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A California gun measure; U.S. energy policy; marketing the Lap-Band to teenagers

Controlling guns

Re “Gun control that won’t,” Opinion, May 24

There is something the matter with the whole discussion of gun control. The current effort by the gun lobby is targeted (pun intended) at having everyone carry a gun. There is no reason, in a country where the violent crime rate has fallen every year for the last 10 years, for weapons to be carried, openly or concealed. Who is supposed to benefit, and how?

The answer is clear: The benefit goes to the gun manufacturers, who have a problem selling guns. Most women don’t want to own one, and men’s old guns just never wear out.

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For those of us who believe that guns are intimidating and are used as a threat to free speech and our peace of mind, we will keep working for sensible gun laws that require guns to be kept safely stored at home.

Ann Reiss Lane

Los Angeles

The writer is chair emeritus of Women Against Gun Violence.

Adam Winkler is concerned that AB 144 (the ban on “open carry” of guns) would inadvertently lead to an increase in concealed weapons permits. He is freaked out by the idea that he could be “surrounded by people with hidden, possibly loaded guns every time you go out in the street.”

Apparently, those citizens in the 37 states having shall-issue concealed gun laws feel quite secure being surrounded by armed, law-abiding folks.

Michael L. Friedman

Torrance

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UCLA law professor Winkler makes the point that the unintended consequence of banning the open carry of firearms might be an increase in permits for concealed weapons, and that that is the goal of gun-rights activists: “Gun owners would much prefer to conceal their firearms when out on the town.”

What if Winkler’s premise is incorrect? What if these open-carry folks are trying to make guns a more normative part of society? Perhaps they are trying to say that guns are OK in restaurants, markets, shopping malls, universities and elsewhere.

Let’s not take that chance. AB 144 should be passed.

Roberta Schiller

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Los Angeles

A sensible energy policy

Re “ ‘Drill, baby, drill’ won’t do it,” Editorial, May 24

Increased production won’t achieve energy independence, but it will lead to greater energy security. Tomorrow’s economy will require wiser use of energy from all sources, including renewables. Dismissals of future energy initiatives as ineffective responses to outcries over fuel prices are like rapping disease research because it won’t lead to immediate cures. “Drill, baby, drill” may not be the answer, but neither is “What’s the point?”

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Recent legislation to eliminate the oil depletion allowance would’ve added nothing to the U.S. Treasury because the targeted companies don’t qualify for that provision. Also, ethanol credits weren’t in the legislation. That leaves the other provisions, which, as you state, “are in keeping with the deductions all businesses are allowed.”

Our industry contributes an average of

$87 million a day to the federal government. With their 41% effective tax rate, higher than for most businesses, oil companies pay more than their fair share.

Erik Milito

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Washington

The writer is upstream director at the American Petroleum Institute.

While drilling won’t do it, I’m not sure most Americans are financially broke enough, or scared enough of dangerous oil spills, Mideast revolutions or even talk from the friendly Canadians about possibly selling their oil to China or India, to really consider “Conserve, baby, conserve.”

We will get to a time when we use far less oil than we do now. The question is whether we do it as a result of conservation and alternative energy planning that ideally should have started decades ago, or at the point of a knife or a gun represented by oil prices far higher than they are now and supplies that are far less reliable.

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At least for the near future, the choice is still ours to make. Can we say, “Courage, baby, courage”?

Mary Stanik

Minneapolis

Israel is the democracy

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Re “Israel’s settlement liability,” Opinion, May 25

While I disagree with almost everything Dan Simon writes, I was floored by the particular statement that for Israel, a “respectful solution to the Palestinian problem would go a long way toward convincing the country’s neighbors that it values democracy and justice.”

Is he serious in proposing that Israel — the only true democracy in the Middle East, the only place where women are treated as equals in the Middle East, the only country where all religions are tolerated in the Middle East and where Arabs have more rights than they do in their own countries — needs to prove that it values democracy and justice to Egypt, Syria, Iran and Lebanon? Really?

Israel may not be perfect, but the idea that it has to prove to these regimes that it values democracy and justice is beyond absurd.

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Jeremy Haft

Sherman Oaks

Simon lays out the self-destructive nature of Israel’s West Bank settlements and their maintenance at the expense of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Statesmen such as President Obama and Israel’s Kadima party leader (and former foreign minister) Tzipi Livni understand this. Politicians such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mitt Romney ignore this and choose to pander to their party bases.

Prominent American politicians need to be aware that opposing negotiations and making Israel a political football undermine the security of both Israel and America. Evangelicals need to understand that modern Israel is not the battleground of a new crusade.

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David Perel

Los Angeles

Go play, not go get a Lap-Band

Re “Lap-Band maker targets teenagers,” May 24

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The Lap-Band for 14-year-olds? What’s next, internal stilts for short people?

When an adult has tried diets, various weight-loss techniques and has done the proverbial rain dance to lose weight but can’t, I say go for it. But to make it available to kids as young as 14 because they have a sweet tooth and are too busy texting — I say the fat stops here.

Russell Pate, a professor of exercise science, could not have put it any better by saying the nation should encourage children to exercise and eat properly instead of making surgery more available.

So until mom and dad tell Junior to go outside and play, it looks as if pounds will win and slim will lose.

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Bill Spitalnick

Newport Beach

The whole idea of consumer commercials for prescriptions is idiotic, especially if they have potentially dangerous outcomes. Medical decisions including prescriptions are best shared between a doctor and patient, not hocked on the airwaves.

Drug commercials really took off only recently. Ever wonder why our prescription drugs are so expensive?

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Keith Ensminger

Merced

On Oprah

Re “What Oprah wrought,” Editorial, May 24

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In focusing so much on Oprah Winfrey’s influence as a black woman, you failed to fully extol her real value to society.

Winfrey elevated the talk show genre to a level few have been able to match. Instead of offering a parade of mindless shows that exploited personal failings and social dysfunction, Winfrey encouraged, inspired and motivated people to their best potential. She empowered viewers by offering thoughtful, informed and intelligent solutions to everyday struggles.

In Winfrey, we saw a sensitive and kindhearted humanitarian who used her prominent public position to affect positive change on people’s lives and, by extension, the world. That’s the great legacy Winfrey leaves behind after 25 years.

Chaise Nunnally

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Fontana

Legalize pot

Re “A prison system we deserve,” Opinion, May 25

If we were to regulate and tax marijuana like we do wine and vacate the prison sentences of those imprisoned for marijuana violations, the prison population would decline and there would be no significant uptick in crime.

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Additionally, jobs would be created, millions in taxes would flow into state and local treasuries, law enforcement resources would be liberated and pot would be a great deal more difficult for our children to get their hands on.

Why is this not even being discussed by California politicians?

Stephen Downing

Long Beach

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The writer is a former deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department.


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