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Byline: The Register-Guard

Bring sensible gun laws back to U.S.

There has been much ado lately about the escalating national debt and the horrible legacy it leaves our children. By contrast, there is little concern over the escalating dispersion of guns in our society and what that will leave for our children. I ask, why so?

The answer lies in the unchallenged power the National Rifle Association has over our legislators that has led to an incredibly effective marketing strategy for saturating our society with guns.

The NRA has successfully lobbied to loosen restrictions on gun sales, giving easy access to guns for criminals. Then it runs its fear campaign: Because criminals have guns, law-abiding citizens must also have guns to protect themselves.

The NRA has lobbied effectively to delimit where we may carry guns. Again, because the criminal element can carry guns in most public places, the organization contends that law-abiding folks need to carry guns also to protect themselves in public places.

Given that we can carry guns wherever we please, the NRA has successfully lobbied to give more freedom to use these guns through "stand your ground" legislation that has been passed by several states.

Not so, you say? Then why was a beaming Marion Hammer, NRA lobbyist, standing at Gov. Jeb Bush's side as he signed the stand your ground bill in Florida?

Surely it's time to stand up and stop the senseless proliferation of guns. Our legislators are the key. Contact your representatives and embolden them to reactivate sensible gun laws before it's too late.



Jefferson 'wall' was misrepresented

Cartoonists have unparalleled license to communicate a false premise and expect that it will be published uncritically. In a March 29 editorial cartoon, Rick Santorum stands by a wall labeled "church-state separation" and says, "Mister Jefferson, tear down that wall!"

Santorum recently answered a reporter's church-state question in a way that invited misrepresentation when he should have succinctly said he agrees with Jefferson completely on the "wall of separation" phrase he coined in an 1802 private letter.

That would have left the reporter with the task of reading the letter and learning that the phrase meant "government, hands off religion" and nothing more. That was all it ever meant until 1947, when a U.S. Supreme Court ruling pretended it meant "religion, hands off the government" and created a marvel of modern legal folklore.

If Santorum had been willing to throw all caution to the winds he might even have said, "As president, being a Jeffersonian, I would treat that wall the same way Jefferson did." Of course, that would have flabbergasted anyone who knew how often and how blatantly Jefferson violated the 1947 version of his metaphor. I'm pretty certain that not a single candidate for president in 2012 would venture anywhere near Jefferson's religion-friendly policies and practices.

The bottom line is, most conservatives would love to have the 1947 wall revisited by "original intent" justices but are totally opposed to the persistent attacks on Jefferson's wall that in happier times protected religious conscience and free exercise against intrusion.



Romney hasn't got what it takes

The thing that bothers me about Mitt Romney is that as I watch him after he scurries onstage and begins to speak, he reminds me of a little

boy who beneath that small, knowing smile and those I-dare-you or I-gotcha eyes is about to have a hissy fit.

When I can tear myself away from his body language and listen to his spoken language, the insubstantial words he speaks to convince his listeners that he and he alone can save the country remind me of his Republican presidential predecessor, George W. Bush.

Romney's rhetoric at least has the coherence that Bush's lacked, but like Bush, he presents no evidence to support his apparent belief in his superior abilities.

Also like Bush, he makes me wonder if he is at all vaguely aware that he doesn't, in fact, have even a fraction of the abilities needed to lead our country back up and over the top of the same cliff the Bush administration led us posthaste over and down.

A presidential win by Romney, a Congress that continues down the same road it is on, and a U.S. Supreme Court whose majority conservative members' recent arguments about the health care law were so inane that I can only hope they were deceitful and ideological rather than a measure of their intellectual capabilities, will for sure combine to morph into that "perfect storm" that sinks our ship of state to the bottom of the sea.

Let us pray.



West Eugene wrong place for EmX

For the last five years a majority of the Eugene City Council and members of the Lane Transit District Board have demonized the so-called "opponents" of extending LTD's EmX system along West 11th, West Sixth and West Seventh avenues.

What we are, in fact, is a group of residents who are alarmed at the direction the EmX system would take the city. We are not against public transportation, we simply believe it should be in the right place. West Eugene is not that place, for several reasons.

One is that there is insufficient land in west Eugene to accommodate the assumed thousands of new residents projected to live there in the future. In addition, LTD has said it would use eminent domain if it wants to take properties or homes without the owners' approval.

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Stahl, Farr are men of integrity

I urge voters to elect Andy Stahl and Pat Farr to the Lane County Board of Commissioners in May.

True, they are men with very different political stripes, but they have two things in common our county needs: Both can have meaningful conversations with those who hold differing opinions and, more importantly, both are men of integrity.

It's a bit hypocritical to rage against those in Washington, D.C., for their lack of integrity when we don't hold our own local officials accountable. It's time to clean our political house.



It was Martin who stood his ground

Some say George Zimmerman will get off for killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Don't believe it.

Florida's "Justifiable Use of Force" statute states: "A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."

That was what Martin was doing. Zimmerman was following him, paused to call the police, then, despite the police admonition not to continue his pursuit, looked for him again. Words were exchanged.

Martin felt threatened and beat Zimmerman down. Zimmerman pulled his handgun and shot Martin dead. Zimmerman appears to have been stalking Martin, a first-degree misdemeanor under Florida law.

So Zimmerman had no right to use defensive force to aid his misdemeanor. He should've said "You're right, I'm sorry, you have a right to be here." Instead, he pulled his gun on a man who was defending his right to be in a public place and killed him.

Zimmerman was the initiator of contact, the antagonist, and without his misdemeanor action, none of it would have taken place. Nothing about the "Justifiable Use of Force" statute supports Zimmerman. It supports Martin's actions.


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Title Annotation:Editorials and Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 4, 2012
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