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Byline: The Register-Guard

More guns mean less civilization

The arguments on gun control tend to fall into two camps: more guns equal more security, or more guns equal potential chaos. I suggest thinking it through to its logical conclusion. To me it seems a matter of civilization - whether we want to evolve as a species or regress to a more savage era.

More guns seems counter- evolutionary, a return to base-survival mentality. Because there is no true sign of either a threatening apocalypse or a police state, that approach seems driven by paranoia or an abnormal preoccupation with control and dominance.

I admire a well-designed, well-crafted weapon as much anyone. There's nothing quite like the original Colt pistol or the Winchester repeating rifle. Before the modern era, rifles and pistols, like 1940s and '50s automobiles, displayed an aesthetic that managed to merge the beauty of the gun with its power - an interesting balance between civility and violence.

This year's Lane County gun show was dominated by black, military-looking weapons. No balance, no mercy. Unlike their predecessors, those guns are cold-blooded, efficient killing machines. Not a single black-powder gun was on display.

I saw a grown man decked out in combat camouflage fatigues and combat boots adopt a wide, commanding stance, projecting an air of domination, as if acting out some adolescent fantasy.

I also came across a vendor selling handmade violins and cellos; a booking screw-up, perhaps. Amidst the cold machinery of assault weapons, it was like a persistent green plant breaking through the pavement: a vote for civilization.



Helicopters, tankers are effective

I read with interest the Jan. 20 article headlined, "Legislation aims to share cost for Oregon wildfires."

Of particular interest were the comments by Andy Stahl, director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, who was quoted as saying "any money spent on air tankers and helicopters is a waste, because there is no data to show that they are effective tools for keeping fires from getting out of control."

Stahl is misinformed. I retired after 34 years of service in 2010 from my position as Southern Oregon area director for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

During my time with the department, I fought hundreds of wildfires throughout Oregon, as well as in Washington and California, in many capacities, from building fire lines on initial attack to serving eight years as incident commander of one of the state's incident management teams assigned to some of Oregon's largest and most destructive wildfires.

While I have no "data," I do have a lot of personal experience. I've seen many thousands of acres of forest land, hundreds of homes and millions of dollars saved through the effective use of air tankers and helicopters in wildfire suppression. How the cost of availability and use of those resources is allocated is a decision for our elected officials in Salem. Not funding their availability and use would prove costly to all Oregonians.



End the budget's military excesses

I perused Bill Northrup's Jan. 9 letter - a discussion about our national budget - and lo and behold, as usual there was no mention of our outsized military budget. When will our media, or our elected politicos, bring that important issue fully into the discussion?

Every year - at least since 1981, the beginning of the Reagan "trickle down" economic era - there has been a discussion about the need to cut the human services budget, followed by regular cuts. Meanwhile, military spending increases year by year. It's a sacred cow.

It's those gigantic expenses, combined with reducing taxes for the rich, that have caused the vast increase in the national debt. The military budget adds up each year to about one-half the discretionary, taxpayer-supported budget - and that doesn't include the budget for intelligence programs.

The safety net that protects human needs - education, health, the vulnerable, the national infrastructure - no longer should be the neglected child in our budget. They are needed public services.

Congress and the president must dramatically cut military expenses. End the wars. End our military expansion in Latin America, Africa and Asia. End the renovation of our vast nuclear weapons arsenal. Stop the expansion of drone warfare.

And increase taxes for the rich so they can pay their full share. Reinstate some sanity. Give it to humanity. Please.



Obama's gun proposals won't work

I'm sure it's merely a coincidence that President Obama announced his gun control agenda on the anniversary of Prohibition. Much as Prohibition was tried and failed, nearly all of Obama's proposed actions have been tried and failed.

Not only would nothing he proposed have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, but a similar magazine and "assault weapon" ban was in effect when the shootings at Columbine High School occurred.

I guess Obama gets to say he "did something."



Armstrong's path to forgiveness

As Lance Armstrong stumbles along the road to redemption, some folks simply refuse to cut him any slack at all.

Come on, guys, quit being so mean. Armstrong, who has amassed a fortune estimated at more than $100 million, simply wants to get back into the game that produced that wealth.

Personally, I'm willing to accept his tear-jerker performance on "Oprah" and forgive him - if he does a few little things:

Repay all the settlement money he received from the individuals and publications who accused him of doping. That would likely take $10 million or more.

Repay the U.S. Postal Service all the sponsorship money he and his cycling team were provided over the years. As a taxpayer, I resent my money being used to support a man who systematically cheated to win over a decade of competition. Likely, tens of millions of dollars would be required.

Pay several million dollars each to those persons whose reputations he ruined as he lied and attacked them to defend his dishonorable actions; maybe tens of million or more would be needed here.

Donate whatever is left to LiveStrong, the organization he helped found and which served as cover for him for years.

Publicly promise to never be a participant in any athletic competition for the rest of his life - and honor that promise.

It's time for Armstrong to exchange that yellow jersey for a hair shirt. When he does, I'll actually believe he's truly sorry and forgive him.


Junction City

Chip Kelly's 'castle' is not news

Wow. It must have been a slow news day at The Register-Guard on Jan. 18 for the editors to decide to publish a tabloid- worthy piece such as "Kelly's vacant castle," a non-story about University of Oregon football Coach Chip Kelly's house.

Where was the "news" in that story?

Using inflammatory words such as "castle," writing that Kelly was "not satisfied with a standard lot in the high-end subdivision" and, indeed, the whole tone of the story smacked of a hit piece designed as payback for Kelly leaving Eugene for Philadelphia.

If Kelly's house wasn't news while he was living in it, it certainly isn't news now that he isn't. And publishing the location of the house with a photo could lead to the property being vandalized by disgruntled fans, for which the newspaper would be responsible.

I wouldn't expect such an article in a high school newspaper, much less in the daily newspaper of record in Eugene.

Shame on the reporter and editors who approved such dreck.


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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jan 24, 2013
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