just because they can.
Pamela Ericson, St. Petersburg
Health law struck down | Feb. 1
Judge Roger Vinson stated: "Never before has Congress required that everyone buy a product from a private company." While I realize this is referring to Congress in Washington, I find the statement hypocritical. I must purchase vehicle insurance from a private company in order to renew my vehicle registration. What's the difference? State level or federal? I must buy my electricity from a private company; no choice there.
Can the health law be improved? Yes. We need a single-payer system. Funny how you hear "keep the government out of our business" until a disaster happens or stimulus money is put on the table.
Christina Ennist, New Port Richey
Consider all mandates
Someone should tell Attorney General Pam Bondi to read the preamble of the Constitution she is purportedly upholding with her lawsuit against the health law.
It's the part about "promote the general welfare" I guess she overlooked.
Since she is against government mandated purchase of insurance, doesn't that mean that the Florida law mandating auto insurance is just as unconstitutional? Why hasn't that law been challenged? Why is it constitutional for the Florida government to mandate that I purchase insurance to insure someone else's losses but at the same time it is unconstitutional for me to have to buy into protection from impossibly large medical costs?
The Supreme Court should consider all government mandated insurance when deciding this case.
Dan Bobczynski, Clearwater
On the recent judicial decision that the individual mandate portions of Obamacare are unconstitutional: If the federal government cannot force us to become customers of a certain industry (in this case, the health care industry), I would ask the Florida Department of Education be forced, by Florida's attorney general, to comply to this same standard.
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and the new end-of-term exams are created and graded by Pearson Education Inc. for a profit. Thus, students (and by extension, parents) are forced to participate as customers of Pearson Education Inc. by having to take these mandatory tests in public schools.
I find it odd that to graduate from a public school, a student is forced to become a customer of a private, for-profit corporation.
Adam Graham, St. Petersburg