Letters to the editor: February 6 - 12, 2014

Published on Wed, Feb 5, 2014
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The Editor:
On January 20, five Washington state legislators sponsored House Bill (HB) 2529, which would eliminate taxes on the purchase of firearms and ammunition for the next 10 years.
On January 24, in an interview on KTTH radio, state representative Jason Overstreet (R-District 42) said, “We want to encourage the defense of self and the defense of property… we need to expand gun freedoms.” Representative Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), also interviewed, said, “The ability to defend oneself is a basic necessity, like food and water which are exempted from sales tax. It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt, more firearms in a society cuts crime in that society.”
I find this kind of thinking irrational and dangerous. Guns are designed to kill and destroy life, while the basic necessities for life are simply food, clean water, air and shelter.
The U.S. suffers from random mass shootings constantly. I propose stricter regulations on purchasing guns, and outlawing the purchase of military style assault weapons for any reason. The U.S. Constitution gives us the right to own a gun, but was written before we had an organized military. Now we have a strong U.S. military and a National Guard. If you want a gun for hunting or self-defense, mandatory safety measures should be met, along with background checks and other regulations. It should be difficult to buy and own a gun and it should not be tax-free!
The other aspect of HB 2529 is defense of private property rights. Property rights is a hot issue right now in Whatcom County, with citizens, farmers and First Nations’ concerns relating to coal and oil transport. Out of 10 proposed refineries and/or terminals planned in Washington and Oregon, four affect Whatcom and Skagit counties. Perhaps HB 2529 is really about increased strength for government officials and large corporations, whose goals sometimes include unfettered invasion of private or public lands. The NRA openly advocates guns for everyone to defend us from the U.S. government. This idea contributes to aggressive and irrational behavior and incites people to act before they think.
I encourage everyone to write or call your representatives about Washington’s HB 2529. Be diligent to vote in every local election; it’s not only our right, but also our duty.
Christine Westland
Birch Bay

The Editor:
A friend recently had a tragic situation and lost her home. Her friends rallied together and helped get her an apartment. That got me thinking about the people on street corners holding cardboard signs saying “homeless” or “need work.”
They aren’t as fortunate and cared for as my friend. Does the responsibility fall on our community to help? If so, how much does that cost? So I did some research. Utah found that it costs about $11,000 per year to provide for a homeless person. That seems like a lot. But it costs $16,000 for everyone they don’t take care of. Could that be right?
Negative interactions with police, living conditions resulting in poorer health and “unpaid” trips to the emergency ward all cost more. A study here in Bellingham showed that when the chronically homeless are taken care of they have 65 percent fewer police contacts and a 90 percent reduction in jail bookings! That saves us money.
So, to the Bellingham City Council, thank you for increasing our local human services budget last year! I would encourage county council to allocate Economic Development Initiative funds to support infrastructure for low-income housing. Also, our state government needs to preserve important funding for the homeless by continuing document-recording fees this session.
My kids tease me about liking coupons and good deals. Well, taking care of the homeless is like a two-for-one coupon. It feels good in my heart to help a homeless person and it’s actually an economic benefit to our community.
Paul Orlowski

The Editor:
I was born and raised in Buffalo and lived through our Bills’ four Super Bowl losses, so I understand the need for fan distraction. But surely the Seahawks’ stellar play can entertain and sustain crowds without compromising the well being of animals. Using a live bird as a mascot is worse than Scott Norwood’s “wide right.”
Football games are loud, and the Seahawks’ “12th man” is legendary. But the screaming fans, air horns, music and amplified sound systems can be terrifying for birds. It’s cruel to subject Taima to this gratuitous promotion.
A life in captivity is a miserable existence for any bird, even under the best of circumstances. Be good sports, Seahawks; retire Taima.
Jennifer O’Connor
PETA Foundation
Norfolk, Virginia

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