'Our hearts are broken' | Sept. 23
U.S. should follow Australia's lead
Another mass shooting, and we continue to be fed foolish solutions by the media and the "very serious people" who populate the chattering classes.
Video games, we're assured, are part of the problem, and mental health issues need to be addressed. The real solution apparently cannot even be mentioned.
Look at Australia. After 13 similarly horrific gun massacres in 18 years, their conservative lawmakers enacted real gun control legislation in 1996 and there has not been another incident since. They have video gaming on a level similar to our own, and mental illnesses afflict their population as well. The same can be noted about the rest of the civilized world, which agrees that "civilized" means controlling access to firearms.
As long as weapons manufacturers and their lobbyists can buy some of our legislators and frighten the others, the carnage will continue.
William Adams, St. Petersburg
Too many deaths | Sept. 20, letter
We already have gun laws
Our Founding Fathers' intention was to acknowledge and establish "the right of the people to keep and bear arms" as a fundamental, God-given right of all law-abiding citizens, not only in order to protect from tyranny from the likes of King George, but also for the purpose of personal self-defense.
The 2008 Heller decision by the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that right, and the right to keep and bear arms is now unquestionably the law of the land.
The court also stated that this right is subject to regulation, such as requiring concealed carry licenses and prohibiting felons and the seriously mentally ill from possessing firearms. Such laws are already in effect.
The murderer at the Washington Navy Yard was prohibited by law from possessing firearms, according to reports, but he slipped through the system. His firearm was a popular pump-action shotgun. He smuggled the gun and ammunition into the Yard illegally.
The laws are already on the books, and we cannot haphazardly keep passing more antigun laws that serve no purpose but to infringe upon the Second Amendment. That would be in violation of our right to keep and bear arms.
Lee Hanson, Hudson
Bus driver off route as texting inquiry continues | Sept. 21
Technology to the rescue
This article about an accusation that a school bus driver was texting while driving a bus full of students got me thinking of a simple solution.
Since cellphones can determine movement through their built-in GPS, it should be easy for phone manufacturers to modify their operating systems to disable the texting feature any time movement is sensed. This would seem to be simple enough to do and at a small cost. The hard part is finding a manufacturer with the courage to make the change.
I believe that once one manufacturer enables this feature, others will follow. The insurance companies should also show courage by putting pressure on these manufacturers to disable the texting feature when motion is detected.
Driving is a responsibility that requires our full attention when behind the wheel. This simple fix will not only save lives, but is sure to reduce accidents and insurance premiums as well.
Ken Gagliano, Clearwater
Loser of the week | Sept. 22
Murphy isn't the loser
I feel it was a mistake and an injustice to call Amanda Murphy "Loser of the Week." The real loser is Republican Bill Gunter, her opponent in the race to fill Mike Fasano's Florida House seat in District 36.
Republican Fasano is an honorable public servant who believed in working across the aisle in order to help his constituents. The fact that he could not bring himself to endorse his own party's candidate is an implicit endorsement of Murphy.
Hal Chase, Hudson
Attack on health law rejected | Sept. 24
Coverage for all
The next time you are sitting in a doctor's office with your sick child or visiting your aunt with cancer at the best facility available, think of the millions of people with no health insurance.
Are these people the "mooches of society" who are on welfare? No, they are millions of middle-class, hard-working people who are self-employed or work for a company with no insurance — one in four, in Florida.
It boggles the mind to hear Republicans, who are otherwise basically good people, express not an ounce of empathy or compassion for the millions without insurance. I see banners, "Leave my health insurance alone." I agree. Leave my opportunity for health insurance alone. Obamacare is a lifesaver for millions of people in Florida alone — yet based solely on the fact that it is a Democratic law, Republicans are doing everything possible to sabotage.
Cheryl Colvin, Odessa
Government saved the day | Sept. 22, editorial
Extending a helping hand
As a recovering conservative, I nevertheless appreciate your relatively well-written editorial about the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The so-called intervention vaguely bothered me until I read your comprehensive editorial. The intervention was a good idea, and it's working.
An analogy: I am against picking up any person (or business) who can get up on his own. But I favor extending a hand that can be grasped in an effort to rescue oneself. And I am glad that the government extended a hand to help prevent a hard fall.
Alan Jude Murley, Tampa
Put Florida schools on right course | Sept. 22, commentary
Get the standards right
Thanks to former Gov. Charlie Crist for setting the facts straight. The naysayers on Common Core have evidently not even looked at the standards and how well-written they are to prepare students for life, college and career.
Check out the reliability and validity of what these standards will do for education in America and then formulate an opinion. It's the way of the future and the way to strengthen our nation's future citizens.
Carol Hess, Hudson