January 18, 2013

Letters to the editor: 'Instant runoff' right for governor's race

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Voting results for each candidate are displayed Nov. 9, 2011, the day after Michael Brennan was elected mayor of Portland by ranked-choice voting. This system, in which voters express their preferences for more than their first choices, would be a good way to select the next governor of Maine, readers say.

2011 File Photo/Gregory Rec

The idea is so convoluted, so disturbing and so disconnected from reality that I thought, "They can't be serious." If, however, they are serious, then I propose that the NRA pay the salaries of these armed guards in the tens of thousands of schools across America. In other words, NRA, "put up or shut up."

As CNN's Fareed Zakaria correctly stated, the problem is simple: There are too many guns accessible to too many people in this country. America has 5 percent of the world's population, but 50 percent of its guns. Not surprisingly, we have 30 times more gun fatalities than France does.

This must change: We urgently need a huge reduction in the number of guns in our society, starting with military-style assault weapons of any kind. Australia did it. Why can't we? Put politics aside; legislate bold, new gun control laws; enforce them. Failure to do so is a travesty against all victims, past, present and future.

Is glamorized gun violence in entertainment a problem? Sure it is. Is mental health a perennial social issue? Sure it is. As a humanitarian society, we should and do care about these issues, but let us not be distracted; let us keep focused on the real problem: guns. Too many guns.

Philip Carlo Paratore

Portland

Consider the flaws in the "let's arm our teachers" movement that has sprung up in the wake of the tragedy at Newtown:

In this country we have a right to own guns. We also have the right not to own guns. What if a teacher doesn't want to own or carry a gun? Are teachers now obligated to purchase an expensive weapon and ammunition just to feel safe going to school?

What if a teacher is having a bad day and snaps? Instead of disciplining a child who is acting out, what if the teacher shoots the child instead? What if the gun misfires, wounding or killing a student or teacher? What if a child somehow steals a teacher's gun and uses it?

Consider the "Gunfight at the OK Corral" world that gun activists envision our country becoming. Hero teachers draw their guns in crowded classrooms, shooting dead the maniacal school shooter, and magically no one gets caught in the crossfire.

Innocents get killed in real gun battles. No one has perfect aim, especially under the duress of combat. Soldiers and police officers make mistakes -- are we expecting our school teachers to be alert at any moment that it will be their responsibility to shoot the bad guy, and not manage to kill or wound any of our children in the process?

What happens if a teacher kills an innocent while killing the shooter? Will the teacher be charged with manslaughter or negligence? What if one teacher mistakes the bad guy and shoots the teacher defending students from the bad-guy shooter?

How will the courts handle such cases?

Let's keep it simple. Let's keep guns out of schools.

Ben Gadberry

Manchester

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