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Use education to keep children safe around guns

Re: Getting a lock on gun safety, editorial, Oct. 20.

Here we go with the children and guns routine. I know I'm tired of hearing about it. I have found the ultimate cure for people who are worried about children being hurt by guns in their household: Don't have kids!

I raised five girls and one boy and have always owned guns. The kids knew where I kept them. They knew they were off limits to anyone! They were told what they would do and what they were for. The fear of how deadly they were was instilled in them. The children who get hurt or or killed by guns are just being children. They are curious when they come upon something like a gun. If they haven't been educated by their parents or the person having the gun in their house, they have no idea of what can happen.

I firmly believe that trigger guards are fine in certain circumstances, but if the gun is in the household for protection then what good is it if an intruder breaks in and you have to get to it in a hurry? Is the intruder going to sit and listen to the radio for a few minutes while you remove the trigger guard, or go the place where you have hidden your cartridges away from where you have your weapon.

Let's please be realistic. It's a big bad world out there and we all need to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Try education. It may not work well in our schools, but it works wonders in the home.

Terry E. Gould, St. Petersburg

The folly of more gun laws

Re: Two men of like mind on gun control, by Martin Dyckman, Oct. 16.

In the first place, cliches have been abused by both sides of the issue, so I'd like to just stick to the facts and avoid emotional appeals. In the case of Rep. Les Miller, D-Tampa, as I recall, there were calls for more laws even before a suspect was arrested.

This proves that the anti-gun side is so wrapped up in the fantasy that what we need are just a few more laws and/or that the shooter would never have acted if these laws were on the books that they fail to realize that what they are really asking for is total disarmament of the American public.

No matter how many more laws were passed, you can't prove that the shooting would not have taken place. If you want more laws when, for all we knew then, the shooter could have been a felon in possession of a firearm (a serious federal as well as state charge), could have stolen the gun or whatever, then how many more laws could you want now that we should know all the facts?

At least your side could get the facts straight before it piped up. I feel sorry for Les Miller and for the victims of criminal activity. Nevertheless, it seems to me that Handgun Control Inc. and all other gun-control advocacy groups are more intent on keeping the issue alive than in going after violent felons who perpetrate these acts they deplore.

Leonard Martino, Tampa

Gun control is necessary

Re: Two men of like mind on gun control, by Martin Dyckman.

Martin Dyckman's Oct. 16 column is very informative. I was glad to learn of the efforts of state Rep. Les Miller, D-Tampa, in drafting sensible gun control legislation. The looseness of Florida's gun laws is a cause for shame and fear. Unregulated sales at gun shows mean that felons or escapees from insane asylums can buy guns, no real questions asked.

Every person over the age of 1 year has, at least once, felt rage. It is too easy to pick up a gun and use it before the rage subsides. We law-abiding citizens are appalled at the claptrap spewed forth by those who seem to want a heavily armed populace. Even gun enthusiast Charlton Heston should be able to figure out that sensible gun laws would benefit all of us.

I've always had a rule in my home: no guns. Why did I make this rule? For one thing, there have always been children in my home; for another, I knew my decision would protect the members of my household.

Beth Stiles, St. Petersburg

Don't restrict our freedoms

Re: Brady brings gun control message to USF,

Oct. 16.

To Rep. Les Miller, D-Tampa, James Brady and their campaign for more handgun legislation: Gentlemen, with all due respect, I believe you truly believe in your quest. However, the American way is the way of freedom and to deny or restrict anyone any freedom is, in your own words, "an abomination and not worthy of the greatest nation on earth."

Charles W. Pedrick, Largo

Details needed in prisoner release

Re: 750 more inmates may be released, Oct. 16.

I think the fear generated by the release of 750 inmates should be offset with the knowledge that at least 750 others will be going into prison. We know the prison population is increasing every year and we're told the recidivism rate of those released is down. So common sense tells me that we're not in any greater danger of becoming victims; in fact, the danger should be reduced.

I wish the Department of Corrections would let us decide how "tough a group" these inmates are by telling us exactly how many killers, rapists and child molesters are being released into each county. Then anyone who gives a rat's rump about this can decide for her-/himself if their release "would pose a danger" that they should be concerned about. In fact, it wouldn't be all that difficult to give us a complete list, including the number of burglars, drug dealers and car thieves.

Telling us the large numbers and leaving out the details as they do can be very misleading and cause unnecessary fear. I think most people would prefer to know the details about something as simple as a prisoner release so they could decide for themselves the danger it will pose.

Henry J. Booher, Clearwater

VA is a bureaucratic mess

Re: Families ask VA: Did you treat our loved ones properly? Oct. 5.

The one, obvious and undoubtable fact about the VA that shows through this article is that it is an entrenched bureaucracy. As a case manager for head-injured adults, I have found this bureaucratic maze to be impenetrable when attempting to arrange adequate care for veterans with real needs because no one person is responsible for or accountable to anyone outside of the system itself.

Case in point: One lowly instructor in the armed forces was head-injured by an equipment malfunction. Honorably discharged, this veteran was denied treatment, misdiagnosed and given the wrong diagnostic code for his injuries over a 20-year-time frame and stonewalled at every attempt at redress. The problem with this case, with which I am intimately connected, revolves around attempting to secure medical treatment for a number of problems related to his initial injury.

One of the common sequels to traumatic brain injury is a supersensitivity to sound called hyperaccousis. For this veteran, normally tolerable sound levels become occasions for excruciating pain and (due to the "startle effect") self-inflicted injury such as broken teeth and bones when reacting to such mundane things as public address systems, music and TV sets. These are the facts, simply stated.

The main difficulty arises when this particular veteran needs medical care. My question to the system is and has been: Where may this man find medical treatment in a facility that will not kill or injure him when he requires it? Although this problem has been documented for years and there is no doubt the veteran is entitled to the care, no one in the system can answer the question. Nor will anyone take responsibility for attempting an answer.

To further illustrate the Catch-22 mentality involved, this veteran, no matter how complete his record, may not even attempt to access any outpatient treatment in a non-VA facility unless he first submits himself to an additional inpatient evaluation in a VA facility filled with PA systems, TV sets and loud, sudden noises _ clearly a health hazard to my client.

It is unconscionable that this government should avoid its responsibilities by instituting an impenetrable maze of self-serving, bureaucratic rules which enable it to shirk its duty to those who offered up their bodies to keep the peace.

Tom Clarke, Clearwater

Cartoon eloquently tackles tobacco

It was so great to see Pat Oliphant's cartoon ("The first tobacco settlement") on your Oct. 21 opinion page. He expressed in a 4.5-inch-by-6.5-inch section of the page what all of the thousands of pages of the congressional records, the public health studies and the tobacco denials reported.

He did it much better. He made it simple so everyone who can read will understand it. Hopefully, many of them will act on it. This would be especially true for small children who are defenseless if the adults are smoking in the home.

The old adage, "A picture is worth a thousand words," is certainly true in this cartoon. It is worth many thousands of words.

It could also save thousands of lives.

Too bad it can't be put on billboards adjacent to Joe Camel.

J. M. Neill, St. Petersburg

How can we avoid such a tragedy?

Re: I believe now they are at peace, Oct. 21.

We hope there now is peace. There certainly was not much peace for John and Dorothea Beaver when they were living. A few weeks ago a 50-year-old alligator was killed because of the fear that it might harm humans. An 80-year-old human being was killed because of the fear that she might not be properly cared for by humans.

There is something wrong with the social and medical fabric and systems of a country that leads to such a tragic end. There must be a solution, a level of care somewhere between what Mr. Beaver provided for his wife and the very expensive, oftentimes inadequate conditions of a nursing home.

Richard Detwiler, Palm Harbor

Arrest the tailgaters

The so-called Wolf Patrol, out in packs on weekends to collar drunks, speeders, etc., is okay as far as it goes.

But now police are following school buses to see who doesn't stop and issue tickets, which is right and proper. But let's get after the tailgaters, those idiots who are always too close to me on Route 19, 3 to 5 feet behind at 45 to 55 miles per hour. These idiots don't realize their reaction time at those speeds will not prevent them from banging my new car, inflicting damages, hurting me and others in chain reaction collisions.

Arrest these fools.

Frank Speck Jr., New Port Richey

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