Archive for letters to the editor

OK to put Uzi in child's hands, but not OK to comfort kids with hugs


guns 9 year old with UziImage via YouTube courtesy of The Independent

What possible reason could any parent have to encourage their child to use an Uzi? Despite how "mature" the 9-year-old who accidentally fatally shot her range instructor seemed to everyone involved, IMHO there is no justification for allowing her to shoot a sub-machine gun. I can hardly write about this, I am that outraged, angry, and stunned.

Instead, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

What an outrageous display of irresponsibility at this Arizona gun range. ( “Uzi accident is fatal,” Aug. 27)

I am not only talking about the girl’s parents or the gun instructor.

More to the point, it is the senselessness of voters in this country who insist that legally possessing a gun designed solely to rapidly kill multiple people represents 2nd Amendment freedom.

Ron Landesman, Los Angeles


Smoke was coming out of my ears while I read this article. In what universe does a sane, reasonably intelligent person show a 9-year old how to fire an Uzi?

Lord knows I’m no firearms expert, but even I know the recoil could be substantial if the shooter weighs about 60 pounds, the average weight of a 9-year old girl.

Benjamin Franklin famously answered a question about the new nation, calling it “a republic — if you can keep it.”

Has our country’s passion for guns overtaken our capacity to reason? And does that passion threaten our liberty? I think the Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they saw how the extraordinary republic they created interprets the “right to bear arms” amendment today.

Danielle Karson, Pasadena


Kids cope by internalizing responsibility for terrible things that happen — even if it’s not their fault — in situations far less dramatic than this.

So I have one question: How will these children (and God only knows how many more) — who, at their ages, are cognizant enough to understand what happened — cope with the tremendous guilt for the rest of their lives?

David Fritz, Reseda


The tragic death of the gun instructor is puzzling on so many levels. First, why was he teaching a 9-year-old to fire an Uzi? And why were this child’s parents bringing her to a range to learn to shoot an Uzi?

We all know Arizona , like many other states, has issues with crime, illegal immigration and drug smuggling, but has it really come to arming children with Uzis? I sure hope not.

Marty Foster, Ventura


My thoughts are with the 9-year-old girl, her family and the family of the deceased. Having said this, among the questions I have are:

When are we Americans going to learn to divorce ourselves from this love affair we seem to have with guns?

How much more tragedy must we endure at the hands of guns?

Hugo Pastore, Torrance


When is it ever necessary in the U.S. for anyone under the age of 10 to use an Uzi? What is wrong with us as citizens? We should be howling in outrage.

Please, can we finally legislate control of automatic weapons? There is no need for them in daily life.

This was an avoidable tragedy on so many levels.

Susan Van Buren, Newbury Park


The mind boggles. Most parents would not allow their 9-year-old to cross the street by themselves, not to mention handling dangerous machinery.

What earthly reason is there for putting a fatal assault weapon in the hands of a child?

Is this how far the reach of the NRA goes?

Nancy Lazerson, Encinitas


If I have the facts right from your news article and your Op-Ed piece, then we are allowed to put an Uzi into the hands of a 9-year-old girl, but we are prohibited from hugging her when she realizes that she has taken a human life. (“Too litigious for hugs,” Opinion, Aug. 27) 

Wayland Marie, Riverside


"We hear about murders, not suicides (until someone like Williams dies)."


comedy tragedy masks suicides depression

We and the news media have the attention spans of gnats. Something monumental shocks us into a Rubbernecking Moment... until the next monumental thing comes along. Murder headlines get a whole lot of play and keep us looking, darting from one to the next. Lamenting. Opining. Outraging. Suicides? Not so much. At least not for long. In a previous post-- The aftermath #RIPRobinWilliams-- I wrote the following:

The news media swarm and hyper-focus on huge, painful stories like these, and we all listen and discuss and cry and scream and care immensely.

And then we stop.

We don't stop caring, but we stop being pro-active, because the next Big Story comes along and that wave of emotion or controversy or fear or sadness or tragedy or outrage or terror or death or civil unrest or trauma or injustice comes along and diverts our attention... again.

This country is dysfunctional and needs extended rehab. This country needs to pay attention. We need sustained treatment as a nation, not spot checks. We need to continue to listen, care, and respond, to seek help, to be vigilant, to reach out, to get well. We need to lengthen our attention spans and accept the therapy that will help heal us.

We must listen to and heed the advice we're getting from experts. Hanging ourselves is not an option.

Today in the Los Angeles Times, there was similar reaction to my old improv buddy Robin's tragic death, along with some excellent commentary on treating people with mental illnesses. Please read these very astute letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Depression: It's so deep inside. No one can touch it.

Some days are unexplainable, when you have harmony with the Earth, racking your mind as to why — and knowing your crash awaits. It's lonely as hell.

I don't dismiss hope for a personal cure; I just want to share the unreal depth that embraces these sad souls who have survived countless years of secrets.

Thank you, Robin Williams, for possibly creating an awareness that yes, this can happen to someone as magnificent as you.

For now, much-needed attention is being paid to this issue. But if past tragedies are a guide, the discussion will probably fade over time until it is barely audible, only to be amplified by the next shock.

Cynthia Ingersoll, Sultan, Wash.


In 2009, there were about 36,500 suicides in the U.S. and "only" 16,500 homicides. Yet we hear about the murders but not so much about the suicides (until someone like Williams dies).

Likewise, we seldom see any headlines about depression, but depression affects nearly 15 million American adults, or about 6.7% of the population age 18 and older, in a given year. People who think depression is a choice are wrong (and often judgmental). Depression is no more a choice than baldness. However, I can get a hair transplant, but I can't get a brain transplant.

And then there's addiction. Let's just start by saying that the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs costs more than $600 billion annually due to crime, lost work productivity and healthcare. But again, we seldom hear about addiction unless someone is glamorized.

When will we be proactive and create some preventive measures? This is all treatable and preventable.

Ken Donaldson (Addictions and mental health counselor ), Seminole, Fla.


There is a precedent, of course, for Williams' suicide: Comedian and actor Freddie Prinze, who starred in the hit TV series "Chico and the Man," killed himself in 1977 at the age of 22.

Comedy, depression and substance abuse have an attraction to one another. My father was a comedy writer who used vodka and a barbiturate to get through his days. Thankfully, he didn't commit suicide.

Williams' death is surely a tragedy, but it did not come as a shock to me. I hope it shames our culture into taking depression seriously.

Wendy Werris, Los Angeles, CA


"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"


Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow

Our own Sherry Hardy covered Rachel Maddow's edible take-down of the Worst Congress Ever in her post, 'Get Out and Push', Says Maddow of the Useless, U.S. Congress. Maddow went ballistic, and rightfully so. Wowee, do GOP obstructionists suck, and yes, I'm using the official elitist left vernacular. Before going any further, I have to share a couple of the best parts from the segment Sher put up. And by "best" I mean most relatable, because Rachel's Moment of Gaa! was surely felt by many of us. Here are four very short clips (under a minute each) that represent some of her best outbursts. Here she is, blasting Congress to smithereens, and by Congress she meant Republican members thereof:

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"Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

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"This is truly historic failure."

ding ding ding

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All of this brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor in which readers responded to former Rep. David Dreier op-ed that was meant "to assure readers that it's not as bad as it seems in Congress. The nearly unanimous response from the nearly two dozen readers who sent us letters: Are you serious?"

Here you go, because our voices matter:

It's been tried many times before, the guilty claiming innocence by accusing the victim.

Dreier does just that. He blames the people for being divided, implying that the members of Congress themselves are not at fault. This is why only 13% of Americans approve of Congress, according to a January Gallup poll. Eighty seven percent of the people being of one mind in their disapproval doesn't sound like division.

Fewer laws have been passed by this Congress than by any other in the last 65 years, and Dreier says it's not really that bad. I think it is time for a reality check.

Frances Pin, Marina del Rey


Dreier deludes himself and, even more sadly, us.

We have a do-nothing Congress not because Americans are deeply divided. Important legislative efforts on immigration, the minimum wage and gun control did not die because of deep division, as a large majority of Americans favored these measures.

Is Dreier saying that shutting down the government and threatening its solvency came because of voter division? The failures came because the GOP was listening to the radical tea party members of Congress, who represent a very small minority of the population.

It is self-serving for Dreier to blame the division of the people — actually, insulting.

Jim Hoover, Huntington Beach


Dreier states that he is continually asked, "Is Congress completely controlled by big money and special interests?" and "Is it more partisan and dysfunctional than ever before?"

He never answers. Instead he tells us how there are always two opinions to every issue and groups of constituents on both sides.

I have to assume that he avoided answering because the answers are both "yes."

Ted Bacino, Palm Springs


Dreier blames the diversity of Americans for Congress' obstructionism.

Of course we are diverse, and we are better off for it. However, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated in 2010 that his main goal was for Barack Obama to be a one-term president, he revealed quite clearly what the Republican Party was all about: not diversity, but settling scores.

Robert S. Ellison, Arcadia


"I don't recall 'if you're comfortable with it' qualifying any of Jesus Christ's commandments."


what would jesus do

Regular readers know that I'm a big Michael Hiltzik fan, and for good reason. He's good at spreading the-- What's it called again? Oh yeah-- truth. One of his latest columns dealt with the truths regarding the Supreme Court's wrongheaded Hobby Lobby ruling in favor of allowing bosses to make health decisions for women. The consequences of that one were fairly easy to predict. Not only are businesses trying to use their "religious beliefs" against access to contraception, but now the decision is oozing into other areas of discrimination, as in gay and transgender targets. But hey, it's all cool, because it's in the name of Religion, with a capital R. In short: Blame Jesus.

Where's an impartial Supreme Court when you need one?

Which brings us to today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Plaudits to Michael Hiltzik for highlighting how the U.S. Supreme Court's outrageous Hobby Lobby decision may abet religious zealots' discrimination against gays and transgenders in the business world. ("Hobby Lobby's harvest: A religious exemption for LGBT discrimination?," July 16)

Hiltzik's telling parallels with mid-20th century racism ring true. For pious segregationists, the 1896 decision Plessy vs. Ferguson served to keep public schools segregated until Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954.

That epic reversal set the stage for civil rights legislation enacted during the next decade, which served to counter persistent racism.

Hiltzik's apt insights suggest that the 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision won't, like the Plessy ruling, endure for decades. All that's needed is one more high court justice who favors equal rights over faith-based discrimination.

Devra Mindell, Santa Monica


On Monday, President Obama issued an executive order barring LGBT discrimination by federal contractors. To protect their organizations from feeling "very uncomfortable" and to perpetuate "diversity of opinion," Pastor Rick Warren and other religious leaders, in a July 1 letter to Obama, argue their right to discriminate against the LGBT community while still receiving federal (taxpayer) funding

There is a disgraceful hypocrisy lurking in a request by Christian church leaders for religious exemption from an anti-discrimination rule. I don't recall "if you're comfortable with it" qualifying any of Jesus Christ's commandments.

Ellen Chavez Kelley, Santa Barbara


Hiltzik's excellent column was deficient in only one respect. He failed to ask Warren or Father Larry Snyder where in the fundamental documents of their faith they find their God commanding them to discriminate against LGBT people in terms of employment. Are they discriminating on religious grounds, moral grounds, or do they want to discriminate because they're simply bigoted?

Additionally, if their consciences won't allow them to treat LGBT people equally, they're always free to say "no" to the taxpayers' money.

John Gibson, Los Angeles