Let's use our power to end gun violence
On Dec. 14, a few hours after learning about the senseless shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., I was prompted to take a long walk in my small town of Piedmont. The walk provided much-needed silence and space to reflect on the horrific tragedy that has touched so many.
On my way home, I walked past our town's relatively new and lovely elementary school, Frank C. Havens, and through an open window in the school's auditorium I could hear the clear and truly enchanting voices of children practicing a song for an upcoming Winter Concert. I paused and listened, as the singing voices made me smile and feel hope.
Immense hope, in fact, that even in the face of random acts of unthinkable violence perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our communities, our children, that to be human is to love deeply and passionately -- and we have the power to bind together and collectively upend the interests of the few who gain so much in making weapons that eviscerate the innocent: www.bradycampaign.org.
Wrong interpretations of Second Amendment
Adopted on Dec. 15, 1791, the Second Amendment to the Constitution under the Bill of Rights reads as follows, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Such legislation empowered the citizens of a fledgling democracy the right to protect and defend themselves.
In 1791, firearms of the day were crude and rudimentary, often handmade by local gunsmiths. They were single-shot rifles loaded through the muzzle and fired by means of a flintlock. Mostly effective for short-range game hunting, these weapons were extremely inaccurate at long distances. As a Vietnam veteran, I firmly believe in the original intent of the Second Amendment.
But today's interpretation of the Second Amendment by ultraconservative organizations, politicians and lobbyists is fatally flawed. We do not have the right to keep and bear arms, automatic, semi-automatic or the like, whose only design are for military, law enforcement and tactical purposes.
The massacre of innocent men, women and, especially, children across our country must end. Our forefathers would never subscribe to today's interpretation of the Second Amendment by unconscionable conservative ideology. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, these ideals must not and will not stand.
More proof streets of Oakland not safe
It would be laughable, if it were not so pathetic. A news camera van is broken into and equipment stolen in Oakland while there was a heavy police presence on display inside a school auditorium, at a community meeting featuring Mayor Jean Quan. The subject? How Oakland is dealing with crime.
With empty police cars parked all around the school, as I walked in, I thought what a great time to be burglarizing the neighborhood.
I also noticed what looked to be an unsupervised news van, door wide open -- I couldn't imagine there was not someone inside, and maybe there was, but I did not investigate.
I left the meeting early, because I was alone and uneasy about being on the empty streets at night. In fact, I almost said that in passing to an officer at the door as I exited.
Do we need to ask why the rest of the Bay Area finds Oakland a joke? I moved here in 1972, and love it with all my heart. But where is common sense in our leaders?
How to fund schools without a tax increase
We constantly hear our schools need more money.
Here are some simple solutions that require no new taxes.
End school sports. Spend that money on teaching our children reading, writing, math, science and critical thinking.
All students should either walk or ride bikes to school.
No animal or dairy products in the cafeteria; no sugar/corn syrup/refined flour junk in school vending machines; and no fast food outlets within 1,000 feet of a school zone.
Still want more funding? Impose a guzzler/luxury/nuisance tax on breeders having more than two children and give tax breaks for those adopting. A horribly overpopulated nation and dying world will thank us.