Time to protect the innocent
There must be something we can do to protect our children from madmen without offending those who cherish firearms. Shouldn't we grant parents a right to ask that gun ownership be accompanied by a showing of mental stability? Would a brief visit with a professional be so intrusive and so unbearable that little children be put at risk? Bless the Second Amendment, and have a gun if you must, but for the sake of the innocent I am asking all responsible gun owners to embrace a change to protect our little ones from these insane acts.
Dwight Smith, Santa Cruz
The flawed logic of gun supporters
Just minutes after the tragic shooting of school children in Connecticut, gun-rights advocates voiced their predictable argument that gun laws won't stop people from obtaining guns illegally. Taking this logic further, perhaps we should throw out all laws. People continue to commit murder and other crimes despite laws against them. Laws set standards and values. Laws are a statement of what is and isn't acceptable to the general public. It wasn't long ago rape wasn't considered a serious problem until laws were passed to set a standard that rape, in any circumstance, is unacceptable. Of course legislators knew rape would not end when they passed stronger laws.
Richelle Noroyan, Santa Cruz
Ban assault rifles
Now is the time to rally against the NRA's hold on our legislative process. Write the president, write your federal representatives. Demand they take action and restore the assault rifle ban that expired in 2004. Start petitions online and on paper. Assault rifles have no sane place in our country.
David Leland, Soquel
As president of the Santa Cruz County chapter of the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence, I offer two reasonable steps we can take as a nation to address the fact that eight teens and children die every day from gun violence in the U.S. -- that's one Newtown massacre very 2.5 days:
1. Think twice before you introduce a gun into your household. Statistically it is 22 percent more likely to be used in a criminal assault, a gun accident, or a suicide, than in an act of self-defense.
2. California requires background checks for all gun sales. This should be a federal law. Presently, guns sold by private persons either at gun shows or over the Internet do not require background checks. Billions of dollars worth of guns per year are sold online without background checks. Many end up in the hands of dangerous people.
Harry Salzberg, Santa Cruz
Address mental health angle
As we all grieve for the victims of the Connecticut school shootings, please keep in mind that it isn't just about too many guns in the wrong hands, but about the deplorable lack of mental health services available to vulnerable youth. Thanks to our unfair tax system, they get kicked out of mental hospitals so the rich can get richer, then people wonder why these tragedies occur! We need to offer counseling to all children in all our schools so that violent tendencies can be detected before the tragedy occurs, not just after the tragedy!
Heather Wilber, Santa Cruz
Put locks on classroom doors
One way to make classrooms safer from insane predators: Require classroom doors to have windows so the teacher can see who is trying to gain admission. Have the doors lock from the inside, controlled by an electronic buzzer to allow entrance. Doors can open from the inside in case of fire. Doors cannot be opened from the outside without a key or electronic OK. This would cost a great deal of well-spent money. Another small step: Ban automatic and semiautomatic weapons. I keep forgetting why we need these.
Grace Gerbrandt, Santa Cruz
The dangers of scapegoating
As we are rocked by tragedy, our emotions run high and our rational judgement is clouded. We all want an easy way out of facing responsibility. It sure is convenient to blame movies, video games and rock 'n' roll, things that empirical research has not shown to be causative factors for violent behavior, instead of addressing the source of our problems: lack of care, treatment, and support for the mentally ill as well as high stress, antagonistic social environments. How we solve our problems is a decision between what is easy and what is right.
Darrin Scott, Santa Cruz
Violence as a cultural issue
Thank you Wallace Baine for giving public voice to violence as a cultural issue. Something is very wrong with our culture today, and we ignore it at our peril. It is not just a few sickos going astray. Culture is the collective consciousness of its people -- what we do, don't do and what we expect and tolerate in others. Our culture is loaded with acts of violence in TV, movies, road rage, "reality" programing, Internet and personal abuses of others are obvious examples. We tolerate that. Political correctness has silenced needed behavioral feedback. We can't ignore that all of this ends up teaching our kids, and us, how to behave badly. We need to acknowledge this is as a growing sickness in our culture and that each of us, in varying ways, is contributing to this sickness. We can change it by modifying our own behaviors and actions.
Ron Dornseif, Scotts Valley
Whistle must go
Like most everyone else, I was enthusiastic about the Regional Transportation Commission's recent purchase of the rail line -- that is, until the constant train whistles began. And mind you, I live nowhere near the railroad tracks. Please, isn't there something the commission can do to mitigate the train whistle? Why does it sound for minutes at a time? Why is it so loud? I hear it loud and clear through closed double-paned windows a mile away from the tracks. What is going to happen in the summer when the windows are open? And I can only imagine how loud it is for people close to the tracks. Unless something can be done about the constant whistle, I'm afraid the rail line purchase was a mistake that needs to be corrected.
Ken Wright, Santa Cruz
Stop the train noise
To our City Council and other elected officials responsible for allowing the Holiday Train and its annoying whistle to drown our Westside neighborhoods with incessant noise: "I don't like the train and I vote." If you feel the same as I do, join me in letting our city officials know your opinion.
Andrew Murray, Santa Cruz
Thank you, Coonerty
Thanks, Mr. Coonerty, for your op-ed piece "Believe in Santa Cruz." I am a recent arrival, deciding to relocate my small business -- and my life -- to this community. As I was driving the rental truck here, all my possessions and my little car trailing, I had a funny thought. I felt like I was getting married again, to a little-known man who I had a good feeling about nevertheless. Thank you for listing all the ways that Santa Cruz is a worthy partner.
Beth Young, Santa Cruz
I was strolling down Pacific Avenue with my family on a lovely Sunday eveing in December enjoying the holiday cheer and uniqueness this street brings this time of year. I walked by a new store called "It's Sugar," and was outraged and disappointed to see such a store open up in a prime location.
If you haven't noticed, this county struggles with a childhood obesity epidemic. I am a pediatric nurse/dietitian and work in a very busy pediatric clinic here in town. The number of obese patients we see in this practice is astounding. When you are screening for diabetes and high cholesterol at such an early age, it's certainly not going to help having this store in town that will be enticing for not only children, but their parents too.
Why didn't you pick another store Santa Cruz? There are plenty of others to choose from that don't contribute to our obesity problem.
Kathy Hannigan, Aptos