Readers comments 5.17.13
[Editor’s note: As much as I love your letters (it truly is one of the highlights of my job), I must at last lay down the law. Let’s have a test. For the next 4 editions, I will not publish any letter that exceeds the 250-word limit. Should a letter beyond the 250-word count be submitted, I will edit the letter myself. Consider it an exercise in brevity. And keep them coming. Thanks. —KD]
The Senate Judiciary Committee is taking the first steps to move legislation on immigration reform to the Senate floor. The committee is considering hundreds of amendments to S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013.
There has been vigorous debate from both sides of the aisle on workers’ rights, border security and establishing a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans.
The debate on this legislation will continue in the coming weeks and months, but now is the time for you to add your voice. The League of Women Voters urges you to tell your Senators that you support comprehensive immigration reform.
The League of Women Voters believes that comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen our nation and society. Comprehensive immigration reform must: Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons; Promote reunification of families; Meet economic business and employment needs of the US; Improve safeguards against illegal immigration; Provide due process for all persons including the right to a fair hearing.
Thank your Senators for addressing the crucial issue of immigration reform. Urge them to allow immigrants to contribute to the US economy and society by providing them with a clear pathway to citizenship.
VP for Advocacy, LWV of the Claremont Area
One particular comment caught my attention in Mr. William Stevenson’s letter [Hiding behind the Constitution, COURIER, May 3], namely, “Shame on you, Mr. Lyon for hiding behind the Constitution and standing with those that advocate for more violence.”
First of all, Mr. Stevenson, it’s not “hiding behind” the Constitution, rather it’s called honoring, respecting, and complying with the Constitution, Amendments and all. As for your sign off line, “standing with those that advocate for more violence,” beyond being irrational, hysterical sounding, and inaccurate, it indicates a type of person who would rather shout, than discuss.
Now, on to some discussion. But, prior to addressing the current gun debate, just a little review.
An elementary perusal, Mr. Stevenson, reveals that our Constitution has already been modified (amended) a number of times, 27 times to be exact. Article V of the Constitution describes the procedures which may be used to amend it.
What has developed in this country over the past century is a political Left wing—a Progressive movement dating to the late 1800s—which does not honor, respect, or comply with the Constitution, unless, of course, it supports their position, which, these days, mostly it doesn’t. This Left’s motto (recognizing no higher authority than themselves) could be stated fairly simply as, ‘our ends justify the means.’ Their ends, their utopian ends, however, remain to all of us forever shrouded in the mists, inchoate and ever shifting in the quicksands of the their imaginations, always impermanent.
The Left’s modus operandi, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt [our 32nd President, 1933-1945], has been to evade the Constitution without compunction and impose their agenda via legislation (constitutional, or not). When legislation has not been possible, the Left seeks alternate means of imposing its agenda such as judicial decree, executive fiat, or bureaucratic regulation.
Striking by their absence, have been any proposed Constitutional amendments since 1933 to legitimate the Left’s expansion of federal governmental power and restrictions upon the individual. The current gun debate is no different. It follows the Left’s established pattern of incremental infringement of our rights through Congressional legislation, absent a Constitutional amendment authorizing such infringement.
It can be said that those of us who oppose the Left’s agenda have no agenda of our own. No agenda of our own other than respect for the Constitutional authorities and limitations imposed upon the government, respect for our individual rights and for our private property rights, the right to make our own decisions, and a general desire, to the greatest extent possible, and to live our lives unmolested by government.
The challenge for those of us who support a constitutional republic of limited government is how to counter the hypnotizing allure of utopian dreams with an even more appealing reality which respects individual freedom, individual rights, and individual self-determination.
The Second Amendment
As long as the matter of “gun control” is debated in our legislatures and throughout our cities and states, the Second Amendment will continue to be the center point. However, many dimensions of the practical application of firearms use should be considered before drawing conclusions on public policy.
As a retired law enforcement officer with over 21 years’ experience, including a number of years as an academy instructor, I wish to add one other perspective to this debate. One aspect of the possession and use of firearms alarms me a great deal. And for the sake of brevity, let me just refer to the use of handguns.
For those who believe that arming more of our “law abiding” citizens to provide security in the workplace or school or our public spaces, please think about this. Training a person to shoot a gun is not too difficult. The police training academies do a really good job of training their recruits to shoot a handgun in a relatively short period of time.
Most peace officer recruits will become proficient at target shooting and at hitting targets in simulated deadly force situations. Most citizens who have a desire to learn how to shoot a handgun can be trained (or can train themselves) to do so in a fairly short period of time, as well. The mechanics of shooting a handgun are pretty simple and straightforward. Hitting a paper target in daylight from 5 to 25 yards away is not that difficult—especially since the target is not moving. A person can even be trained to reload the gun and quickly shoot at the target again.
The danger of using a handgun in a deadly force scenario is not so much “how to shoot the gun” but “when to shoot.”
Peace officer recruits are trained for many hours more in when and how to use deadly force than they are in simply firing the handgun. Since peace officers are professionals, they have a duty and a right to be trained well. Many hours of in-service training help the officer to refine his/her skills in the use of deadly force as well as stay current with the most effective methods that law enforcement organizations have to offer.
For reasons of legal liability, professionalism and personal safety, peace officers take this training very seriously. Being confronted with a life or death situation requiring a split second decision to shoot someone or not is a very unnatural one to face.
Unlike military personnel in combat, peace officers are not often faced with the prospect of having to shoot someone every day. Quite the opposite, it is a rare occasion faced by most peace officers. But they are trained to protect their own safety and the safety of others when faced with a deadly force scenario. Sometimes that means taking a life. Most of the time they get it right. Sometimes, despite all of the training, officers make an incorrect decision to take a life, and are held liable. Some officers, despite all of the training, will die as a result of an incorrect decision.
The expectation that the “average” citizen, not a peace officer or military trained person, can and will be diligent enough to initiate and maintain a course of proficiency in the use of a handgun is not realistic. Learning and maintaining proficiency in such a skill, one that may never be called upon to exercise, is not easy to justify.
Hiring and training enough security personnel in the use of firearms to “protect” our schools, government buildings and other public spaces is simply unrealistic. Arming a lot more law abiding citizens and giving them the authority to shoot and kill promotes a greater risk of unprofessional, untrained or accidental use of firearms. With that comes the prospect of more killing or wounding of bystanders.
Unfortunately, there is no way to measure the outcome of the course of action proposed by either side of the gun control debate. Only time will tell if Americans can provide solutions that will decrease the killings (over 9000 per year according to FBI statistics) by use of firearms and give the average citizen a feeling of safety and security in their homes, schools and public places.
There certainly is a lot more to consider in this dialog than the “right to bear arms.”
San Gabriel Mountains
We members of the Claremont Wildlands Conservancy have three goals: to preserve open space in Claremont’s hillsides for future generations, to ensure access to it, and to help create a continuous wilderness corridor along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
This wilderness corridor—along with the sections of the San Gabriel and Rio Hondo rivers stretching into the western Puente Hills—is designated to become the San Gabriel Mountains National Recreation Area. The secretary of the Interior Department made the official recommendation last month after a decade-long study by the National Park Service. We strongly support this proposal.
It would add federal resources to the severely underfunded National Forest Service, which manages (and would continue to manage) the Angeles National Forest. It would produce efficient collaboration between the National Park Service and National Forest Service to achieve the goals for recreation, education and conservation that we all desire. And it would bring technical and financial assistance to local governments and agencies responsible for the foothills, while maintaining local control.
If Congress adopts the recommendation, we will see coordination of resources throughout the area instead of limited and disconnected local initiatives. We may see more rangers and educational programs; more restrooms and picnic areas; clearer signs and maps; stronger control of crime, litter and vandalism; public transportation to popular destinations; better protection of sensitive and endangered species; and more extensive linkages of wildlife habitats and hiking trails throughout the region.
The next step is for our legislators— Rep. Judy Chu, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Barbara Boxer—to introduce bills in the House and Senate. Local agencies and individuals must stay involved in the process. Several key issues need to be worked out.
The current recommendation proposes that the San Gabriel National Recreation Area be a branch of the existing Santa Monica National Recreation Area; however it may be more efficient to create a separate entity.
The current recommendation supports local control, but in the legislative process, that control may be eroded. It is also critical that recreational use be balanced with protection of watershed, habitat and wildlife, particularly for sensitive and endangered species.
Over 70 percent of Los Angeles County’s open space is in the San Gabriels, 33 percent of its water comes from them, and 3.5 million of us visit the area each year. This issue is too important to be stuffed in a government official’s drawer.
The best places to look for more information are the web site for San Gabriel Mountains Forever, a coalition of environmental groups supporting the National Recreation Area designation, and the National Park Service’s page on San Gabriel Watershed and Mountains—Special Resource Study. We urge readers to become informed and to write their local newspapers and legislators to keep up the momentum.
Lissa Petersen, President
Claremont Wildlands Conservancy