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Anti-Gun Nuts

Re: "The Bullet (Loop)hole" by Francis X. Gilpin (Feb. 28-March 5)

Your article is a lesson in the type of credulity that the left would never display if the issue were legalizing pot or the (now discredited) teen alcohol study. For the record, the NRA (of which I am a member) does not say that people like those in the Million Mom movement or Handgun Control Inc. are necessarily prohibitionists. However, they at least facilitate firearms prohibition by presenting distorted reasons for passing "more laws," the end result of which is the banning of firearms.

By giving currency to this nutty idea about foreign terrorists and gun shows, who have access to any weapon they want from places like Iran or who frequently manufacture their own guns, you are only feeding the ignorant and biased notions of the likes of Handgun Control Inc., which would like to shut down gun shows for starters, register all guns next and proceed to confiscation.

As for the stupid argument about Washington, D.C., the fact is that D.C. bans guns for starters and has a notoriously high murder rate. Of course, Virginia, right across the river, has a much lower rate. Do the guns suddenly become evil when they get to Washington, D.C., or New York?

Leonard Martino
Tampa

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Thank you so much. It is the most honest reporting I have seen on the lack of sensible gun legislation in Florida (and America). It is unfortunate that more people do not understand the ramifications of lax gun laws both nationally and internationally. I do hope many of our Florida legislators will read your article and act on the current legislation for closing the gun show loophole in Florida.

Helene Pasternak
Broward County

More Fun with FOIA

Re: "A Matter of Public Record" by Fawn Germer (Feb. 20-26)

Nice job highlighting one of the key weapons citizens can have in their arsenal when dealing with public agencies and organizations.

An additional and perhaps most important freedom of information tool available to all Floridians is open access to the performance and history of Florida's police agents.

All on-the-job records are available for police officers, most notably their history for making false or exaggerated claims about traffic offenses and drug arrests. Many drug arrests have their foundation in an initially questionable cause for a traffic stop and the resulting search of the motorist and vehicle.

We teach our members and the public in our awareness forums the urgent need to request an officer's file anytime they are cited for a traffic violation that may be without merit. And we also believe it is essential for any case involving search and seizure. Checking an officer's record can possibly provide supporting evidence that the officer routinely has questionable searches or questionable radar readings for alleged speeders.

The most frequent abuse we find is officers claiming to have received consent to search when in fact the opposite is true. One of the most common "failures" is found in police drug dogs. When these dogs register a "hit" and a search results, it is often presumed that probable cause exists. However, many dogs, when their record is inspected, are found to give false "hits" in well over half their cases. This can be a legitimate and successful Fourth Amendment-based defense.

If you feel you have a legitimate beef with either a traffic citation or a drug arrest we strongly recommend filing an FOIA request immediately as a tool for your defense.

It is our belief that the majority of police officers perform their jobs with honesty and sincere intent. However, we also know that the primary reasons for police dishonesty and corruption are those associated with their being the frontline soldiers in the War Against Americans, a.k.a. the War Against Drugs.

Stephen Heath
Drug Policy Forum of Florida
Clearwater

Spanking Offense

Re: "Personal Foul" by Francis Gilpin (Feb. 20-26)

Although I have no personal involvement with this subject, I did graduate from the University of South Florida and support their sports programs enthusiastically. The more I read about the various "he said/she said" allegations, one point is glaringly clear: Adults need to remember to just tell the damned truth!

Is Lee Roy Selmon under scrutiny? I doubt it. He knows right from wrong. How about poor Hiram Green, caught in the middle? It seems that when his brain, his pride and duty to do what's right all spoke up at the same time, he came forward and told it like it was.

So now Hiram can sleep again at night, and the others, they can try and figure out when to finally say what is true, and how much of it to say. And just like when our folks caught us lying, we got punished and so, I bet, will the players in this awful stage show.

Joe L. Dunn
Tampa

We Need More Panaceks

Re: "Not Child's Pay" by Francis X. Gilpin (Feb. 6-12)

Why is it that our society values children and families so little that professionals in this field are routinely, vastly underpaid? Those who choose to devote their talents and energies to making this world a better place are rarely thanked or appreciated, but diminishing them professionally and caricaturizing them personally is unconscionable. If Dr. Panacek worked in corporate America, her salary would not be questioned (and would be considered low if she were a male). The fact that her Board of Directors initiated and approved her salary increase reflects their recognition of her skills. We need more Luanne Panaceks, both in this community and in our nation.

Laurie Cunningham
Walker Trieschman Professional Development Unit
Child Welfare League of America

Correction The first Palestinian intifada began in December 1987 and continued until 1991. A recent film column contained the wrong dates.

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