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Not all agree that proliferation of guns is "madness'

Thanks for your March 2 editorial Florida's gun madness. Although you clearly do not understand the issues involved, I applaud the fact that you printed the names and phone numbers of the senators who continue to protect our freedoms. I took the opportunity to use those names and numbers to personally thank each of them.

Bradley K. Grover Sr., Seminole

Re: Florida's gun madness, editorial, March 2.

I took your advice today and called Sens. Malcolm Beard, John Grant and John McKay. But I didn't ask them why. I already know why. Rather, I called to thank them for the courage of their convictions.

They, like me and all other responsible gun owners, are fed up with the overreaction, misinformation and hysteria associated with the facts of gun control. Gun control has never worked in the past, doesn't work now and won't work in the future.

Why can't you see it?

Sam Pannill, St. Petersburg

You still don't get it! We don't want government controls. We don't want government gun controls. The question is, why do you continue to print stupid editorials like Florida's gun madness? I called the supporters on no gun controls and supported them.

Give us a break.

John Marko, St. Petersburg

Congratulations! Not to your anonymous editorial writer but to state Sens. Malcolm Beard, John Grant and John McKay. And thanks also to the other seven committee majority members who sided with the free citizens of Florida against the pro-crime, authoritarian state socialists.

The truth is that gun ownership and the right to self defense are rights of citizenship, just the same as the right to speak, worship or vote. The right of citizens to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

Armed citizens reduce crime. Laws disarming the citizenry such as those passed in New York or Washington, D.C., cause the murder rate to climb. The murder rate in Florida is going down thanks in part to citizens armed with Concealed Carry Permits and the element of doubt that creates in the minds of Florida's criminals. It is safer to rob unarmed tourists, if you can be sure they are unarmed tourists.

Thomas E. Mulkey, St. Petersburg

Thank you for providing the telephone numbers for the three local state senators who were among those who "killed five "modest' gun control measures."

I called all three to offer congratulations and my sincere thanks for maintaining a sensible position in the face of all the "liberal" pressure. In all three cases I was told that the vast majority of the calls they received were in the same vein.

Sen. McKay's way of stating what should be obvious to anyone may seem "quaint" to the editors, but it is the plain unvarnished truth. Anyone who doubts it should try living in New York City (as I did for 42 years), or Washington, D.C. Gun controls protect the lawless, who have little fear of our emasculated legal system. The only thing that will deter them is the fear that their intended victims might be armed and dangerous.

Joseph R. Gately, St. Petersburg

After reading some recent letters perpetrating the myth that tighter gun controls will bring an end to crime, I'd like to cite the results of three surveys conducted recently.

A nationwide survey of command officers by the National Association of Chiefs of Police in 1989 found that 90 percent agreed that criminals obtain their guns from illegal sources. Ninety percent also believe that banning all firearms would not reduce criminals' ability to obtain guns; 88 percent believed there would be no reduction in gun-related crime with such a ban.

Researchers in a study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice point to evidence that armed citizens are the deterrent that criminals fear. An overwhelming majority of criminals will attempt to find out if their intended victim is armed. A full three-quarters of all burglars will avoid occupied dwellings for fear of being shot.

Professor Gary Kleck of Florida State University estimates that annually, 1,500 to 2,800 felons are legally killed in shootings by civilians and 8,000 to 16,000 criminals are wounded. Yet Kleck found in an estimated 2-million instances, civilians used their guns to scare off or apprehend criminals without injuring anyone.

Based on the evidence presented in these surveys, it is evident that it is the armed citizen who is responsible for deterring the most robberies, rapes and assaults. Clearly, criminals fear armed citizens, not more gun laws.

Michael J. Henry, St. Petersburg

Other views

As a visitor to Florida, it is difficult to enter the contentious issue of gun control lest one is accused of misunderstanding, meddling or malice.

Your March 1 issue carried a story titled Rapid-fire shotguns restricted, which is, I suppose, a small step in the right direction. Politically correct, it allows the administration to claim to be on the side of the angels.

The issue also recorded the defeat, in committee, of a bill to contain _ and hopefully to curtail _ the free availability of assault weapons. The bill also proposed several other sensible restrictions on firearms.

The NRA, it seems, never tires of mouthing the tattered and time-worn statements about the rights of "law-abiding" citizens. The same issue records the deaths of two citizens by an otherwise purportedly "law-abiding" citizen, armed with a rifle (Ex beau's obsession leads to three deaths) and covers details of the death at an abortion clinic (Abortion foe's defense sows doubt). I cannot remember a case of a "law-abiding" citizen in a shoot-out with a criminal.

Sen. Howard Metzenbaum stated there had been 300,000 gun deaths since 1968. Geraldo just stated that 1992 saw 12,946 handgun deaths. Last November, I quoted James Michener when he commented on 12,000 handgun deaths a year: "That's the way America wants it." It appears he was right.

J. L. Foley, St. Petersburg

Having lived in Britain and Canada, where handguns and automatic weapons are outlawed, I am astounded by the attitude of the American public and its lawmakers toward their almost unrestricted use.

On March 3 the St. Petersburg Times carried the news of the failure of the Florida lawmakers to enact six modest gun control measures. And in the same edition were two advertisements for handguns and automatic rifles.

Don't the American people care about the terrible slaughter brought on by guns that goes on daily on their streets and in their homes?

This is not 1850 when there were few laws or law officers and guns were needed for protection.

This is 1994 when 13-year-old kids carry guns to school; when teenagers shoot an ice cream vendor for no apparent reason. When the police are killed, even though they are wearing flak jackets.

People are shot just because they blew their horn at an errant driver, or knocked on a door for help.

Is this really the kind of society that Americans want? Why aren't you demanding that your government representatives amend the laws and stop the sale of weapons immediately, or get out of office?

As someone who has a great affection for this country and its warm and generous citizens, it is incredible to witness the destruction of your society, not to mention the very great anxiety I and most visitors feel when exposed to such criminality.

As a friend, an ally and an admirer, I would appeal to you all to rethink the Second Amendment. Remove the guns from the general public, support your police forces who are placed in harm's way every day, but are still doing such a good job of law enforcement.

J. Powell, St. Petersburg

"Ivory tower elitists'?

Re: The Florida Citrus Industry's greatest hits, Feb. 20, on the selection of Rush Limbaugh as spokesman for the Florida Citrus Industry.

Your commentary states that, "Mr. Limbaugh personally offends about half the people on the planet and seems to appeal most to listenership that buys their preferred beverage in handy six-packs." I would suggest that your commentary just might offend the other half of the population, including yours truly. Mr. Limbaugh is, first and foremost, an excellent entertainer, as evidenced by the fact that his radio program has attracted the largest audience of its type in the history of that medium. In addition, Mr. Limbaugh happens to be a best-selling author, a fact that doesn't fit too well with your characterization of his audience. In fact, I really can't recall the last time I saw someone in the book store or library with a beer in his hand. Nor can I seem to remember any bars which tried to attract a larger clientele by lining the walls with book shelves.

Your attempt to discredit Mr. Limbaugh by ridiculing his audience is, at best, ill-advised. At worst, such comments could be considered nothing more than a cheap shot by an arrogant, ivory tower elitist envious of someone who has truly made his mark, not only as an entertainer, but also as a political and social critic.

Clark T. Rollins, Tarpon Springs

Just when I had finally convinced myself Florida's residents no longer deserved the reputation for being unintelligent, bigoted and narrow minded, you dashed all my hopes with the printing of the Timesline telephone results of whether Rush Limbaugh should be the Florida Citrus Industry's spokesperson. Unbelievable!

I guess, knowing they'd have Floridians' overwhelming approval, the industry must have faced a tough decision deciding between using Rush Limbaugh or David Duke. Tomato juice, anyone?

Marlene Packler, Clearwater

Rush Limbaugh. Who?

Greg Helpern, St. Petersburg Beach

In your continuing effort to cast Rush Limbaugh in unfavorable light with slanted news stories and an inaccurate editorial, you have chosen to publish an untruthful letter.

It is apparent that this Feb. 24 letter writer and your staff do not choose to hear the truth. If you did you would not have published his attack claiming the commentator "lashed out at the senior citizens of this country as "senior geezers.' " In fact, this term was coined by a woman caller who is herself a senior citizen. Limbaugh terms the older generation as "seasoned citizens," and he has expressed the greatest respect for them.

Limbaugh does not refer to "women as femi-Nazis," but only a small handful of radical zealots who press for abortion as the only option for unwanted pregnancies.

When will you start to live up to your motto"merely to tell the truth"?

Pat Jennings, Dunedin

Share your opinions

We invite readers to write to us. Letters for publication should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, (FAX number, 893-8675), (E-mail, CompuServe: 73174,3344). Letters for publication on Tampa-area topics should be addressed to Letters to the Editor, 1000 N. Ashley Dr., Suite 700, Tampa, FL 33602, (FAX number, 226-3381).

Letters must include the name, address and telephone number of the writer. Letters may be edited for clarity, taste and length.

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