Readers’ comments: April 28, 2023

Wildflower photo (thankfully) not what it seems
Dear editor:
It must have been a quiet week in Claremont for the Courier to devote a page and half to flowers blooming a long way away. Peter Weinberger and editor Mick Rhodes should have known better than to shoot and print three large photos depicting careless ignorant people trampling those flowers. Perhaps publishing a single photo with the caption calling out the transgressors could have provided some much-needed education while still providing a “pretty picture” for the paper. Yes, buried in the text is the weakly worded, “crowds have been known to damage the fields by not staying on the trails …,” but it isn’t enough. A quotation from a botanical expert about how walking in the fields damages the poppies’ seed pods preventing future flowers would have been useful.
Surely the Courier could have devoted the space to local news such as groups and individuals preparing for Earth Day events and the Claremont Garden Tour on Sunday.
Charles Hepperle
Publisher’s note: I understand the photo appears to show people trampling on wildflowers, but in fact they are using a clearly marked short trail to avoid just that. Although I did see examples of what Mr. Hepperle wrote about, this image, taken with a telephoto lens, is not one of them. PW.


Poppies, puppies, and long lenses
Dear editor:
Excellent picture, Mr. Weinberger [“Super bloom BOOM!” April 21]. Perfect exposure, attractive couple, cute dog, and the fields of poppies are stunning!
Perfect in every way — except that the people in the photograph are clearly not on any established trail, dogs are specifically prohibited, and the use of drones (page 4) within the poppy preserve is illegal.
Next year, please feature a front page picture that does not depict the trampling of our California state flower!
Marc Merritt
Editor’s note: see publisher’s note above.


Kudos to Courier editor for taking on the gun issue
Dear editor:
I have lived in Claremont for 37 years. I bought my house so that my children could go to Claremont schools. As a college student, I worked on two newspapers and aspired to be a journalist (I chose education instead). I learned in my classes that, at their finest, journalists are the investigative watchdogs of a democracy. In your recent commentary on gun violence [“This is who we are,” April 21] you stepped up to being the finest that journalism can be. Thank you for taking a risk that will no doubt offend many but will hopefully inspire those who have been waiting for our town to step up and lead, as it should, in these times. The next generations deserve that.
Gorman Bentley


Watkins intentionally misrepresents ‘red flag’ laws
Dear editor:
The sobering and thoughtfully written opinion piece by Mick Rhodes in last week’s Courier [“This is who we are,” April 21], with carefully documented facts and devastating examples of the gun violence rampant in this country, vs. the letter to the editor from gun toting, civil rights “authority” Leslie Watkins in the same edition, sums up the impossible dilemma we’re facing.
After skewering his “foaming at the mouth” critics for their purported inaccurate statements, Watkins purposely misinterprets the red flag laws, “passed by anti-gun extremists,” which he states give authorities license to barge into your home, look under your bed, and seize any firearms they may find.
In reality, red flag laws, funded in part by the U.S. Justice Department, allow family members, employers, or co-workers to seek a restraining order to temporarily remove firearms from an individual who has been deemed a threat to himself or others. A judge must make the determination that there is sufficient evidence to grant the restraining order. The program has these specific checks in place to protect your Second Amendment rights and to “help protect children, families, and communities across the country from senseless acts of gun violence,” states U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. As a vocal supporter of civil rights, it would be helpful if Watkins got his facts straight, especially on landmark bipartisan gun legislation passed by Congress.
Mary F. Weis


Gun advocate’s research, logic called into question
Dear editor:
The article “This is who we are” [April 21] factually presents the reasons for and deadly impacts of our country’s standing among developed nations regarding mass shootings and gun ownership (332 million people, 465 million guns).
In the same edition, Leslie “more guns more safety” Watkins states as fact: “3,000,000 people a year that actually defend themselves with a firearm” thus deterring crimes. This smelled like BS, so I looked it up and found that an in-depth study by The Harvard Injury Control Research Center concluded this claim is bogus. Some excerpts: “Guns are not used millions of times each year in self-defense”; “Guns in the home are used more often to intimidate intimates than to thwart crime”; and “Self-defense gun use is rare and not more effective at preventing injury than other protective actions.”
There exists “research” that supports Leslie’s claim. Reminds me of the “research” tobacco companies sponsored that “proved” smoking not harmful to human health.
Leslie then declared me and another letter writer to be “emotionally unhinged.” The evidence? We disagreed with him. Sound familiar? MAGA’s dear leader paints anyone disagreeing with him as “Deranged, sick.” Russia perfected this means of diagnosis. Leslie then asserts that our insanity will likely make us victims of California’s red flag law, “passed by anti-gun extremists.” So, my house could be searched and my firearms confiscated. Leslie, a search of my home for guns would come up empty. I don’t own a gun, never have felt I needed one. I’m not consumed by the fear ginned up by the gun lobby and their political and media lapdogs, and I’ve lived more than half my life in East Coast urban neighborhoods.
Mark Levine


All forms of gun control create new potential victims
Dear editor:
Bad guys don’t attack police stations and all forms of gun control make it easier for them to hunt for victims.
Is there one law that has stopped shootings or a murder?
If the Kool-Aid de jour limits the freedom/civil rights of any one person, let alone an entire country and the generations to come, do you really think that emotionalism is a great way to shape government policy?
Unfortunately, there will always be evil, stupid, crazy, hungry, immature, and desperate people.
Common sense tells us that giving up your right to protect yourself from them — and the government — is a horrible idea being pushed by those that hide their agenda with pretend answers.
To be effective in reducing all murders, you must take away the incentives to kill as well as remove those with a propensity to kill. Anything less is to be exactly what bad guys want you to be — a victim.
For those that believe in unicorns and laws that will stop shootings, remember that when the police are minutes away, about 3,000,000 people every year stay alive because they had a gun on them to stop a bad guy.
Leslie Watkins


The perpetual gun debate will never change minds/hearts
Dear editor:
All of the recent letters about guns (going back to the original one in mid-March [Readers’ comments, March 10]) have illustrated one thing quite clearly: very few people (if any) will ever change their mind regarding, well, just about anything. Confirmation bias is once again on full display. The back-and-forth by the original writer and subsequent respondents to the initial letter is the print equivalent of a tennis match that never ends and I’d bet none of the writers (myself included, who wrote only one letter, period) will suddenly have a change of mind. Philosophical epiphanies are few and far between, especially when it comes to hot-button political issues. Let’s face it, we probably have a better chance of winning a jackpot in Vegas than of convincing others that we’re right and they’re wrong.
Don Linde
La Verne

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