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Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013: Changes after Newtown, snowmobile safety and UMaine hockey coach


Complicated choices

Newtown — a sick young man, barely out of childhood took a weapon in his hands, pulled the trigger and killed. Security, mental health care and gun care all failed.

If all future efforts were laser focused — the stark truth cannot be undone. It is impossible to legislate death away. Security cannot stop all wrong action. Caring for the mentally ill will not stop singular acts of violent insanity. Gun regulations will not halt aggression or tragedy.

Charles Perrault penned the story “Sleeping Beauty.” Upon the celebratory birth of a princess, an offended guest pronounced the curse, “Upon her 16th birthday she will prick her finger on a spindle and die.”

In knee-jerk reaction, the king banned all spindles and spinning wheels. The result? Threadbare clothes, with a national spirit and economy languid. Did it stop the fateful day of the princess and the spindle? No.

Choices on the journey toward death will bear some expected and hoped-for results. Some, like the Sandy Hook shootings, are shocking evidence of a complicated interplay of past personal and societal choices.

Ban certain guns? Government gun stores and potent black market? School curricula with “in God we trust” language, and teach the divine rule, “thou shalt not kill?” Arm school staff? Close schools? Build in-home “safe” rooms? New mental health institutions?

The possibilities demand our best and well-reasoned efforts and diligent attention. Far-reaching consequences are inevitable.

Karen McCumber


Protect your pets

I learned to protect my pets the hard way on New Year’s Eve, when my cat Lucky was outside and found the next morning killed by a fox passing through my backyard looking for food. The fox was caught in action still with my cat in it’s mouth.

Needless to say, I was horrified. I can’t even begin to express the pain I felt. There was a lot of blood in the snow, which made it even more horrific. I just pray my pet died quickly.

His remains have now been cremated, but keep your domestic pets inside. This is one lesson I’ll never forget.

Lori Hemphill


Thin or thick?

Wouldn’t it be nice if snowmobiles or snowmobile suits came with flotation devices? If people who live here can’t tell the differences between thin or thick ice, then maybe the snowmobile manufacturers can help.

John L. Clark


The clamor for control

The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of privately owned guns, and we kill, by far, the most people with these guns.

What is wrong with V. Paul Reynolds, supporting all kinds of guns and magazines? Armed guards in schools? Are you kidding me?

Apparently, Fox News is too liberal for him. The National Rifle Association needs a whole new set of ground rules, but, instead, they continue to dumb down.

David Warren


Sandy Hook Shooting

I was deeply saddened to hear about the horrific and tragic shooting of 20 young, innocent children. It was an unforgivable crime, and we should not forget the six teachers who also died protecting their kids. They were true heroes to risk their own lives. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims — no parent should have to bury a child.

There has to be real changes made in this country to ensure that this will never happen again. Schools and churches should be a safe place for our kids, but, right now, no place is safe.

We need much stricter gun laws, and we need to take a much closer look at mental health.

I hope that President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden can get some much needed changes done.

John C. Wilson


Give coach a chance

Before we call for University of Maine Hockey Coach Tim Whitehead’s head, let’s all take a deep breath. With a 4-11-2 start, panic is normal. But remember: Injuries have forced the freshman class to become elite players right away — in their first semester.

Six of Maine’s 11 losses were by one goal. And, a year ago, Maine was in the NCAA tournament.

As for Whitehead, his win percentage the last 11 years is 54.7 percent compared with UNH’s Dick Umile at 57.5 percent; BU’s Jack Parker with 55.8 percent; and BC’s Jerry York with 63.9 percent.

Except for York, these differences are not statistically significant. Some argue we don’t get the elite players we once did.

Well, we got two this year. One is a shoo-in next June when he’s 18. Coaches are important in recruiting, but so, too, is institutional academic reputation.

UMaine’s academic reputation ranks beneath BC, BU and UNH, and perhaps that deserves some editorializing as well.

Finally, Whitehead’s critics need reminding. He and his staff don’t just go after hockey talent, they go after solid student athletes who can also perform in the classroom.

This year’s freshman class is an excellent example. Whitehead and his staff are exactly the coaches we want at Maine — coaches who have class and who are winners with academic standards.

David W. Townsend


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