Sunday, March 04, 2018 1:00 am
Letters to the editor
Mixed messages about bad weather
The safety message we have been trying to get out about floodwaters is: “Turn Around Don't Drown.”
Why then do the newspaper and TV continually post pictures and footage of vehicles driving through high water? It is a bad and dangerous example to show, suggesting it is a harmless thing to do.
Also, I find it ridiculous that every time it snows, there are miles of recreational trails (on the Rivergreenway) promptly cleared while there are miles of sidewalk and bridges where people really need to walk to get to the store, work, etc., left uncleared. The bridge sidewalks are then compounded by plows adding even more snow on them and left to freeze, making it very difficult and for some impossible to navigate.
Vouchers help maintain separation
Concerning the column “Voucher opposition article of faith for pastor” in The Journal Gazette Feb. 11:
In the 1850s the state of Indiana was complicit in compromising churches' role in education by implementing what amounts to a tax penalty on families whose children attend private schools. This obstructed family access to school choice or, in many cases, caused a financial hardship for families that fund two school systems in order to exercise their right to religious liberty.
A paradigm shift from funneling children of families with limited personal finances to state-sponsored public schools to providing for all families to choose between private or public schools restores religious liberty to all and effects legitimate “church-state separation” with regard to schools.
Jeffrey J. Nix
Trump's land policy makes us less great
Healthy communities, spiritual well-being and economic vitality are values coveted by Americans, supported in large measure by America's system of parks and protected public lands. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has shrunk our national monuments and undermined public lands protections, placing what we value as a nation in jeopardy.
Bears Ears (seen at left) and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which were reduced drastically, are prime examples. Both protect cultural landscapes containing biological and archaeological treasures, including sacred Native American sites and fossil records from a time before history was recorded. They also provide recreational and economic value, supporting local communities and contributing to a multibillion-dollar national outdoor industry.
For centuries, Native Americans have celebrated the land as a spiritual source that holds our stories and nourishes our souls. Before Vice President Mike Pence became part of the Trump administration, as Indiana governor he seemed to know these values as well. He talked about keeping “Indiana's unmatched natural beauty ... intact for generations to come ... to remind Hoosiers where we came from, and to cherish the Indiana we inherited.” He had it right. Indiana public lands connect us to our history and enrich our quality of life.
And so it is discouraging that the administration he is now part of is dismantling our public lands, and significant spiritual and cultural connections in the process.
I urge the president and vice president to reverse course. Ironically, by taking away pieces of our national monuments, they are undermining precisely what makes America great.
We must take a stand against gun interests
What will it take for our captive Congress to throw off the shackles imposed on it by the National Rifle Association and our invested gun manufacturers? What will it take for our legislators, state and national, to stand up on their hind legs and declare, “Enough! Stop the mass killings of our children and innocent bystanders!”
When will our elected representatives begin to put the safety of our children ahead of their desired re-election? Will it take a new Congress, come November?
Together, we have to get the proverbial ball rolling.
Who is it that just has to own and carry around a weapon that's solely designed to kill people? Does he/she realize that gun could be stolen by a deranged individual or picked up and fired by a curious child? And is this a risk that gun owner is prepared to take? (One might also inquire whether such a risk is even his or hers to take.) And if the gun's hidden and locked up, what's the satisfaction in that possession?
I'm reminded of my dad's counsel when I was beginning to test my wings: “Remember: Your right to freely swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.” What's it going to take to stop the slaughter? Can we bear to forgo the mysterious satisfaction of carrying around an AR-15 rifle to avoid the murders of someone's children or innocent bystanders?
Voters can help end NRA stranglehold
The words “assault rifles” and “Republicans” go together like ham and eggs. When you start taking about assault rifles, you instantly start talking about Republicans.
There was a federal assault weapons ban from 1994 (under President Bill Clinton, a Democrat) until Sept. 13, 2004. The Republican Party, led by President George W. Bush, let the law expire; just like today, the Republican Party controlled the White House, House and Senate.
Now we have a Republican president who received around $30 million from the National Rifle Association. He showed up in Parkland, Florida and refused to meet with one of the students. He had a photo op then returned to his Mar-a-Lago club and it's been reported he and his wife attended a disco party. How sad is that? While families are burying their loved ones, he's at a party.
Obviously, the NRA has a stronghold on the Republican Party, and as long as Republicans are in charge, nothing is going to be done on any kind of gun control, especially assault rifles. In Florida you can buy an assault rifle when you are 18 and on the same day with no waiting period, but have to be 21 to purchase a handgun. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, has signed more pro-gun bills into law in one term than any other governor in Florida history and has an A+ rating with the NRA.
Republicans are going to say the shooter had a mental health problem and their other excuse, “Guns don't kill people, people do.” When the military sends our troops into war, they send them into war with a gun – guns kill people. They're saying the shooter may have a mental health problem, but in 2017, Trump signed an order revoking Obama-era gun checks for those with mental illness. This was another bill backed by the NRA.
The shooter, Nikolas Cruz, was seen in videos in a backyard with a gun and wearing a hat saying, “Make America Great Again.” If you want to make America great again and get sensible gun control laws, vote out Republicans in your state and in Washington in 2018; otherwise, nothing is going to get done. Also, if there is a Democrat who's not in favor of eliminating assault rifles, vote them out, too.
By the way, I do believe in the Second Amendment.
Founders' vision needs modern update
Altogether, the Founding Fathers did a remarkable job of writing the Constitution, based on history and the conditions they knew at the time.
There was no way they could have foreseen automobiles, airplanes, telephones, electrical power grids, nuclear energy, TV, computers and the Internet. However, when those developments arrived, the Constitution allowed legislators to establish rules for living safely with the new products.
For the Second Amendment, we know the conditions facing the Founders. The “arms” they knew were muzzle-loading rifles and single-shot pistols. An undisturbed expert rifleman might make two or three shots per minute. It would take an assembled militia to hold off a group of invaders.
Does anybody really believe that Washington or Madison would have wanted everyone to have an AR-15?
Maybe, after the latest tragedy, our legislators will have the common sense and courage to modernize gun laws of the 18th century.
Gordon E. Walter