Nov. 20 Letters to the Editor

Posted Nov. 19, 2009, at 4:45 p.m.

Is veto constitutional?

Having missed my share of school days, I realize there are gaps in my education here and there. That being the case, can someone explain to me where I went wrong in believing the United States of America to be a representative democracy?

It was my impression that the Founders established this system in order to create a government of laws, enacted by the people’s elected representatives. One primary reason for this structure was to avoid mob rule, and protect the rights of minorities under the Constitution. Without this well-reasoned governmental structure, a “people’s vote” would have prohibited, for example, everything from the abolition of slavery and the right of women to vote to the Catholic Mass in fundamentalist Protestant regions of the South.

How is it, then, that this “people’s veto” which reversed the legal elected government’s systematic making of law in the case of marriage equality is even constitutional?

Bill Ronalds

Rockland

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Word play in gun play

As a federal firearms license holder, I have watched the assault weapon debate since it started some 20 years ago.

In the mid-1980s some media type had trouble with definitions of semi-automatic and select-fire fully automatic weapons. The term “auto” in semi-automatic was in reference to auto load, not auto-fire as in military weapons. To make the issue less confusing, both weapons were classified as assault weapons.

The ban on the assault weapons followed in the 1990s, despite the fact that civilian ownership of fully automatic weapons had been illegal since the 1920s. The American public were told that these weapons were the weapon of choice for gangs and criminals.

The assault weapon ban was based on the ominous appearance of the military looking M-16, AK-47 and the Uzi. It was easy to convince the public that these semi-auto guns being sold in the U.S. were the same as the AK-47 being held up by all the terrorists throughout the world. They do look alike. The fully automatic function of the military weapon is not incorporated into the semi-automatic.

The ban became a joke to knowledgeable people in the gun industry. If you know anything about guns, the assault weapon ban is cosmetic only. If you don’t know anything about guns, you are convinced it is keeping fully automatic guns out of the hands of gangs and criminals.

The term “assault weapon,” although initially a convenient twist of the factual truth, has become permanently imbedded in the American public as a fully automatic weapon used for war only.

Larry Ferrell

Newport

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War a necessary evil

There are times when I read letters to the editor that cause me to get stirred up. But the most recent one, titled “War is the villain,” for the first time compelled me to actually write a rebuttal.

Speaking as a former U.S. Marine and combat veteran, I can say that PTSD is not contagious and you can’t “catch” PTSD from treating returning war vets. It’s not as if this is a cold virus. Simply talking to a combat vet doesn’t give you PTSD no matter how much you might sympathize with that vet.

Maj. Hasan showed signs of instability long before his shooting spree at Fort Hood. News media have reported his own religious leaders as saying this. There have been some suspected links with the mosque where the 9-11 hijackers gathered. So the theory that Maj. Hasan might’ve been acting out because of so-called secondhand PTSD is a story that can be sliced up and put in a frying pan. This is a lot of baloney.

I can say from firsthand experience that yes, war is terrible. What a shame we don’t all live in a utopian society where everyone respects the rule of law and we don’t have to be in fear for our lives and safety. But as long as we have people willing to kill us because we don’t happen to believe the way they do, or because we are different, then I think wars will be a necessary evil. Just as you don’t pet a dog with rabies, you don’t try to reason with terrorists.

Jim Green

Columbia

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Armed and safe

Some time ago, I was threatened with arson. The situation has since been resolved by law enforcement.

But the night of the threat, I made sure my .351, .308 and 9 mm were fully loaded and chambered. I patrolled my property with the intent to make sure any arsonist would not leave my property alive.

Gun ownership is essential to personal safety, as my situation shows.

Lou Gould

Argyle Township

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Get away with murder?

I’m writing in regard to the woman, Amber Cummings of Belfast, who has pleaded guilty to killing her husband while he slept by shooting him twice in the head with a 45-caliber handgun. She has struck a deal to not serve more then one year in prison.

This blows me away due to the fact that I just got done serving four years in prison for driving without a license. It was my sixth offense, but regardless, what’s worse, murder or driving offenses?

If you ask me, the court system is putting the wrong people in prison. And people wonder why the prison system is so overcrowded.

Jeffrey Frost

Pittsfield

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Moral compass needed

I read the Nov. 16 “Ask a Lawyer” feature with sadness. In this column, attorney Jonathan Handelman recommended that a parent not have her 15-year-old son talk with the police about a bicycle theft. This may be good legal advice, but it is lousy parenting advice.

Where is the ethics lesson about telling the truth? What are we teaching about character? How do we contribute to our local communities if our police officers are treated as the enemy?

As a school superintendent, I deal with too many students who are struggling without any moral compass for their behavior. I work with and admire the efforts of the juvenile probation officers who are trying to help young people become future responsible citizens. If my child had any knowledge about a bicycle theft, we would be in the police station within the hour. If she were implicated, I would welcome that lesson now, before habits are too ingrained to change.

I so hope that the parent that wrote to “Ask a Lawyer” thinks less about protecting her son’s legal rights and more about helping her son grow into man of whom she will be proud. That is the least we can do for our children.

Bill Webster

Ellsworth

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