Phones, texting and threats
I first will say that what happened at the movie theater in Wesley Chapel was a tragedy for both families, especially the young man and his family. I can understand some part of the argument. I am in my late 70s, and most men in the age group 68 to 78 served in the military when there was a draft system, and all healthy individuals served. Most of us were taught self-discipline and understanding but also how to make war.
The sad part is the younger generation does not understand how destructive the habit of continually texting and being on the phone is. I ride my bike in a safe manner each morning between the hours of 7 and 9. I have been bumped at least a dozen times by people texting or talking on the phone. I have had them roll through a stop sign and nearly hit me.
I have a license to carry but do not always carry, thankfully. Recently a young man about 40 who was texting rolled through a stop sign in front of me. I had to fall over to keep from getting hit. I yelled at him to be more careful — he was in a pickup truck. He turned around, rode up to me and threw a cup of coffee on me and called me many names. If I had my weapon with me I am afraid I might have used it, as I considered it a threat.
A threat is perceived differently by different people. When people are distracted by texting and phoning, whether on the street or in an enclosed building, the loud talking and gesturing is completely disrespectful, and it can cause problems, I am sorry to say.
Poorly trained and vetted
Why did a person with a concealed handgun permit in a Wesley Chapel theater think he had the right to use deadly force when irritated by someone texting? For the same reason two people in Tampa recently drew their concealed handguns over a parking space dispute. These cases, like hundreds of others, illustrate these people are poorly trained and vetted, are never retrained to deter leveraging their situation by threatening a person with a gun, and have been encouraged by the NRA’s “stand your ground” law to use deadly force any time their space is violated or if they feel threatened.
The hundreds of “stand your ground” shootings we studied after this law was passed proved the law was simply an anti-prosecutor law designed to expand the legal use of firearms. It never had anything to do with self defense. It sent Floridians in search of a permit and a gun to protect themselves from threats that never existed.
This permit has not been upgraded since it was passed in 1987. It is literally a joke, and not much better than the “sign here” permit the NRA originally demanded in 1987. A serious upgrade of the training and vetting for this permit to protect public safety is long overdue. The problem is the NRA and its Republican supporters always defer to the man with the gun. We think its time that changed.
Arthur C. Hayhoe
The writer is executive director of the Florida Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Inc.
Why didn’t he move?
What a senseless tragedy by an overzealous retired ex-cop who thinks he can tell anyone what to do because he used to wear a badge. You would think that for someone who was in law enforcement that he would know how to handle a situation without violence. This poor man was not doing anything that would warrant being killed, and in front of his wife. The man who killed him could have just moved to another seat but instead had to show the victim he was the boss.
Another thing that really bothered me is that the shooter was walking out of the theater in handcuffs but not being restrained by any cops after the incident. If that had been someone other than retired law enforcement he would have had cops on each arm while being escorted to the patrol car. They need to be held to the same standards as we are and not be given preferential treatment.
The article in the paper said what a great cop this guy was, but in reality he took away a husband, father and son from loved ones. I only hope that this person is not allowed to plea bargain (because he is an ex-cop) to maybe disturbing the peace, and if he is convicted he gets the maximum sentence for this totally senseless killing. If this letter conveys that I am angry, it’s because I am.
Regarding “National disgrace” (Your Views, Jan. 14): It seems that people have the mistaken idea that if you’re receiving unemployment benefits or a myriad of other welfare programs that somehow you won’t be in poverty. The fact is, if you’re collecting money from any of these programs, you are poor, and as long as you are on these programs, you remain poor.
Democrats think that if you have a lot of people collecting different types of welfare we are fighting income inequality and poverty. The truth is you’re not fighting income inequality and poverty until fewer people are collecting welfare. A strong economy, low unemployment and very few people collecting welfare are signs of winning the “War on Poverty.” Democrats, on the other hand, try to convince people that they are poor and solicit them to join welfare programs. That’s not a war on poverty — that’s instigating class warfare.
Our present situation may necessitate temporary long-term unemployment benefits, but all the GOP is asking for is that we pay for it with cuts in spending somewhere else. That’s not a disgrace; that’s common sense.
Road to hell
The old adage of the road to hell is paved with good intentions still holds true today. One only has to look at your recent article “Tribute to local hero mired by bureaucracy” by Mike Salinero to see how the best intentions to honor this Tampa soldier, the second Congressional Medal of Honor winner from Tampa, with a small memorial on Bayshore got sidetracked by red tape. Realistically, looking at the proposal by Mark Sharpe, it should have been a slam-dunk thing — after all, what are a few bags of concrete mix and a brass plaque to bestow honors? But, no, those involved in all parts of the government bureaucracy have shown how that road is paved even with the best intentions of Sharpe.
Well, Mike, at least you thought of it.
Jerry C. Hiers