- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2007

Buckle up

I am incredulous New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine was not wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle traveling 91 mph in a 65 mph zone (“Erratic driver tale in crash debunked,” Nation, Thursday). Whether or not state trooper Robert Rosinski ordered the governor to obey safety regulations is irrelevant; this is something that by now should be automatic with everyone.

What boggles the mind is that the governor’s automobile was racing to a meeting with Don Imus and the Rutgers women’s basketball team. This is not a crisis situation, and the excessive speed involved makes a mockery of the word “emergency.”

Many motorists refuse to get out of the way, or are reluctant to get out of the way when they perceive emergency vehicles are merely using their flashing lights and sirens for convenience. Sadly, the example set by Mr. Corzine is a classic example of misuse of the provisions for rapid response.

If getting to a meeting with Mr. Imus and the Scarlet Knights basketball team demanded hazardous driving and police emergency protocol, how many other times has this privilege been foisted on us? Makes you wonder.

ROSALIND NESTER ELLIS

Baltimore, Md.,

In the aftermath

After the massacre at Virginia Tech, debates over American gun control policies will likely follow (“Massacre at Virginia Tech,” Page 1, Tuesday).

School shootings are becoming increasingly deadly and frequent. Policymakers, for good reason, will likely debate how to stop this trend, and more than a few politicians will purpose stricter gun control legislation. However, gun control alone cannot protect our schools, and any effect from increased gun control may be small.

Even if politicians change the Second Amendment and completely ban firearms, there will always be a black market for guns, and would-be shooters only need one firearm to kill. The Virginia Tech shooter legally bought a semiautomatic handgun; but no matter how much gun control there is, motivated buyers will purchase firearms.

That being said, we are not powerless against school shootings. Lawmakers should consider other solutions as well.

First, we must recognize that these shootings happen because of psychological problems. Teens are committing suicide in ways that were uncommon 30 years ago. Instead of just killing themselves, some are now deciding to kill others in the process.

We must find ways to identify and resolve psychological problems early. Perhaps these problems start in elementary school and escalate throughout their lives; or perhaps they don’t start until the would-be shooter is a teenager. Whichever is the case, more research needs to be done on how to identify and resolve these psychological problems.

Second, campus security is frequently unarmed, and thus defenseless against a shooter. If every school had trained armed security guards, then perhaps they could kill the shooter before police and SWAT teams arrive.

Perhaps gun control would work as part of an integrated strategy; however, it certainly will not solve the problem unless we combine it with other programs. The most gun control alone could offer is giving parents a false sense of security.

MARTIN H. SAAVEDRA

Kensington

Our country is saddened by the horrific, senseless massacre that claimed 33 lives on the Virginia Tech campus. (“One horrific morning,” Editorial, Wednesday). Our thoughts and prayersgo out to the families and friends who lost a loved one and to the university community.

Following the tragedy we will again talk at lengthabout gun control, gun registration and the Second Amendment. We will hear often from the National Rifle Association. Nothing positive will result from all the talk; we will go back to our daily routines until the next gun tragedy occurs and then repeat the cycle. Surely, this time, America can come up with some constructive measures to help reduce violence significantly in our gun-infested culture.

PAUL L. WHITELEY SR.

Louisville, Ky.

I am writing in light of the recent homicides that occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech. I’ve been in law enforcement for almost 18 years; two with the U.S. Department of Energy and 16 with the D.C. police department (MPDC). Handguns have been banned in D.C. since 1976, yet the nation’s capital has held the highest homicide rate of any city in this country for more than 10 of the 16 years I’ve served here as a cop. The majority of these homicides have been with handguns, not a single one having been legally purchased. Not one.

I, and many of you reading this, own firearms. We’ve all experience frustration and anger. Yet we’ve never even considered going on a killing spree. Whether our religious beliefs, moral upbringing, appreciation for the necessity of civil behavior, common sense, recognition of consequences or our genetic code is responsible the result is the same: We all respect the sanctity of human life.

Few that have actually seen it care to believe in its existence, but evil is real. Whenever a tragedy such as the shootings at Virginia Tech occur, we look for something to blame. Pistols. Insufficient background checks. Ammunition. Lack of notification of recent eventsby e-mail in a timely fashion. The school president. Lack of school security. That fact is that guns exist. They cannot be uninvented. Research any fact-based source of information and you’ll see that the laxer the gun laws, the lower the violent crime. Everywhere, every time. You’ll see that despite rumor and conjecture, far more atrocities are prevented by those that possess legal firearms than actually occur. You’ll find that the lives of innocent women and children are saved daily because someone was armed with a gun.

We as a society need to look at the real reasons behind the outbreak of violence in this nation. When we find ourselves more concerned with an aging shock jock than we are with the constant violence displayed on our prime time TV and news media, we have to question the validity of our priorities. All I know is that these same guns were around when I was a child, with far less restrictions on ownership and carry rights, and I do not recall any surfeit of mass shootings. What we didn’t have were hyperviolent video games and films depicting hyperrealistic violence. What we did have was a healthy respect for our parents, our church and each other, and an understanding that there were consequences for our actions.

MICHAEL SKELLY

Arlington

Remembering Don Ho

The obituary of Hawaiian entertainer Don Ho of “Tiny Bubbles” fame did not mention Mr. Ho’s military service during the Cold War (“Hawaiian singer Don Ho dies of heart failure at 76,” Nation, Sunday).

Mr. Ho became an Air Force pilot in 1954. He served until 1959, piloting C-97 Stratofreighter transports of the Military Air Transport Service on long-range flights in the Pacific.

I interviewed him in 2000 for a small article that appeared in the Air Force Times. Mr. Ho told me that in flight training, he flew the T-33 Shooting Star, which was then becoming the standard advanced trainer in the Air Force. “It was the only fast jet I got to fly,” Mr. Ho said.

His Air Force duty ended in 1959. Having served in the Air Force at the same time as Mr. Ho, I often think of him as the “citizen soldier” who did his duty during the era between the Korean and Vietnam wars, with no fuss and no fanfare. He was always friendly to military people who attended his performances, and they liked him.

ROBERT F. DORR

Oakton

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