Big campaign money taints gun issue
Two well-written letters spoke to how we address gun violence (Feb. 7 Pulse):
Lora Mae Frecks said she’d finally understood that Omaha’s No. 1 African-American homicide rate is seen by other Omahans as irrelevant to the city’s overall quality of life. She said she’d heard “the categorizing of a population as an other and the dismissing of that category as irrelevant.”
Carrie Conradson Halford was wrong in asserting that gun laws are not to blame for this homicide rate. However, she expressed well the fear, promoted by the gun lobby, that continues to separate us from one another. She suggests that any regulation of guns, any at all, is the same as disarming honest folks and endangering their lives.
The big money in politics has enabled our politicians, at all levels, to avoid taking action on this problem because they do not need this minority of Omahans.
The big money in politics has instilled fear in Nebraskans, who no longer expect to live safely in their homes unless they are armed.
How can we continue the pretense of being a great city in which to live and work without accepting responsibility for north Omaha gun violence? What is more important than peace in all of our streets and homes?
It is unbelievable that in 21st-century Nebraska we are powerless to stop this killing.
Jim Boucher, Valley, Neb.
Guns are merely the instrument
I would like to gently correct Carol Sanderhoff, who said in her well-written and thoughtful letter, “Guns also take lives” (Feb. 7 Pulse).
This is just not true. The gun is simply an instrument, as is a knife, a hammer or anything else used to kill. The killer takes the life, not the instrument. They don’t put the gun on trial. They put the user on trial.
In the debate about guns, this is one of two things that liberals cannot or will not understand.
The other is that more laws controlling guns will never help, because — as Carrie Conradson Halford said in her Pulse letter of the same day — criminals don’t pay any attention to gun laws already on the books. Why would they care about new ones?
P.L. Butcher, Shenandoah, Iowa
Only other guns can stop armed killer
I’m amazed at the lack of reasoning in “gun control” people. They say “introducing more guns isn’t the answer.” It is the only answer.
The only way to stop an armed killer is with another gun readily available. Police cannot be expected to anticipate an attack on the public by some mentally unbalanced gunman. They show up later to count the bodies.
A “gun-free zone” is a potential death trap. In it, a would-be killer can be fairly sure no one will shoot back and stop him. Teachers should be given the right to carry concealed guns if they so desire, with adequate training. Armed airline pilots have helped stop hijackings. Armed ships’ crews have reduced piracy at sea.
Lowell Bloemker, Fremont, Neb.
Mental health, gun security, involvement
In response to the misinformed gun control advocates: We as a society need:
>> More emphasis on mental health government funding.
>> Changes in our judiciary. Send the gun criminals to Afghanistan and keep our troops here to combat gun violence in cities.
>> Gun owners to secure their weapons in a locked gun vault.
>> Retailers to have state-of-the-art security.
>> Personal gun sales to be completed at a retailer.
>> Awareness. Everyone needs to get in-volved, work with law enforcement, call Crime Stoppers, call their mayor.
Crooks hope the government will take our guns, leave us defenseless and make their job much easier.
E.J. Foral, Springfield, Neb.
Turn marketplace into climate changer
I’d rather have a root canal than talk about climate change, but increases in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide from our burning of fossil fuels, causes global warming and the wacky weather. We need to do something before climate change worsens, causing us and our economy great hardship.
Many conservative economists, such as Art Laffer and Greg Mankiw, say that free enterprise can fix the climate problem, but only if we fix the distortion in the marketplace that gives polluters tax breaks. A revenue-neutral carbon tax that taxes carbon at its source (mine or well) or at the border will allow energy alternatives to become players in the marketplace as well as open the door to good old American ingenuity.
We don’t have to choose between the environment or the economy. A carbon tax that returns its revenue to households will both be good for the economy, by putting money in the hands of people who will spend it, and produce millions of new jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency.
Moni Usasz, Lincoln
Energy tax hike would hurt agriculture
Energy is a common target in discussions about raising revenue as part of tax reform. The rhetoric about tax subsidies for oil and gas companies at times reaches a fever pitch.
However, tax reform resulting in higher taxes on any sector of our economy will have real consequences. This would certainly be the case with higher taxes on energy and its impact on agriculture.
Farmers understand the impact of higher taxes on energy as well or better than most Nebraskans. For them, energy is a key input. As energy prices rise, so do production costs, which puts the pinch on a farm family’s income.
If Congress acts on tax reform this year, raising taxes on energy should not be part of the plan.
Jason Scott, Falls City, Neb.
Nebraska should oppose Citizens United
Several weeks ago, my husband and I drove to Lincoln to lobby our state senators to support a resolution to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case.
Little did I know that while I was lobbying here in Nebraska, something bigger was brewing in Washington. I was ecstatic to learn that U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi and John Sarbanes proposed such legislation, called the Government by the People Act of 2014, which would overturn Citizens United.
Sadly, during my visit to Nebraska’s Capitol, I found out that the state resolution is stuck in the Government Committee because several senators there do not want to support it. I sincerely hope they have a change of heart so Nebraska can show D.C. that we support this legislation at this critical time.
Laurie Gift, Omaha
First look at why immigrants are here
Regarding John Brudny’s letter congratulating Fremont on its immigration vote (Feb. 13 Pulse): Illegal immigration provides many benefits to society.
First, the immigrants are trying to better the lives of their families. Can you fault somebody for doing that?
Second, the jobs they work are often the ones that nobody else wants to do. They usually command a lesser wage.
Third, the immigrants play a vital role in our economy by paying for goods and services.
Broaden your horizons and try to understand why they are here. And worry less about a segment of this country that represents about 3 percent of the total population.
Aaron Gilson, Omaha
Let’s combine horses and lottery
Horse racing and the lottery — why not combine the two and have a Nebraska Sweepstakes, like the Irish? In the same year, let’s approve three state-run casinos, in Omaha, Grand Island and one out west. This would energize the racing industry and keep all the gambling money in the state.
L.J. Jones, Omaha
Of politics and the helmet law
Why are automobile occupants not required to wear helmets while motorcycle riders are, since the same safety arguments can be made in either case?
It is because the motorcycle population is much smaller, and elected state representatives know how to count. They realize if they required all automobile occupants to wear helmets, they could kiss their jobs goodbye.
Republicans continually complain about too many regulations. The only exception would be when big business — insurance companies, in this instance — demands a regulation to relieve them of expenses hurting their profits.
I would love to ride my motorcycle in Nebraska, but I don’t (and as a result never spend any money there on gasoline, food, lodging, repairs and other things associated with riding).
Why? Because unlike Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota and Colorado, Nebraska elimi-nated my right to choose to wear a helmet or not.
Rick Wehrli, Council Bluffs