December 19, 2012

Letters to the Editor: Preventing another Newtown tragedy

I recently got an email from my daughter's elementary school advising parents on how to discuss the shootings in Connecticut. It suggested parents should stress to our kids that they are safe at all times.

Woman lights candles while visiting a memorial to the victims of the recent shooting in Sandy Hook Village in Newtown,
click image to enlarge

A woman lights candles Monday in Newtown, Conn., while visiting a memorial to the victims of the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

2012 File Photo/Reuters

As a parent, I can do this for my child to reassure her, but as an adult, I know this is a lie. Our children are not safe anymore. They are not safe in school. They are not safe at the movies. They are not safe at the mall. They are not safe at their places of worship. All of these locations and more have been the scenes of mass shootings in recent years.

The Connecticut shooting comes too close to home. All of my imaginary defensives have come down, things like "Well, that probably wouldn't happen in a small New England town" or "At least these things don't happen in elementary schools." They happen everywhere, all the time.

My heart is broken, but I am not defeated by this event. I am mad as hell and want to join with others who are also mad as hell and ready to end this senseless, grotesque violence.

For every action we take to protect kids in the event of a shooting, we need to take ten thousand actions to prevent one from ever happening again. We need to move beyond planning for attacks and dealing with them to preventing them.

We need to work at the local, state and national level. We need gun control and an end to the culture of violence that allows games like "Kindergarten Killer." We need to address it all and make it stop.

We must come to terms with the epidemic of violence that is literally and figuratively taking away our children's childhoods -- and end it.

Jennifer Reck

Cape Elizabeth 

On Dec. 14, there was another slaughter of innocent people, in a school in Connecticut, which was made easier by the current federal law that prohibits guns on school property.

That law didn't stop a lunatic criminal from bringing his guns into the school. It only made it easier for him by stopping the honest people from defending themselves and saving the lives of 20 helpless little children.

If even one teacher had a gun of his own, he could have saved the lives of a couple dozen or more people. But that would be against the law right now, and the teacher would be put in jail for saving lives.

When is Congress going to get serious about preventing these mass murders and stop listening to the anti-gun nuts? Taking guns away from teachers and other honest people is making it easy for the criminals. It is time for the anti-gun nuts to get over their phobias about guns and get serious about protecting America's children.

Ask a psychologist how mass murderers get their start, and he will tell you that they started out as abused children and grew up to be mass murderers. Congress needs to go after the root causes instead of just the same old knee-jerk reactions of "We need a new gun control law."

The schools are already gun-free zones, as was that movie theater where the massacre happened, and all it did was help to make it easier for the gunman. This is a complex problem that needs some serious efforts, not another knee-jerk law that makes us all less safe.

The way to reduce the number of mass murderers in this country is to start by reducing the child abuse wherein they get their start.

Thomas O'Connor

Falmouth

Panhandlers profit from generosity of naive donors 

Regarding the Maine Voices by Kathy Rivers ("Open your eyes to homeless, hungry to change how you view the world," Nov. 26):

Ironically, the reason I have so much time to read the Press Herald from front to back is because I have been unable to find a replacement job after my seasonal job closed. I have been actively searching and I'm not even being picky. I recently got turned down to be a cashier at the local grocer (I have lots of experience) because I wasn't a "good match."

I have a dear friend who has been unemployed for two years due to her employer going bankrupt. She and I are both older, and she believes the "bad match" is that we have too much experience and may demand more pay.

Whatever the reasons, I am frustrated being rejected by jobs I should be a "shoo-in" for (I have great references and an excellent work record).

I finally had to start collecting unemployment. I make $183 per week. I'm seriously considering panhandling in Portland.

I recommend that Kathy Rivers check out Channel 13's special report of Nov. 20. That undercover reporter averaged $15 an hour as a panhandler! No one bothered to ask anything about him. One of the people he interviewed admitted to having a job, but he panhandles on the side.

This same guy said a woman handed him a $100 bill. As a person collecting unemployment, I am required to account for my time and any additional income.

The reason panhandling is a scam is because people like Kathy do not question these people and they persist.

Her warm, fuzzy good feelings should come not from handing money out willy nilly after she imagines her beneficiaries' fictional sad lives, but by making donations to reputable organizations like the Good Shepherd Food-Bank.

Hand them a job, a meal, a place to stay. Imagine the alcoholic after he buys a drink with the money you "gifted." Any better off?

Lisa DeAngelis Lane

Waldoboro 

Persistence of racism shows protections are still needed  

In response to the article "Affirmative action: Filing suit over race-based protection" (Dec. 8):

According to Edward Blum, who is quoted in the article, "Affirmative action treats whites unfairly and stigmatizes minorities, and the rule that requires certain, mostly Southern, states to obtain special federal permission for electoral changes -- Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act -- unjustly punishes them for long-abandoned racist practices."

One has only to look at the last election, with the calls for voter ID cards, limited voting sites and booths in minority districts, and canceling or limiting early voting opportunities as just a few examples that indicate racist practices are anything but long abandoned.

It is also true that there are still many in the South who feel that black enrollment at their beloved institutions of higher learning should be limited to those recruited for their football and basketball teams.

Until the spirit for true equality resides in the hearts and minds of all men, affirmative action and voting rights acts remain a necessity.

William "Skip" Button

Portland

 

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