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The city knows this ordinance won't hold up

In a May 16 editorial, the Post-Gazette took predictable advantage of an offer from the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence in Washington, D.C. ("Gun Battle: Pittsburgh Now Has an Important Ally at Its Side"). As a self-proclaimed activist for the right to keep and bear arms and as a constitutional conservative, I find that while newsworthy, the editorial comments were biased and certain facts were not revealed.

First and foremost, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania holds unto itself the right to legislate firearms regulations. This prevents a hodgepodge of municipal ordinances and provides for standardization throughout the state. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl knows full good and well that this ordinance will not slow straw man purchases, that the penalty for straw man purchases is steep and that the ordinance will not stand up to the commonwealth's pre-emption statutes.

There is a notice posted in most gun stores that reads "Don't lie for the other guy." Honest members of the citizenry do not lie, do not act as straw purchasers and have the sense to file a robbery report should a valuable firearm be stolen. The ordinance is superfluous and unconstitutional and will have zero impact on the law-abiding gun owners who reside in the city of Pittsburgh.

Bethel Park

NRA hypocrisy

In suing the city of Pittsburgh over an ordinance that "compels" gun owners to notify the police within 24 hours of a gun being lost or stolen ("Pittsburgh Accepts Brady Help to Defend Suit Over Gun Law," May 13), the National Rifle Association has betrayed the values of the majority of its members. Since when are conservatives opposed to personal responsibility?

Squirrel Hill

Unconscionable, PG

I am writing in regard to the April 28 editorial "In Its Sights." While I have become used to the Post-Gazette being adamant in defense of the First Amendment, such as your editorials "Access Squelched" and "Read Less About It," and being just as adamant in attacking the Second Amendment, this editorial reached new lows.

"In Its Sights" urges the city to "give the NRA a fight" to enforce an ordinance that the city law department believes might not hold up in court and that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl believed was unenforceable and was pre-empted by state law. The Post-Gazette, after urging the city to use taxpayers' hard-earned money to attempt to defend an ordinance that "might not hold up in court," urges the city to consider whether "an appeal might not be wise, given continuing financial restraints."

It is hard to decide which is more objectionable: defending the First Amendment while attacking the Second, prompting the city to defend an ordinance that the city law department and mayor believe is unenforceable, or urging the city to use tax dollars to fight and lose the first case and then consider whether an appeal might be too costly.

I have a suggestion for those who wish to attempt to enforce an unenforceable ordinance: The loser could be liable for the attorneys' fees and costs of both parties. If some City Council members and the Post-Gazette feel strongly about defending this ordinance, then they should agree to be personally liable for any judgment that will occur in defending the ordinance. Perhaps wiser minds will prevail if they are using their own and not taxpayer funds.


Extend that logic

In response to the May 13 letter "Guns and Truth": Every day I read a news story in this very paper about someone killed in a car, truck or motorcycle crash, or someone being stabbed to death, or someone being beaten to death with a baseball bat, hammer or some other blunt object. By the logic of Arthur S. McAra's letter all of these inanimate objects should be banned by law from use by every U.S. citizen.

In his letter he states, "How long is it going to take ... to realize -- no guns, no gunshot deaths." By that same logic, no cars, trucks or motorcycles -- no vehicle deaths; no knives -- no stabbing deaths; no blunt-force objects -- no beating deaths. By that logic any food that contains fat, sodium or cholesterol should be taken off store shelves because it could cause a heart attack!

Get a grip, Mr. McAra; it is not the inanimate object that kills people ... it is the person in control of the inanimate object who kills people. When will the anti-gun supporters realize that?


Guns and safety

I am writing in response to the April 30 letter "The Last Thing Any Household Needs Is More Guns." The writer finds offense at people buying and owning more than one or two guns. Does she also find offense at men who collect cars or women who collect shoes?

Yes, many are afraid that with anticipated gun bans, legal firearms will become more difficult to get as well as be very costly. But in this, as in all topics about guns, it is not the number of guns a person has, nor the gun itself. It is the fact that gun owners need to use/practice common sense in the storing and use of both firearms and ammunition, especially in the presence of children. I agree with the old adage that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

As a retired corrections officer, I understand completely why law-abiding citizens would and should be able to own legal firearms. I'm sorry that the writer, Margie Swanson, feels that carrying a gun is not "manly." But I would rather be able to feel safe in an unavoidable confrontation than be concerned with looking "manly."


Assessment sense

Pardon me if I don't share Brian O'Neill's zeal for Pittsburgh reassessments ("Reassessing the Land of the Underassessed," May 7 column). It has nothing to do with the principles and everything to do with the practice.

Our problems began with a bungled assessment by Sabre Systems that measured the size of our homes and lots with admirable precision then fed them into a demonstrably bogus pricing model. What is worse, actual sales prices appear to get no consideration under the current assessment approach.

Former County Executive Jim Roddey et al. bought Sabre's argument that if the reassessment captured price differences between neighborhoods it was valid. Unfortunately none of us pay taxes on a neighborhood. Instead we must pay our taxes a house at a time where the models used for these assessments have erred by as much as 100 percent. Sales prices and rulings of appeals boards establish the "market value" of a home much more precisely than any model-based estimate can, but it is precisely these good valuations that get thrown out and replaced with erroneous ones every time we reassess.

Until changes are made to favor real pricing data over fictitious estimates, many of us must endure repeated and senseless appeals every time Judge R. Stanton Wettick takes to the bench.

Point Breeze

This plan for a children's zone deserves our consideration

John Wallace is correct about the need for a "children's zone" in Homewood ("Homewood 'Children's Zone' Vision Advocated," May 13). Writers from William Julius Wilson to Lisbeth Schorr to David Rusk have presented mountains of evidence that the crisis of children, especially African-American children, in city after city, is a crisis with complex roots requiring complex solutions.

The idea that there's one program or one approach that will solve all problems and requires support over all other approaches is dangerous. The human and social service sectors in Allegheny County have learned over many years the importance of comprehensive, holistic answers to the problems facing children and families. Despite that learning, severe fragmentation continues to characterize service. There are still far too many categorical programs that treat individual symptoms and at best generate very limited results.

The design of the Children's Village can create significant and sustainable success if given a chance. Far too many children and families in Homewood -- and many other communities in Allegheny County -- are failing. The data and indicators are all too familiar: from teen pregnancy to violent crime to school failure to family abuse and neglect. All of us need to give Dr. Wallace's proposals the most serious consideration.

Highland Park

The writer is the former executive director of Allegheny County Children and Youth Services.

We receive more letters than we can fit into the limited space on the editorial page, so we'd like to share some additional letters with our Post-Gazette Web site readers.

Not a trade worth making

I really appreciated the article by Ann Rodgers "Catholics Debate Whether Voting for Abortion Candidates Allowed" (May 19). The Catholic Church has not been unified for some time, and it's tearing away at the very fiber of its existence!

The life issue is the most fundamental issue of the Catholic faith. On one hand, you have a priest saying it's OK to cast your ballot for a candidate who favors abortion as long as that's not the reason you are voting for him. I could not disagree more wholeheartedly.

The quote from Upper St. Clair attorney Bradley Tupi hits the nail right on the head. The story said, "Since fetuses are human and abortion kills a million each year in the U.S., he said, voting for a candidate that favors abortion rights is like 'voting for Hitler because the autobahn and the Volkswagen are good ideas.' "

Another comparison is that you won't sell your soul to the devil ? you know he will give you your heart's desire, but at the cost of your life so you don't make a deal with him. There are some things that are not worth the trade. What is more valuable than life itself?

Castle Shannon

The core issues: personal and parental responsibility

I read your report on sexually transmitted diseases and the particular impact on the black community ("STDs Hit Blacks Hard," May 14). Regardless of the group affected, the real issues relate to individual responsibility and parental involvement where teens and young adults are concerned. I hate the constant reference to racism and the implicit continuation of a "victim" agenda promoted by various groups.

The decline in morality and religious influence, increased family breakdowns, increases in the number of single parents and absentee fathers and a victim mentality (as opposed to individual responsibility, self-discipline and restraint, delayed gratification and high moral values) are some of the underlying reasons for STD-related problems regardless of the community.

Some people perpetuate the victim mentality and the view that racism is the cause of certain problems like the spread of STDs. It is offensive to members of the black and white community who take responsibility for their actions.

Ashburn, Va.

The writer is formerly of Forest Hills.

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We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.


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