During the recent National Rifle Association convention, a seminar titled “Home Defense Concepts” was conducted by Rob Pincus, a so-called “gun safety advocate and firearms instructor.”

Pincus recommended to attendees that a “quick-access safe (containing guns of course, loaded and ready to be fired) be placed in the closet of your kids’ room.”

His rationale for this advice is “that in a home invasion, it makes sense to have a gun stored in a bedroom you’re instinctively moving to defend.” This mind-boggling proposal comes soon after a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in Kentucky.

Not concerned with the real possibility of a child managing to make entry into a “quick-access safe” and playing with the guns, as the Kentucky 5-year-old did, he dismisses it as an insignificant problem.

Pincus’ classes “focus on scenarios when the homeowner is surprised and required to make split-second decisions.”

His preference would be to instinctively rush into the child’s room, open a locked safe and arm himself, not knowing where the possible intruder may be or if he has a weapon.

There is no mention of dialing 911 at any point to call for law enforcement officers, armed and trained to deal with these situations.

Pincus advocates that “gun owners must be prepared to use lethal force,” a shoot-first-ask-questions-later philosophy that has often resulted in loss of innocent lives.

The subliminal message at the seminar and throughout the convention was, “Whether or not you may need them, buy more guns. This paid advertisement sponsored by your friendly gun manufacturers.”

Sam Kamin

Cumberland

Corporate tax evaders help weaken social safety net

I passionately share the concerns about unemployment and the social safety net that Ann Roberts from Alfred expressed in her April 30 letter, “Amnesty bill would ensure needy in U.S. get even less.”

However, I think immigration reform is actually one of the answers to our concerns.

The currently proposed immigration reform legislation is a bill that provides a tough but fair roadmap to citizenship for millions of individuals who are already living and working in this country just like you and me.  

Denying an opportunity to the 11 million Americans-in-waiting who are working hard and contributing to our schools, communities and economy will not secure the social safety net for citizens.

I believe that closing tax loopholes that allow corporations to avoid paying billions in taxes every year, reforming our tax system to ask the wealthiest Americans to start paying their fair share in income tax, and mindfully shifting priorities to invest in job creation and quality schools are undoubtedly better answers to the concerns of our middle class than thoughtlessly demonizing hardworking immigrants.  

Immigrants are a part of the middle and working class in this country; they work alongside us, seek to support their families and contribute every day with their labor, taxes and civic participation to our country.

Only by working together have we built the United States we see today.

This is an issue we need to work on together not only to make our country work but to make us prosperous again. Their concerns are also our concerns.  

Shutting out immigrants who are striving to take full responsibility for their role in this nation, while allowing corporations to evade their tax responsibility, is not right and it’s just not the answer.  

Immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship is an incredible opportunity to create sustainable, just solutions to the pressing issues that most Americans face.

Jacob Smith

Yarmouth

Quick action on FAA delays shows Congress’ hypocrisy

The Budget Control Act of 2011, more fondly referred to as the “sequester,” finally inconvenienced some relatively powerful people: members of Congress, businesspeople and the leisure travelers of America.

All were in an uproar over Federal Aviation Administration furloughs and long delays in aircraft departures and arrivals.

For the first time in recent memory, both houses of Congress responded in prompt bipartisan fashion. And while the White House bemoaned the sequester, they announced the president would sign this legislation.

The vast majority of the members of Congress voted to exempt the FAA from the restrictions of the sequester.

Unlike every other department and program, the FAA will be allowed to shift funds around to end air traffic controller furloughs in order to end the unnecessary delays in air travel.

In the meantime, no such relief has been afforded programs that negatively impact the most vulnerable.

Programs like Head Start, food assistance for the elderly, cancer treatment and unemployment compensation, to name a few, will continue to reduce needed services.

There is a lesson to be learned here: Congress responds to its own self-interests and those of the powerful — one more example of the rank hypocrisy of the representatives of the people.

It is worth noting that our own U.S. representative, Chellie Pingree, did not participate in this travesty. She was one of a handful who voted “no” on this shameful piece of work.

I, for one, will remember this on Election Day 2014.

Kevin Sweeney

Cape Elizabeth

Yanking junk food subsidy? Let’s target developers, too

Supporters of a bill prohibiting the use of food stamps to purchase junk food argue that taxpayer dollars should not be used to buy food that can cause obesity and health problems.

To assuage my concerns that this proposal unfairly singles out only the most vulnerable Maine residents, I hope the bill’s sponsors will broaden its reach to include all taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Specifically, it seems only right that such a ban on junk food should also apply to subsidies given to developers who build hotels, restaurants and retail stores where junk food might be sold. Surely, the health of hotel guests and restaurant patrons must be just as important to the bill’s supporters as the health of food stamp recipients.

Tom Walsh

Portland