Letters for May 7, 2009

Editor’s note: Last issue’s Guest Comment and Downstroke drew floods of responses, the vast majority in dissent. Samplings for each follow.

Stick with the 2nd Amendment

Re: “2nd Amendment? How about a 28th?” (Guest Comment, by Stephen W. King, CN&R, April 30):

Mr. King’s heart is obviously in the right place as he reflects on a number of sad shooting tragedies, but once again feeling trumps thought.

On the one hand, Mr. King worries about “the price we must perpetually pay for our historic commitment to unfettered and universal ownership of virtually any and every type of firearm”; on the other, he says we must “discuss a route to a safer society while still protecting hunting, self-defense and sport shooting.” Since that is an irreconcilable duality, what is the point of the commentary?

Contrary to Mr. King’s opinion, firearm ownership is heavily “fettered,” nonuniversal and limited to certain weapons. And there is ample evidence that our permissive, self-indulgent and morally bankrupt society might be more relevant than the tool used to commit the crime.

In the mid-1980s, I was living in Houston when I awoke one night to hear noises downstairs. I took my handgun out and crept to the top of the stairs, heart pounding. I yelled, “Who’s there?” and was answered by footsteps followed by two quick “pops”—the intruder fired pistol rounds into the wall in my direction as he fled.

Mr. King, if that had ever happened to you, I guarantee you would own a gun today and your commentary wouldn’t have been written.

Joe Kirklin

Mr. King, please realize that the United States is rapidly becoming a police state, just like England, where there are more than 6 million surveillance cameras in London alone. The only thing keeping the police state at bay is that we the people still have our guns. By the way, the British want their guns back!

In the United States, approximately 3.2 million crimes are prevented every year by privately owned guns. If you succeed in banning guns, those 3.2 million crimes will not be stopped, and if only 10 percent result in a fatality, 320,000 people will die simply because you do not want people to be able to defend themselves.

What you are really trying to do is punish 300 million people for the crimes of 1/10,000 of 1 percent of the population. There are only about 80 million gun owners in the U.S., but when you take away a right, you take it from those who choose to exercise that right and from those who have yet to exercise that right.

Mike Peters

The Ottoman Empire under the Young Turks, 1915-1923—1.5 million Armenians murdered. Russia under Lenin and Stalin, 1917-1953—estimates range from 10 million to 20 million murdered. Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler 1933-1945—6 million Jews [and millions of others] murdered. Besides the fact that under these regimes the state sponsored the wholesale slaughter of its own citizens, all of these regimes first disarmed those they intended to brutalize.

Henry Morgenthau Sr. made note of this fact while he was an ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. Lenin in August of 1918 ordered those found with weapons to be shot. And Hitler understood, more clearly than most, that a people’s right to bear arms is a safeguard against tyranny when he said, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subjected people to carry arms….”

Mr. King, the Second Amendment is not about hunting, sport shooting, or even common self defense. It is about the people’s ability to prevent, as an absolute last resort, the aims of a dictator or tyrant. All of our civil liberties are for this end and all must be zealously protected.

Joshua W.H. Niswonger

I am writing to address some factual errors in the opinion by Mr. King. In the most recent reporting year (2006), the CDC reports 12,791 firearm homicides. I could find no confirmation of the “1 million since 1964” claim.

As for the statement regarding our “historic commitment to unfettered and universal ownership of virtually any and every type of firearm,” this also is incorrect. Firearm sales are tightly regulated throughout the country, especially in California. Regarding the right to bear arms, it is illegal for any civilian without a CCW [permit] to posses a loaded weapon anywhere except for their personal or business property and certain wilderness areas.

Mr. King asks how we can “get past this.” The essential starting point is honest and factual debate, something that I would think a university professor would appreciate. Maybe it is time for another approach to the topic, rather than more misinformation and further shredding of the Constitution.

Jeff Monian

Same old, same old. Well, a bit novel, I guess, referring to a new Constitutional amendment. But, in terms of not having the foggiest notion of what’s what, another opinion in a never-ending litany of the gun-grabbers.

Dave Cumming
Spokane, Wash.

It is ironic that the writer’s name is Stephen King, for what he so simply proposes would be a true horror.

For an instructive look at history, check out what happened when the U.S. Constitution was amended to ban alcohol sales during Prohibition. Now, imagine the same thing, only with guns, not bottles of whiskey and barrels of beer.

Roy Hill
Rudy, Ark.

Guns don’t kill people! People kill people! You show me how any gun by itself has ever killed anyone and I will give you all of my guns!

Jay Overholtzer

League of their own

Re: “Reach out, black leaders say” (Downstroke, CN&R, April 30):

That is bull; I think they’re trying to say they’re racist. I am a friend of the Grays’ and I am African American.

Alysha Teibel

So, what [Pastor Stephen] Shy is saying is that when a child does not sign up for a Little League baseball team, it is the Little League’s fault?!? And if it happens to be that the child in question is African-American or any other ethnicity, the Little League must be racist?

I have seen African-American boys on the Little League teams and I have also seen coaches and assistant coaches who are African American and Hispanic as well. Basically, Little League gives everyone equal opportunity to sign up for a team; no one is turned away, and it is the child’s responsibility to sign up, not the league’s.

Colton Anderson

Hundreds of kids show up to the tryouts every season based on the way the league advertises. Why is it that we all have to make “special concessions” because of the color of children’s skin? Why is it “good enough” for every other ethnic group but not the group Stephen Shy represents?

I would like to ask Pastor Shy how many “white” people there are in his ministry. What does he do to recruit white people into his ministry? What would the response be if I showed up with a group of white people from the community and “show of force in a nonviolent, positive way” at his facility?

This article and the message that Stephen Shy is sending in the community is specifically why there is still racial division and tension in this country. This entitlement to special treatment that he is promoting based on skin color is the reason why there will never be equality.

Robert St. Clair

Crying foul on penalty

Re: “Pickett omitted” (Letters, CN&R, April 30):

In Dudley Sharp’s response to “Reverend rebukes the ultimate condemnation” [April 23 Newslines], the Marquez case he cites is clearly an example of the point I tried to make in a previous letter [Feb. 28, 2008]: The death penalty, used as a deterrent or as punishment, is neither.

As a deterrent, it doesn’t work. Consider the Sandra Cantu case. The perpetrator of that crime had to know she (or he) would possibly face the death penalty. In the Marquez case, he had to know that Texas would execute him. The threat did not deter either individual from committing an unspeakable crime.

The death penalty is not punishment. Death is the end of punishment. Sitting in a tiny cell, knowing that this is what a convict faces for the rest of his or her life, is the punishment. The man who killed the four Oakland policemen preferred to die in a shootout rather than return to prison.

We need to change our attitude toward the death penalty. It needs to become a matter of protection of society rather than punishment. What should be considered is whether the individual is such a threat that his release, for whatever reason, would constitute eminent danger to the rest of society.

The death penalty should be reserved only for the most dangerous of criminals.

Robert Grignon

Alternatives view

Re: “Alternative energies” (Letters, CN&R, April 30):

Ron Acevedo’s letter is too pessimistic about future behavior of environmentalists. For the last 30 years, they have fought a desperate uphill battle against an implacable neo-con ideology that stonewalled against any energy research except more coal, petroleum and nuclear energy. If the Obama administration is honest, I think that many environmentalists will eventually climb down from their bristling defensiveness.

There is an 800-pound gorilla hidden inside the nuclear-energy business before nuclear wastes arrive at a repository. It is the process of nuclear-fuel recycling that removes and saves the fissionable plutonium in that waste.

If nuclear energy is widely adopted, then the pressure to extend our nuclear fuels by stockpiling large quantities of this plutonium will be irresistible. This plutonium is the stuff of which nuclear-bomb nightmares are made.

Biofuels could replace some of our petroleum, but ethanol production from grains is not one of them. This ethanol production uses incredibly primitive and energy-inefficient technology to convert cereal carbohydrates into ethanol. Unless it is carefully controlled, it can lead to food shortages in poor countries.

However, future genetic research will produce plants and micro-organisms that can be converted to biofuels far more efficiently.

For very practical reasons, we cannot immediately dismantle our larger hydroelectric facilities until we have replaced them with a combination of increased energy efficiency and more carbon-free energy resources. But there are many other smaller dams and water diversions that can be either removed or given a better environmental design.

John C. Callaway

Editor’s note: Mr. Callaway is the author of the April 23 Guest Comment to which Mr. Acevedo responded.

Expand does not equal preserve

Re: “Walmart expansion back on the front burner” (Downstroke, CN&R, April 23):

So far, Chico has lost Mervyn’s, Gottschalks, Circuit City, Linens n’ Things, Austin’s Furniture, McMahan’s Furniture, Copeland Sports, and Viking Sleep Center—with more to close. Chico already has a Walmart. I oppose the expansion of the existing store into a supercenter because it is unnecessary and inconsistent with responsible development.

Fifty percent of Walmart supercenters is devoted to discount grocery. Chico already has Winco, Food Maxx and Costco. Each offers discount prices, consumer choice and decent wages and benefits. A supercenter will close at least one of these stores, reducing both consumer choice and the number of well-paying jobs that support a strong middle class and promote a viable local economy.

We can’t afford to lose any more stores. A Walmart superstore is not the solution!

Emerald Behrens


Once again, I am impressed by the CAMMIES. Where else would you see Big Mo, Dick and Jane, and the Makai on the same stage? It is a wonderful event that comes off more like a celebration of the community than a competition. The folks who put all the hard work into this event should be congratulated.

I do have a few comments, though:

• A pox on the idiot who purloined the 12 pack of beer Jason Cassidy had brought to share with thirsty musicians backstage. Whoever you are, you belong in a different community.

• To the young man who exposed his penis on stage as celebration of winning his award: We all appreciate your joy and exuberance in being honored. This was a creative way of displaying your gratitude. However, I might suggest that you reconsider using the same method of expression … say, if you are excited about getting a loan to buy a car or excited about getting a job offer. It might not work as well. Funny stuff, though!

• Finally: The videos of the acceptance speeches were so creative, it is a shame that we all got a chance to see them only once … and then, in conditions where it was difficult to appreciate the sound quality. They were all funny and charming. It would be great if you could post those videos online.

Great job, News & Review. I am already looking forward to next year’s CAMMIES!

Peter Berkow

Market woes

I think this is the last time I’ll venture with my family to the Thursday Night Market. For the past few years, I’ve reconciled the feeling that it doesn’t feel like a place to bring our two small kids. We’ve endured the traffic backups on the Esplanade due to the street closings, the loud generators powering the food booths when we try to find a somewhat quiet place to eat, and the challenges of trying to support the food vendors who have something other than junk foods.

Last Thursday, we ate in the Phoenix Building and enjoyed ice cream afterward. When our children needed to use the bathroom, we found signs on the bathroom doors saying “closed” and directing us to the downtown Plaza or the bus depot. We decided we’d try a drink at Starbucks and use the bathrooms there only to find the same signs.

Now I realize that the downtown shops where we spend our money don’t want us there either. So we did use the plaza restrooms, only to find them completely filthy and with swastikas graffitied throughout.

I think we’ll stick with the Saturday farmers market, where folks are happy to see us and we feel good about taking the kids.

Steve Klein