Americans have other rights, too. Among them: life and liberty | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Wednesday’s letters to the editor.
Aaliyah Banda, 11, places a bracelet in front of Uziyah Garcia's photo, one of the victims killed in last week's school shooting, at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Aaliyah Banda, 11, places a bracelet in front of Uziyah Garcia's photo, one of the victims killed in last week's school shooting, at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) [ JAE C. HONG | AP ]
Published Jun. 1, 2022

Other rights Americans have: life and liberty

Children begged for help | May 28

As a lawyer, I have made my career standing up for individuals, so I am the first to acknowledge that the Second Amendment certainly provides liberties and protections.

Steve Yerrid
Steve Yerrid [ Times (2019) ]

But America’s founders recognized even more fundamental rights, bestowed by the Creator himself: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those rights have been horribly taken from 19 beautiful children, their teachers and their families in Uvalde, Texas.

When I was a student at Georgetown Law School, I had the privilege of working in the U.S. Senate. Much has changed since then. Partisan agendas and personal attacks threaten to paralyze the Congress, despite the overwhelming will of the American people to stop these mass shootings.

Doing nothing would represent a tortured view of our nation’s values and true American grit. Since our beginnings, America and its courageous people have shown the strength and solutions to make our world better.

If we cannot move ourselves to act now, hard upon the murder of those innocents and their teachers, may God have mercy upon us.

Steve Yerrid, Tampa

The writer, a Tampa attorney, took the lead in the State of Florida’s case against Big Tobacco, successfully defended the harbor pilot on the freighter that struck the Sunshine Skyway and has handled more than 250 cases that resulted in settlements of more than $1 million.

You bet they’re angry

Let not our hearts grow numb | Column, May 30

Peggy Noonan rails at the Democrats for being full of rage over the school shooting in Texas. Well, she is right. Democrats are full of rage and bitterness at yet another dreadful shooting tragedy in a school. Their hearts are breaking along with everyone else’s in this country at such a needless horror. But their anger is great because they know nothing will be done. Nothing will happen to mitigate the same thing occurring again because most Republicans in Congress will never vote for any kind of sensible control of guns in this country. So turn your railing where it belongs, Peggy. At your Republican Party.

Maryhelen Clague, Zephyrhills

This will happen again

Biden visits grieving town | May 30

I understand the outrage of parents when their children may have been injured and dying while the onsite police waited for the tactical team. The officers had reportedly been trained to put on their protective vests and immediately seek to neutralize the shooter. They should have tried. But they did not act. Why not? Were they all cowards? I doubt it. They knew that their handguns were no match for an assault rifle designed to efficiently kill humans. They would be reluctant to admit it, maybe even to themselves, but they likely doubted that they would be able to kill the shooter before many of them were badly wounded or killed. Drills with no danger of injury are one thing. Facing a shooter with an assault rifle in a classroom with a single point of access is another. As a Vietnam veteran, I understand the fear. When the team with shields and assault rifles arrived, action was taken and the shooter was killed. There are a lot of people who think they are brave until faced with superior firepower and a high likelihood of injury or death. Regardless of what TV and the movies show, military veterans and police know that superior firepower usually prevails, at least initially. As long as homicidal shooters have assault rifles, this scenario is likely to repeat.

Robert H. More, Riverview

We know the next shooter

How do ‘red flag orders’ work? | May 30

History and research show that elementary teachers and school social workers are most likely to identify detached, alienated, and nihilistic individuals prone to indiscriminate violence. Getting mental health intervention is usually not available. At risk youth are routinely denied meaningful treatment interventions because of the mental health bureaucracy (confidentiality, no crisis services, no follow-up). As more indiscriminate violence occurs, it demonstrates, how barriers to mental health service serves no purpose.

Each state needs to clear impediments for youth and their families to get help quickly and easily. To ensure effective early intervention, when parents and students are most receptive, it is imperative to remove needless mental health blockades to service. We need open communication and service collaboration between schools, law enforcement, community programs and families. It must begin in preschool and elementary school. It is not going to occur unless the barriers are removed.

Spend your days with Hayes

Spend your days with Hayes

Subscribe to our free Stephinitely newsletter

Columnist Stephanie Hayes will share thoughts, feelings and funny business with you every Monday.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

Bruce Tabashneck, Fort Myers

The writer has been a social worker in metropolitan Detroit for over 35 years. He recently retired to Florida.

Lessons unlearned

Florida backs off Parkland lessons | May 29

While Gov. Ron DeSantis is pandering to the lowest common denominator, he and his acolytes are failing to lead, failing to protect our kids. I have taught in Florida, and the reality is that many students do not come from homes where they are parented to learn self-acceptance and personal responsibility, much less empathy toward their classmates. All teens in Florida need and deserve a fulsome education, which includes regard for oneself and one’s community. DeSantis and his venerators in the Legislature must stop stoking fear and ignorance, and instead model courage and wisdom. Now that would be leadership.

Patricia Blair, St. Petersburg