Traverse City Record-Eagle

January 18, 2013

Letters to the Editor: 01/18/2013


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I'm a World War II veteran, U.S. Army sergeant, having served in the African Middle East theater (North Africa). I have belonged to the National Rifle Association for decades along with eight former presidents and many other influential people. We are all called "gun nuts." I call anti-gun people "anti-gun nuts." On a recent Fox TV show a man stated that the NRA wants to have everyone own a machine gun. That is a bald-faced lie.

The assault rifle is a military rifle capable of selective or fully automatic fire. It is illegal to buy one or own one without a special permit, which is extremely difficult to obtain. The ones you see on TV or read about resemble the military version but they are semi-automatic rifles. Semi-automatic hunting rifles have been available for perhaps 100 years and are much more powerful than military rifles.

Log on to "a brief history of the NRA." There are 20 million gun owners in the U.S. and only 4.3 million members of the NRA. You people better wake up. There is a concerted effort of our administration and the U.N. to totally disarm the people. Gun control is deliberately misleading. It's people control they are after.

Thomas R. Urban

Traverse City

Arm those teachers

The disarmed teachers policy currently in place has caused grievous harm. Those responsible for this gross denial of a specific enumerated civil right should be identified and held accountable, and the disarmed teachers policy should end without delay.

Denial of human rights never advances the cause of freedom. It is almost as if we are fighting the civil rights battles of the 1960s again. A bill to reverse the egregious discrimination against the people responsible for our children's safe education should be drafted and introduced immediately before further harm ensues.

David Smiddy

Lake Leelanau

Time for peace

Regarding Jack Lessenberry's Dec. 9 column, the drug war has been waged in a racist manner since its inception. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914 was preceded by a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment. Opium was identified with Chinese laborers, marijuana with Mexicans and cocaine with African-Americans.

Racial profiling continues to be the norm, despite similar rates of drug use for minorities and whites. Support for the drug war would end overnight if whites were incarcerated for drugs at the same rate as minorities.

Prison cells are inappropriate as health interventions and ineffective as deterrents. It's time to declare peace in the failed drug war and begin treating all substance abuse, legal or otherwise, as the public health problem it is. Thanks to public education efforts, tobacco use has declined, without any need to criminalize smokers or imprison farmers.

Mandatory minimum prison sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing and racial profiling are not the most cost-effective means of discouraging unhealthy choices.

Robert Sharpe

Washington, D.C.

The writer is a policy analyst with Common Sense for Drug Policy